Sometimes it feels like my kids will do everything in their power to ruin our relaxing family getaway. As if their evil little sub-conscious is aware that the adults need time to recharge and they get a kick out of seeing us stressed.
Take our most recent holiday for example. Our youngest girl cut her first tooth the day before we left and our normally perfect little angel temporarily morphed into the spawn of Satan himself.
Our eldest little girl also decided that no matter what she received, it wasn’t enough for her. The whinging was relentless.
The pair of them have a supernatural sisterly bond which allows them to cause as much disruption to their parents’ plans as possible. They work together to ensure that whilst one is content the other is wreaking havoc. Occasionally, when they get bored with the status quo attention seeking they will begin to work together, ensuring none of us are enjoying the experience.
Although this does seem a bit extreme, fellow parents will understand. Kids can be shits.
Fortunately, we did learn some ways to make the most of our time away so everyone in the family could enjoy it. Unfortunately we learnt most of our lessons on the penultimate day of our holiday. Nonetheless, if we ever decide it would be fun to holiday together as a family again, this is what we will do:
Ignore the Clock
You are on holidays after all. Relax. Unwind. Recharge.
If you’re a great bloke you’ll let the cheese and kisses sleep-in while you get the kids ready since she’s been up with them all night while you’ve been obliviously cutting trees down with your snore-saw.
Don’t get too worried about adhering to plans because the little units will make it hard to do anything on time.
Our favourite day (and last day) was the one that began with breakfast at lunch time. We had a loose plan of kid friendly activities without any time constraints and it worked well. We all had a lot of fun.
One of our biggest issues was the time it took us to get ready to leave the hotel room each morning for breakfast. Every day we were all tired due to teething issues (get it?) and didn’t wake up until fairly late in the day. Adults need caffeine and kids need food in their mouth the instant they wake up otherwise everyone ends up hangry.
We were completely unprepared for this (my fault for not wanting to do groceries while we were on holidays) but having a bit of food in stock is critical – even if you mostly plan on eating out like we did as there were limited facilities in our room.
One thing you can generally rely on is tea and coffee facilities available in your accommodation for the caffeine fix, however I certainly won’t be drinking a beverage comprised of the coffee flavoured dirt often supplied in hotel accommodation #coffeesnob. So it’s struggle street until we can get to the nearest caffeine dispensary outlet.
Wear Them Out
The last night of our four night holiday was by far the best any of us had slept the whole time. We were all completely spent from swimming in the pool and a cycling a four wheel bike around all afternoon.
My advice for this would be to keep the kids doing the physically exhausting activities while you drink beer and provide general encouragement.
Keeping the younglings entertained when you want to spend some time chatting to your beautiful wife is tricky, but worthwhile if you can pull it off. I know it goes against the parenting code but we occasionally allowed our eldest daughter to watch a movie on the iPad while we ate our meals. The youngest daughter was happy chewing on a teething rusk.
I know, I know. Not great, but it worked for us. There are other substitutes such as books or toys that may suffice to keep the children occupied long enough for you to enjoy your meal and have one of those rare adult conversations about things that aren’t related to the kids, like you used to have before you had kids.
Leave Without Them
If all else fails you have no choice but to leave without the kids. Of course I mean before you set off on your next holiday, not leave them and go home from your current holiday.
Seriously though, parent’s do benefit from some time without the kids even if only for a date night or even to spend a few hours at home together.
It’s not always possible but take those opportunities when you can. Your relationship will be better for it.
So when you see other parents stressed on their relaxing getaway, be sure to give them an empathetic smile in acknowledgment of the struggles you share. We are in this together.
I think it’s also important to embrace the time away with the kids. As a working Dad, I find that I don’t get much opportunity to truly bond with my girls due to the business of day-to-day life. So I genuinely enjoy the holiday period for that reason. It is a chance to slow down and really appreciate the little family you have created and the joy that comes with that.
Enjoy the next holiday and make the most of the time you get to spend with the kids.