The dictionary tells me that a ‘Holiday’ is ‘an extended period of leisure, rest and recreation; usually describing being away from home.’
I would like to rewrite that definition, so that it applies to the fools who have chosen to have (many) children. ‘Holiday; an extended period of stress and harassment, involving keeping your children alive against all odds; usually describing being in another country where there are no stair gates and everything is made of (any second now there will be a split head) marble.’
I’ve just been on a holiday. And don’t get me wrong; I know I’m lucky to go on so many of the buggers. Judith Chalmers has nothing on my husband when it comes to booking a jaunt in the sun. This holiday was particularly special because it was with my whole big bonkers family, the first time we’ve ever done it and I think it says a lot about us that there wasn’t a single fall-out. Just laughs-a-plenty.
I don’t know though… going abroad all feels a bit of a palaver when you have to take the kids with you (but I find social services frown on it if you leave them at home with a bag of dry cat food).
Let’s put this in perspective. Surely holidays post having kids can’t be that different to when we were child-free? Can they!?
Then – an assortment of beautiful dresses and heels for those lovely romantic meals on the marina. At least four bikinis to showcase the bod you’ve trained hard for five times a week since January. Factor 10 oil to perfect the tan during your 8 hour stints lying flat-out round the pool. Loads of books to get blissfully lost in.
Now – Clothes that will hide child-related stains. Anything beige basically. Last years (or last decades) bikinis which used to contain lovely pert boobs but now will just basically be huge gaping cups with sad breast-feeding-ruined baps hiding in there somewhere. Factor 50. One book…so you can read the first chapter 17 times during the week and be interrupted every single time.
Then – check in, sail through security, try some nice new perfumes in duty free, treat yourself to a fancy lipgloss. Head to the bar and have a big glass of wine to get you in the holiday mood. Board the plane, smile at your partner, chat about your plans (there are no plans) for the week then settle down to watch a film with another wine.
Now – Get two trolleys and still you won’t be able to fit on them the insane amount of stuff you are taking. Watch as one of your children runs through the scanner setting off more security alarms than Abu Hamza, while the other one mimes shooting people with an AK-47 whilst shouting ‘but what if there really IS a bomb Mam?’
Finally get through security and into duty free. Observe the children decimating the store with their trunki’s, knocking over stands of vodka and perfume much to the horror of the sales-ladies.
Enter the departure lounge and see your flight is delayed. Consider staging a security alert just so you can all get evacuated and go home.
Eventually board the plane and spend the next four hours apologising to people that your children insist on relentlessly kicking the backs of their seats, and explaining to said children why they can’t go to the toilet when the ‘fasten seatbelt’ sign is on… which it is, for almost the entire flight.
The holiday itself
Then – lie-in, brunch, sunbathe, read, chat, sleep, swim, shower, hours getting ready/drinking/laughing, sundowner cocktails, lovely meal, more drinks, sex. Repeat x 14.
Now – Up at 7am (which is a blessed relief cos it’s 6am at home), break up the first fight of the day, serve many breakfasts, wrestle with angry children and the aforementioned factor 50. Walk to pool. Realise you’ve forgotten armbands. Walk back to hotel room for armbands. Return to pool. Lie everything out on the loungers and finally sit down. One child needs a poo. Get up. Return to hotel room. Complete Operation: poo.
Go back to pool. One child is now hungry. Leave pool. Go to cafe. No tables left in the shade. One child gets a burnt neck.
Go to beach. Endeavour to stop child one drowning, child two wandering off with a Dutch family and child three ingesting so much sand that he will require hospitalisation. After 19 minutes the children declare they are bored and want to go back to the pool.
Go for an evening meal…not as nice as it sounds. Walk the baby around the block 97 times so he sleeps while you eat. Spanish waiter is very friendly and LOUD and immediately wakes the baby. Baby kicks off. You get chronic stress-induced indigestion. Kids want to go back to the hotel to catch the mini disco. Leave your food. It’s ok you couldn’t taste it anyway. Sit watching the mini disco ‘entertainment’ staff doing the Macarena for the 9th night running and wonder what has become of you and your life.
Hmm. So, on balance, holidays are quite different these days actually. Some would say unrecognisable. Im not saying holidays aren’t lovely… we just need to redefine them. Change our expectations. If you’re lucky enough to get a week away in the sun with your kids it’ll be glorious I’m sure. Ice creams, hand-holding strolls, sun tans, bombing into the pool and no homework to think about… just don’t be suprised if you feel like you need a holiday to recover from the ‘holiday’.