Picture this – on a beach in the sun, having fun, just you and your significant other…or with friends, whichever you prefer. You eat when you want, you drink when you want, dance when you want…do what you want, when you want. Now throw in a child or 2, or 3 or even 4! Now it’s laughable! I can assure you, unless you have a quality baby sitter, kids club or personal helper taking care of the children, that former holiday bliss is not going to happen like that for a while!
Caleb and I had booked our first family holiday after having 3 children. In our heads it was going to be a holiday. You may laugh at us, but in our hearts we wanted and needed a break. It was our first introduction to holidaying with kids and we were clueless. Poor us, we were going to learn the top rule for holidaying with kids the hard way.
We had got a good deal on a popular budget holiday park. It was such a good deal that we upgraded the chalet and went half board. On the day of arrival we were so excited to see what our upgrade had provided. With anticipation we opened the door to our upgraded chalet only to met by a cramped 1 room living space (intended for 2 adults and 3 kids) and tired, old furniture. Not wanting to believe the situation was as bad as it appeared, we peered into the bathroom hoping it got better. It was also tiny and occupied by a strange half sized bath (I had never seen such a thing before) with a seat or some sort of ledge built into it to sit on. We had been ‘duped’. Fighting back tears of disappointment, Caleb and I endeavoured to make the best of the situation. We made the beds, had a quick clean and headed out to explore the amenities.
In stark contrast to the chalet, the kids playground was wonderful. It was new and well equipped for young children to use. Davina and Joe loved it and it was only a short walk away from our accommodation. Joe was 3 at the time and enjoyed waking up between 5am and 6am each day (Caleb and I did not enjoy this). His morning routine usually consisted of going downstairs with Caleb and having breakfast, toys and kids TV. Now imagine – an active toddler, a cramped living space, no usual toys or tv choices…yep…Caleb cracked under the pressure. By day 2 Caleb initiated a new routine – 7am trips to the new, shiny playground. ‘Aww…’ you may say ‘Joe was just so excited to go away!’ No. You see these early morning followed nights of
torture persuasion to get him to sleep in the first place!
Being a breastfeeding mum, I had the privilege of working the night parent shift. Whereas my baby was quite settled, Joe wouldn’t sleep in the chalet beds and was an expert at jumping out of cots. What’s a mum to do in that situation? I did as I’d seen many other parents do – I tried pushing him in the buggy to get him to sleep. You see this method of getting kids to sleep usually begins very calmly with the parent or carer trying to sing and soothe the child to sleep. Whilst engaged in this method you may see 30 mins go by, 60 mins, by the time you get to 90+ mins time just blurs all together. During this time of rocking the buggy back and forth, I’ve observed that parenting skills also rapidly decline. Singing to sleep resorts to begging the child to sleep, this in turn descends into trying to shout the child to sleep (like that’s ever going to work!) and then comes a defeated and despondent rocking back and forth where the parent/carer is completely wiped out. I can happily say the first night of battle – I won! It was a short lived victory. By the second night Joe was fully on to me and sought to prove his will regarding sleep time was stronger than mine. He screamed in protest as I clipped him in his buggy at sleep time. He screamed and screamed and screamed. After the sacred 90mins had past, I had also gone past singing, begging and shouting and was at the end of myself. For the sake of my own sanity I decided to sit down. Silly me! In a rage of defiance Joe decided to pull himself forward and backwards in his buggy and flipped it over in an attempt to get himself out (I tell you no lie this actually happened). In utter shock by his strength and glad he had not hurt himself, I admitted defeat. The buggy rocking method was over and not even the evening time on holiday was our own. This was a stern lesson in holidaying with kids – IT’S ALL ABOUT THEM! I’ve heard some say that a break away is a time for couple’s to rekindle love. For us, by the time all 3 kids were asleep at least one of us had fallen asleep already with them! Love rekindled? Caleb and I were doing well to get into a bed in the same room!
Now I briefly mentioned that we also booked half board. I’m not going to dwell on the canteen food that looked like it came from the ‘No Frills’ section of an old U.K. supermarket. No. What I will point out though is that there was a dessert trolley at the end of the canteen counter and it had chocolate cake on it – Joe’s favourite. Caleb and I allowed all the kids a bit of dessert after their main meal on the first night. On the second evening 2 Joe raced to the dessert stand and demanded chocolate cake without having to eat all the ‘fluff’ we were offering before it. I was so embarrassed. No blending in with the crowd when you have a screaming toddler demanding his/her own way. During his performance one of the canteen workers very kindly rolled the dessert tray away. I looked around there were other kids there but none of them needed this special treatment! I cracked. I resorted to buying food from the overpriced shop and cooked it in our chalet. My sanity was worth more than that food. All that extra money spent to get half board down the drain. All I had wanted was for someone else to cook and clean up, but this was another stern lesson in holidaying with kids – IT’S ALL ABOUT THEM!
Needless to say that was the first and last visit to a holiday park. Now that my kids are older would I try it again? Not that resort, but I would try one where there were great kids clubs on offer. Joe is much calmer now and his love affair with chocolate cake has lessened. Now Randall seems to instigate the adventures! You can read one of his stories at https://wordpress.com/post/justcallmequeen.com/98. I’ve also come across a great site which suggests really good family friendly getaways https://www.awaywiththekids.co.uk/ pity we did not use something like that before we went away!
Thanks for popping by! x