Ahhhh holidays. How nice it is to sit on a sun lounger by the pool; beer in one hand, book in the other.
Your holidays now might be more about reptile parks, queuing for waterslides and constant monitoring of little ones on the beach.
In fact the words ‘holiday’ or ‘break’ are essentially redundant when you consider that time away with kids often involves more work, activity and less sleep than when at home.
My pre-kid holidays were all about the excitement of packing nice clothes and swimmers, having a wine at the airport, arriving at the hotel and going for a refreshing swim followed by a stroll around the neighbourhood.
Since our little person came along in 2010, our family holidays were less about leisurely strolls and more about survival. Less about swim-up-bars and more about freaking out when realising someone forgot to pack the block-out-blinds. Hello 4am wake-ups.
I remember one trip in particular with our four-month-old baby to San Francisco. Sounds glamorous but what I mainly recall was the long flight, the treacherous cab ride from the airport with an ill-fitting baby seat, the ongoing jetlag and noisy neighbours at the hotel.
The sense of achievement and relief when we walked back in the door was immense. It was shortly followed by gloom as we contemplated the three full suitcases of washing.
While there is something to be said for taking your young family somewhere exotic, it is probably best not to consider it a holiday, more a change of scene. While we had some great times on our various attempts at trips away to Port Douglas, France and the UK, I also remember a lot of tears (from me too) as we attempted to get our son to sleep on a plane or in a tiny travel cot in an unfamiliar room.
It was after one hellish plane ride in particular when my son was still in nappies that we decided to mix up the holiday rules a little bit. I booked a weekend away to Melbourne to visit a friend and it was a revelation. While I didn’t use it to catch up on sleep, the time spent just wandering around shops, have long chatty lunches and relaxing away from my family sent me home again feeling like a new woman.
Since that time, it has become a family tradition and while we still do things as a family, my husband and I have both benefitted from fun weekends and even weeks away from home.
I am always surprised when I meet people, women in particular, who have never spent a night away from the kids and their oldest might be three, four or even five. While I don’t think going away for weeks at a time is the right move for every family, for ours it works.
I have just returned from two weeks in the UK visiting family and friends. I got to have long conversations and leisurely meals without needing to deflect the ‘mummmm I’m bored’ statements or feel guilty about letting him spend two hours playing Angry Birds on the iPad just to get through a train journey