Friday, 27 November 2015

5 ways a holiday with kids is not a holiday

I am super pleased this week to be the final Weekend Rewind guest host for the year. Thanks to the lovely Sonia, Zoe and Bron for having me (and make sure you check out their fabulous blogs). Since we're all heading into the holiday season, I thought it'd be fitting to tell you about my recent *ahem* holiday, and what to expect if you're taking your kids anywhere this Summer.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Mum and I took my four kids - all under 6.5yrs - on holiday to Queensland this month. We extended the invitation to Mr Laney of course, who muttered something along the lines of 'can't get the time off work' and 'think I've got something on that week', clearly having some foresight that I may have lacked when planning this trip. So we left Mr Laney behind to hold the fort. Since we’ve been back, a lot of people have asked, ‘How was your holiday?’ Hmmm. I’ve decided that the word ‘holiday’ is not quite the right word for when you take kids away.

As far as I can recall, holidays involve some sort of rest, a chance for rejuvenation, and an excuse to sleep in and be generally lazy. I don’t recall any of these things happening on our holiday. That’s not to say that we didn’t have a fantastic time – we all did, especially the kids. We stayed with family who had a sprawling suburban house, replete with swimming pool and kid-friendly pets. The kids spent their days exploring the house and gardens, playing with the dogs, and swimming like there was no tomorrow. We went to a theme park, hit the shops, took day trips.

But rest? Relaxation? SLEEP? Not on this holiday. In fact I remember having the distinct feeling of needing a holiday when we were on the way home from this one. I've realised that the holiday landscape changes when you have small kids, especially when you’re a slightly anxious parent like me.

Here’s what I discovered on ours: 

1. The airport
Airports aren't kid-friendly. They should be: there's all those planes to look at, the air of holiday anticipation and all the treats and snacks parents have hiding in their carry-on luggage to keep kids quiet happy. But at check-in, the airline insisted on taking our double-stroller and 'unfortunately couldn't locate a loaner stroller', meaning we had to lug the twin toddlers around the airport along with the big kids and our bags. This was made all the more fun by the random security check for explosives as well as the standard bag checks. Clearly we resembled a security risk. When we got through all the checks, we lugged our lot through the airport, every now and then stopping to ask the bigger kids to stop rolling around on the floor, and about an hour later, we arrived at our boarding gate, where I immediately got out the snacks.

2. The flight
Before kids, I used to moan about the length of flights overseas and how uncomfortable it was to sit still and just do nothing all that time. During our short flights with twin toddlers who squirmed and protested on our laps as we force fed them sultanas, tried to make the in-flight menus interesting and in the end just handed over our phones, I thought of having my lap to myself and wept. Needless to say, I spent the last 20 minutes of the flight watching the clock and salivating for my double stroller.

3. The new environment
When you put kids in a new environment, it requires a whole new risk assessment for potential dangers and disasters. While I'd learnt to be more or less comfortable with them running around our tiny townhouse, going from this to a huge suburban dream with big gardens and a swimming pool and multiple rooms to hide in presented a major challenge for my helicopter tendencies. To make sure none of the kids  fell-into-a-bed-of-rusty-nails/discovered-a-spider's-burrow/unlocked-the-gate-to-the-swimming-pool/escaped-to-the-outside-streets/fell-over-and-banged-their-head-and-just-lay-there-for-ages-because-no-one-knew-where-they-were meant I was constantly pacing the grounds looking for one of them. It was exhausting. On the plus side, if I had a Fitbit, I reckon I'd have clocked up a few thousand more steps with all that frantic pacing.

4. The non-sleeping
Kids don't sleep on holiday. After a tricky first night of trying to get them all to bed, I was relieved to find that they settled well for the rest of the holiday. But with the slight time difference and holiday buzz, they started waking up really freaking early instead. I thought 5.30am was a rough beginning for the day, which we got now and then at home, but on holiday the new wake-up time became 4.30am. Every. Morning. Sounding like a holiday yet? Is it??

5. The zero down-time
There's no down-time on holidays with kids. They're all excited and revved up and the more tired they get, the more loud and crazy they become. All the stuff that usually gets my kids to focus or chill out at home did not work on holiday. Which I understand. Who wants to kick back and watch TV when there’s a swimming pool to swim in or a noisy game of hide and seek to play? Or giant dogs to 'ride'? Who in their right mind would want to sit down with a cup of tea and like, just read a magazine or something???

Honestly, we did have a great time. It was never about getting some rest time in, I wanted the kids to have some new experiences and they got plenty of those. But a 'holiday' with kids? Don't make me laugh. It was more like a road tour. With a really hyperactive rock 'n' roll band.

You know who got the holiday in all of this? Mr Laney. The clever, clever man.

So do tell - have you holidayed with kids recently? What was it like? Does it get any easier as they get older?! Got any tips for me? (hint: to leave a comment, click on this post's heading again to open it up as a new page)

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