The word ‘holiday’ is one that I never thought I would think about and feel anything but happy and relaxed - but now that I’m a parent - it just isn’t the same as it was. The harsh reality is that, it will now be different forever.
Look, different isn’t always bad, but different from something that was once a glorious dream that you would work long and hard for, kinda sucks.
There is no way to get around it, holidaying with kids, isn’t really a holiday.
Take for example, our recent trip to Queensland. One that we had been planning for ages and specifically arranged around our kids. We booked it with excitement that they were *finally* at the age were holidays would be awesome again – they were old enough to forgo naps, old enough to be relatively independent, and old enough to really enjoy what we were offering.
So we thought.
But god were we wrong.
The holiday was largely spent with our kids being overtired, whinging little turds. Z even threatened to run away at one point and Fat Man told us for the first time (lead by Z) that he hated us. Fan-fucking-tastic.
Maybe it started from having a whole day of travel on day 1, or our relaxed attitude towards what they ate (oh hi sugar), or the anticipation of what we had built up as being the BEST TIME EVER. Who knows. All I know is that we could very well have taken them to Talbot, and it would have been a lot less expensive and probably just as *enjoyable*.
I’m gonna break it down for those planning their next holiday, just so you can try to avoid wanting to come home as soon as you arrive –
If you can, minimise travel. I know this one can be a super hard one to avoid, but if you can, do it. On reflection, we’d only ever travelled about 3 hours with our kids, and that usually included a stop. So going from that to pretty much a whole day, they were totally exhausted.
If you can’t avoid travel – try to make the first day of the holiday a quiet one – which can also be hard to avoid. Either that or just deal with the fact that you’re going to have super tired feral kids.
For me, this is the thing that can totally make or break a holiday, and thankfully for our recent trip, was one of the saviours.
If you’re going to put in all of the time and effort to go away, I suggest that accommodation is where you spend your money. It can be hella expensive, but goddamn is it worth it.
For me, there needs to be enough rooms that each kid can be separated if need be. I can say that because I have 2 kids – so we only need 2 bedrooms and could transfer one of them later once they’re asleep.
I assume if you have anymore than 2, you already have the patience of a saint (and are therefore probably not reading this article), so you won’t need to separate them. Maybe I’m too old and cranky, but I’m no longer down for motel rooms that state ‘family friendly’, which means 2 king beds in the one room. No thanks. Gimme space to get away from the little turds once they’re finally asleep.
Also, if you’ve spent all of your money on accomm – you might want to make sure it has at least one kid friendly component. It could be a pool, a playground, or just located super close to a beach or park.
Activities Vs down time –
Please, for the love of all things happy and sunshine, include some down time in your itinerary. My husbands initial Queensland plan went like this –
Day 1 – Seaworld
Day 2 – Movieworld
Day 3 – Wet n wild
Day 4 – beach
Day 5 – back to our favourite theme park.
Luckily, he was absolutely flexible on this, because by the end of Day 1 – we all needed a day off.
That might sound extreme, but remember that we’d travelled all day to get there, and that one of our little people usually still has a nap. So by the end of Day 1, they’d had more meltdowns than we could keep count of and we knew, if we wanted to enjoy ANY part of this holiday, we needed to stop.
We still got all of the theme parks in, plus some beach time, but if we had not have had a break day here and there, we would have absolutely ended up losing our minds.
Feel free to let your usual strictness slide on this one….just don’t expect your kids not to react…
And most importantly, expectations!!
As I said, we totally thought we were on a winner and that we were finally going to have the BEST HOLIDAY EVER.
If we had a reality check and realised that it would’ve probably been much like every other holiday, it probably wouldn’t have been so horrifying to admit that it wasn’t that fun at the end of the week.
Low expectations = pleasant surprises if things work out well.
High expectations = wanting to cry into your pool side cocktail every night.
Just remember, they’re kids. They could not give two hoots if you’re in Cuba or Cohuna. So make the most of your time away by enjoying the fact that you don’t have to cook or clean, and hopefully you won’t have them threatening to run away after they tell you they hate you….