Children & babies · General parenting · Home and Family · Motherhood · Travel

The Holidays, Uncut

So here we are again. The central heating is on, the woolly cardigans are out and X-Factor has started. The summer we’d all been waiting for is done. Done and dusted. Caught on camera before being swept away as abruptly as a tidal wave, leaving us with nothing but sepia-tinged memories to cling onto. Sombreros are gathering dust on the tops of cupboards and the rose-tinted spectacles that last week hugged us tightly, are now long-lost amigos, forgotten amongst cluttered drawers full of everything and nothing. Needless to say, my vitamin-D enriched skin is now peeling into snowflakes of white and my sun-kissed legs won’t get to see the light of day for another year.

Damn.

But before you start drowning in tears, let’s just be honest with ourselves for a moment: holidays are hell. And this year, was no exception to the rule. You packed too many clothes; the suitcase broke the scales; your handbag didn’t meet the onboard requirements, you were groped and strip-searched at security; you had to run at the “final call for all passengers travelling on flight L.A.T.E to Malaga”. And having boarded the plane, no-one wanted to sit next to you plus-two-kids, whilst His Royal Highness conveniently winged a seat somewhere (anywhere) else, out of sight, out of mind. Whats more, you’d forgotten to down the diazepam; the woman behind missed the bag and puked up lumpy porridge on your arm; the kids were starving and the DVD player ran out of charge. Sound familiar? All this FUN, it was only 7am and you were still taxi-ing on dry land.

You see, aside from getting married, divorced and moving house, holidays simply must deserve a place up there among the more stressful times in our lives. For however sunny our jollies may turn out to be, however sumptuous the surroundings and however soft the sand beneath our feet, holidaying with a cohort of challenging children under 10 and a husband, is never, ever relaxing. There are always arguments. There are always tears. And by the very end, any even remotely publish-worthy holiday snaps are always photo-shopped.

Don’t even think about denying it.

For with holidaying, comes an inevitable amount of pressure. Pressure of the kind that we simply can’t bear to address. It’s bad enough when our hard-earned cash pays for a return ticket home without a tan, but yet we still insist on sporting shorts and vests to the bitter end. (Why?!) It’s hard enough to swallow that Trip Advisor was right about the watered-down beverages and having to forfeit a year’s worth of well-deserved lie-ins in order to snap up sun-beds before seven. But to leave Paradise without having captured that special, “one-for-the-wall”, family sunset shot, is simply criminal. For what else do we have to show for our long-awaited family holiday of a lifetime? And when accosted by pasty-looking playground pals, eager to soak up some of our rays, it is simply not acceptable to admit that the holidays were hell. How was your holiday? Hell. The kids were vile, the weather was crap and we almost divorced ten-times over. [Shock] That shut you up.

Don’t get me wrong – I adore my family of four-soon-to-be-five (Gd help me), but come rain or shine, home or away, working or not, infinity pool or pokey local baths, holidays can be hellish. Occupying children for 6 weeks is bloody hard work. And if it’s not bloody hard work, then it’s bloody expensive.  For sixty days plus, our parenting skills are stretched to the limit as we’re required to morph into happy-clappy, carefree children’s entertainers, with magical childcare solutions up our sleeves. But for all this clowning around, sadly we don’t stop being who we really are when we step aboard a Boeing 747. Our world doesn’t suddenly transport into a sugary kingdom of candy-floss dreams and gingerbread houses. Food fights, cat fights and sleep deprived nights still exist. There is no apparently about it. This is normal. Kids are real. They get bored. And we go mad.

So, I for one will breathe a sigh of relief when the school gates swing open once again. But if you’re of the camp who claim you are going to miss your precious little cherubs when they go back to school (seriously???) – well you don’t have much to worry about. Simply roll on the weekend.

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