Monday, 15 October 2012

Holidays with kids. Same s**t, different location?

The packing.  Oh God, the packing.
Going on holiday with kids is a bit of a mixed bag.

The first time we went away with Sarah, she was 8 weeks old.  I packed everything.  At the last minute I even chucked the bassinet in the car.  I also had her rocker and entire wardrobe.  The car was fuller than it had ever been before.  

We were going away with two other couples, both of whom were childless (although one of them was pregnant and didn't know it, and she hoovered both red wine and soft cheese like a champion before being overcome with guilt when she found out a few weeks later).

Both couples were amazed at the amount of stuff I'd managed to bring for someone who was 55cm long, 5 kg and fully breastfed.  

We got the biggest room in the cottage, because we had a baby. It was nice.  But it was the beginning of a long series of weekends and weeks away which in all honesty were simply the same s**t in a different location.  Sometimes the locations were attractive.  But if your baby was up half the night with croup and you didn't bring the Redipred, you didn't care much.  

This went on, in many locations, overseas, in Brisbane visiting family, at the beach, in the mountains.  I would try to put them to sleep in strange beds, strange bedrooms, sometimes setting up cots in bathrooms, desperately putting up makeshift curtains to block the early morning sun.  Anything to give us a bit of time to enjoy a holiday as we remembered them.  You know, the sleep ins, the book reading, leisurely meals, cocktails, general lazing about.  All a distant dream.

Being in denial didn't work.  Trying to pretend it was just like the holidays bc just made it worse. 

Mike and I would get tetchy with each other as we both tried to prove our need for time out was greater.  Point scoring and bad behaviour was common.

I would get frustrated with having to pack every child's bag, my own, all the food, toys and beach gear, while he sauntered out with his one bag and then told me I'd packed too much.

Going away at Christmas brought the added complication of large present transportation, see left. 
I remember trying to find 13 month old Joshie some milk for his 5:30am milky in the resort at Fiji.  He'd woken at 12:30 for an unexpected early milky and we had none in reserve.  The kitchen was shut, reception was quiet.  And Joshie screamed "MILKEEEEE"for an hour and a half.  

And once, as toddler Sarah and baby Joshie had their day sleep in our hotel room, I ordered myself a sandwich to eat as I sat outside in the hallway and read my book.  Don't ask me where Mike was.  Probably playing fucking golf. As I sat there, I could hear a couple in a room nearby enjoying a spot of "afternoon delight".  There was a pharmacists conference being held in the hotel at the time, who knew if they were a couple or a casual encounter.  But they went on FOREVER.  It was agony. 

This was perhaps, a low point.  

A lot of our holidays have been road trips.  The DVD player is my friend.  The alphabet game can only take you so far.
Anyway, I can cheerfully report, having just gone away for a week, that things have improved since those early days.  A definite turning point occurs after the youngest child is toilet trained, sleeps through the night and can swim.  To be safe, call it 5.  It's even better if they can operate a remote control.

We could sit by the pool and read, keeping an eye on them as they played, and occasionally go in with them, on our terms.  No bobbing around in the water with someone who clung like a limpet (Josh), or worse, kept trying to take off their bubble and escape (Issy). 

We could go out for dinner, not too late, but we could still do it.  And they behaved fairly well. On the whole.  Sort of. 

We could stay in bed and they'd put the tv on without disturbing us.  Until there was a fight over the remote and then someone would get dobbed on.  But we didn't have to get up.

And next year, I reckon they'll be able to get their own breakfast.  

And they were fun to do stuff with.  They loved the rainforest, the waterfalls, the beaches.  Ok so they didn't love snorkelling but maybe they're a bit young yet.

I know I have to enjoy the years from now until they get cynical and don't want to be seen with us so we'd better go on lots of holidays to make the most of it. .  Can't wait for the next one.