12 September 2017
Past family holidays at the Jones’s aren’t quite like the Thomas Cook adverts. Each year I imagine the pool splashing, the laughter, the sandcastle, the cocktails and the sunsets. Yet... they never quite materialize how I imagined. Add into the equation my Mother who seems to become a human cocktail calorie calculator at the first sniff of Malibu, and I literally want to drive myself off the cliff of sanity.
As we have Half Term and Christmas hols to look forward to next, here are my top tips for surviving and thriving on a family holiday without the need for self-medication.
Fact 1: Everyone's family is a little bit crazy (some like mine, more than others). Instead of feeling flustered and embarrassed that you have coated your children in enough factor 100 suntan lotion that they look like they are about to swim the channel, imagine your life is a TV sitcom. Laugh at the fact they are so slippery now that you can’t catch them, hold them or squeeze them (despite the fact they resemble tubes of toothpaste) for the next 24 hours and they will go home whiter than they arrived. Remember what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger (with the exception of Grandad's ice-cream that has fallen, been picked up and fallen so many times on to the floor that we now have to apply the 28 minute rule).
Fact 2: Don't kid yourself. The perfect, magical holidays sold to us in commercials are more fantasy than Ariel joining you in the pool for a quick swim. This is real life, and yes, that's your Grandad standing on the pier flapping his arms around with a chip in his mouth chasing seagulls. Skip the required viewing of Summer Holiday, grab an extra bag of chips and join your Grandad on the pier. This might be fun after all.
Fact 3: Leave a little routine. While the idea of Summer sleepovers with children seems like a good idea, in reality it’s a disaster. Having had little sleep, lazing around late in PJ’s the next day, even the effort of watching TV can very quickly escalate into a full scale war. Tired children of any age develop ninja fighting skills in record time and constantly attack each other physically and mentally. Your role as parent will combine the delicacy of a UN peace negotiator and the nimbility of a referee in a wrestling match.
Fact 4: Leave them to it. Sure, the whole family might be coming to spend the week at your house, but it's totally okay to get a hotel! Trust me. It will be that much easier to handle your passive aggressive Aunt May when she accuses you of running a hippie commune because you co-sleep with your children if you know that you'll be relaxing in your own private jacuzzi in just a few short hours. Family holidays are important, but sanity is even better.
I remember that, as a child, the Summer holidays always felt like a time of transformation: the person who went back to school in September was quite different to the one who left in July. It’s the same for us parents. In September we are triumphant. We survived the in-laws, the endless chorus of ‘Are we there yet?’, the mosquitos, the raging sun, the waxing, the rain, the boredom, the freedom and the craziness with our families.
Well done one and all and I look forward to the Autumn weather, routine and School being open.
(Managing Director of Evolution Childcare)