Our last “proper” family holiday was in sunny Italy in 2012. Last year we had 2 night break in West Cork with a tiny baby, and this year we’d decided to stay in Ireland again and to head west to Connemara. (I have a lot more on that to share and I will, and then I’ll neatly insert a link here, pretend you never saw this, OK?).
It made sense to stay in Ireland this year, we had all the reasons down, the cost, the small girl being the age she is (ie a divil running around the place), and it being our first year tied to school holidays, and with my only having gone back to work a few weeks. Everything made sense, except that despite all the above reasons I really, really wanted sunshine.
So to make up for the lack of guaranteed sunshine or trip off this island I decided to try make myself get excited about our holidays beforehand, to get my holiday spirit up and running so to speak. And we all know that there’s no better way to stay excited than to get small people excited, so I wound the boys up to almost bursting point.
We made plans. We wrote a big list of all the “fun stuff” we could do on holidays. We decided to bring their scooters, I bought a shiny new pack of Crayola crayons, 24 unbroken colours to bring with us in case it rained. I declared it to be a law on holidays that we “eat an icecream EVERY DAY”. The boys delighted in telling everyone about this before our trip, about how much fun we’d all have, and that we’d swim in the sea and have an icecream EVERY DAY.
I know, I’m crazy, wild out. But it worked, we were all excited, and the law was strictly enforced, EVERY DAY.
Oxford English Dictionary
Holidays with kids are different. It’s hardly rocket science, I mean life with kids is different, so obviously enough life away from home with kids is different too.
When you have young children you’ll spend the journey, not matter how short, entertaining them, stopping them from tormenting their siblings, playing eye spy, handing them snacks and bringing them to the toilet.
The first few nights will be whiled away getting them settled in their new beds, using whatever methods work, like the time we went for a nice little drive around Tralee at bedtime one year).
You’ll let them stay up later than normal, which may or may not pay off. You’ll eat out with them more often than normal, which brings its own challenges (just ask the German tourists who sat next to us the night that Laoise decided she was most definitely feeding herself and it didn’t matter whose dinner it was going to be).
Pre-Mammy me used to get bored after two days on a sun-lounger by a pool and worry about having enough reading material for the whole trip. Mammy-me would love ten minutes on a sun-lounger, and is determined to read at least one short book on holidays, and possibly a magazine too.
But, as the saying goes, a holiday is a state of mind.
There’s nothing that “has to be done” other than the vital kid related stuff. Yes you’ll be up early or during the night, you’ll be wiping bums and mopping up spills, and providing food 24/7 that’s the normal “keep them alive” stuff.
But on holidays there’s no laundry, no lawn to be cut, no commuting, no ironing basket, no lunchboxes to be made, no hoovering, no work to go to. So you get to spend time with your kids, listening to them, hearing them, playing with them. For that holiday time, you’re a parent sure, but that’s all you are. Nobody else is making any demands, so you can give the kids attention, and they’ll blossom. You can let them see your “wild Mammy” side, agree to things that “home Mammy” NEVER would, and let them see what holidays are about. A break from routine for everyone, something different.
You can play with your kids, eat icecream with them, dig holes on the beach, let them stay for ages in the playground as there’s nowhere else to have to be, explore with them, splash in the sea, help them with their colouring, read the books they ask you to, chat to them, watch their wonder as they discover new things. (Like turf. No, honestly, they were fascinated by turf, there’s none of it where we live so they were obsessed with the stuff). They will soak it up, revel in it, and you can enjoy it, seeing the happiness in their small faces.
And then when they eventually go to bed you can talk to your other half, glass of wine or cold beer in hand even though it’s only Monday night, because you’re on holiday.
So while there were no lie ins, and our only all-nighter was due a tooth cutting, it was a holiday, our holiday, our lovely, memorable family holiday. Sure, it’s all different now. But as we realised, this is a good kind of different – or according to my five year old’s note “awesome”.
This post is part of a holiday link up by Patricia at Colorines Wonderful– check out what other bloggers have learned from their holidays by clicking on the image below.