Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Holiday Bizarro World

So we had our family holiday. And I’m intact. How was it? If you can believe it, this holiday went brilliantly well. I was really bracing myself for a working holiday, where the chaos of our lives merely transfers to a different venue and proceeds to get more intense and more chaotic. And with even less sleep, as per my previous experiences with mini-breaks and children.

Remember that Seinfeld episode where Elaine meets ‘Bizarro Jerry’ and his friends, who are all polar opposites of actual Jerry and the Seinfeld clan? Well, that’s what our holiday was like. It was the total opposite of any holiday I've previously experienced and the opposite to what I thought it was going to be like.It was everything a holiday should be: relaxing, fun, easy. And nothing like my previous holidays with kids: stressful, exhausting, nightmarish.

But to give myself a little credit, I was prepared for anything this time. First of all, I had eight separate lists going, of stuff to pack and stuff to buy to pack. I worked on these all week, and actually didn't get a chance to pack anything until the morning we were leaving. But I didn't stress. Because I had the lists. I know you're curious, so here are the list titles:

1. Stuff for Miss P
2. Stuff for Mr B
3. Stuff for babies
4. Stuff for me
5. Food to pack
6. Food to buy
7. Toiletries
8. Miscellaneous

In case you're wondering, Husband was in charge of his own packing, and naturally just packed a spare t-shirt and extra pair of shorts. Which he shoved in my bag.

Anyway, then we were packed and headed off, with a car load of children and luggage. Here's where the weird, bizarre stuff started happening. To begin with, we arrived at the holiday park, not just on time, but a few minutes early. Believe me, we are not an early family. Someone once told me that you get to be an extra 10 minutes late for every child that you have. Sums me up perfectly.

As I unpacked everything, the babies happily crawled up and down our cabin while Husband took the kids out for water play. I set up my coffee machine, put all our food away, put our clothes in the designated cupboard areas and even prepared pyjamas and sleep comforters ready for the night.

When Husband returned, it was time to put up the two travelcots for the babies. We were not looking forward to this. What is it with travel cots that makes them so hard to put up and take down? I tried my hand at one, but when it pinched both my hands I cursed loudly and had to walk away, feeling the familiar hatred and frustration for those contraptions.

But then I spied something. The instructions. I showed it to my Husband and asked if we ever looked at the instructions for the one we used to have at home (which was woefully abused by both of us in various fits of frustration). He looked as stunned as me. Together we went through the step by step guide and amazingly, the thing went up the first time! We were definitely in Bizarro world by this point.
By 8pm that night, all our kids were asleep. Also a Bizarro thing, I really expected a battle with the babies. Overnight, the babies woke up only once each, which is what they do at home on a good night, (which is hardly ever). It was completely tolerable compared to multiple wake-ups from each baby, and compared to every other holiday experience I've had with small children and sleep.
We had friends with children come to the holiday park with us, and so the next day, all the kids were in and out of the water, playing gleefully all day. The weather was perfect, not too hot and just right for getting wet. At about mid-morning, the really Bizarro thing happened:
The babies had a huge sleep, and with the kids out playing (and being looked after by other parents), I had time to myself.
What the??? I was as surprised as you. I didn’t know what to do with myself, I was giddy with excitement. I pottered about, talked with my friends and even had a beer. I ended up having to wake the babies. That’s ok, by that point I missed them. I think I was a bit lost without them.
So there you have it, a mini-break that was actually a break. Why was it so easy? In hindsight, I think it was a combination of factors:
  • .       The lists made sure we had everything we needed, so we didn’t need to leave the holiday park for one forgotten thing.
  • .       Stuff to do, like water play and swimming was on our door step, so getting the kids out and about was simple.
  • .       Going with brilliant friends who had kids of their own meant that there was always someone there to watch a child while you do other things. Plus cooking and washing up duties were shared between us so no one was chained to the kitchen at any one point.
  • .       I  kept my expectations really low for this one. I was prepared for the babies to get out of whack and ready to offer extra feeds or sleeping aids as needed. So I wasn’t disappointed. As it turns out I was pleasantly surprised. I kind of wanted to live there forever.
 What about you? Have you got one brilliant holiday tip that really helped you enjoy being away with the kids? Any amazing places you've been to with them?

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