According to the Oxford dictionary, the definition of the word “Holiday” is:
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Holiday: an extended period of leisure and recreation especially one spent away from home or in travelling.
This poses the question, what do you call a holiday with children when clearly the above definition does not apply. There really should be different term for “going away with children” as leisure, recreation or even relaxation are seldom enjoyed by parents on extended periods from home.
Perhaps, after a trawl of Google Theasaurus, a more fitting term is:
Crisis: a time of intense difficulty or danger?
Anyone who has travelled with pint sized food critics will immediately realise that despite your-pre-kids-self being on the right side of culinary adventuring, though perhaps not stepping too far over the line towards “I’m a celebrity” outback territory, those days are well and truly gone. Previously, you may have, perhaps snootily, shunned “The English Lion”, even possibly tut-tuttidly judged the families with their ham, eggs and chips, only to find yourself 6 years on in full clan shouty mode at “O’Malleys” ordering the beigest food on the menu and drinks “with a straw” in the desperate attempt to shovel something other than ice cream down your darling offspring’s necks.
Should you happen to go self catering (thus further increasing the similarity to home, lest you find yourself craving the usual household chores…) the shop round the supermarché will inevitably involve a treasure hunt for “the most British products” so that the family diet does not stray too far from the approved menu “du chez nous”.
So “Au Revoir” exotic spices and flavours of foreign fields. The tyrannical taste buds of the mini dictators have spoken; when in Rome, eat sausages.
Step up anyone that enjoys a bit of the old self-improvement on a holiday, enriching of your mind, body and soul. Pffft.
If culture is your bag, and nothing could interest you more than a slow saunter round a local museum, soaking up the rich history and stories of your new surroundings, well… sorry, but, your weans arnae gonnae indulge this fantasy. Instead a broken record of “I’m bored, this is boring, I’m tired, I want my ipad” will be played on a loop for…ever or until such a time that your mindless tomfoolery has passed and you have returned to usual functioning mummy/slave mode, whose artisan interests go no further than finding what is the date for the next extortionate trampoline park’s pre-pre-pre-pre opening party and on pain of death ensuring you have tickets.
Enjoy a wee dander down winding, mystical streets marvelling at the architecture stretching high above? Pah! Forget it. Unless you are planning on attempting the parental version of a human tuk-tuk with on-board entertainment you are going to have to forgo that particular passion.
“Swimming” you cry, “there’s an enjoyable activity for all the family!”
But is it?
Setting aside the fact that a swimming pool is a watery death trap which no parent is ever allowed to take their eyes off for a nano-second for fear of immediate kiddo drowning, does your family dip actually involve “swimming fun” or mainly being assaulted with water in the face? I’ve never been a strong swimmer – I didn’t get any of my badges – so this may taint my view, however, I am also by obvious admission, not a glamorous lady so despite there being no vain risk of mascara panda eyes, I cannot say I’ve become happily accustomed to the persistent facial tsunami that “swimming” with small children entails.
Every element, from catching a self-catapulting poolside toddler to assisting propulsion of a float bearing child results in a full visage water battering, every 3 seconds or so. Not pleasant or fun. Chuck in a setting beyond the usual confines of a semi- acceptably clean chlorinated pool, such as a lake or beach and the parental alert system has to go into hyper drive. Dangers lurk round every corner; tidal rifts, biting sand beasties, paedos in toilets, kidnapping…SHARKS, ensuring any sort of relaxation is ab.sol.utely forbidden.
And while we’re on the subject of relaxation for all those sun basking loungers out there… this is also a non-viable option that simply does not compute with kidbots. It is total sunstroke nonsense that your kids are going to allow you time and peace beyond the negotiated agreed basic simultaneous closing of eyes in a blinking action. Gone are the days of slow luxurious digestion of a trashy novel.
The joyous drifting into a sun licked snooze will not be permitted, nor the sumptuous sipping of sangria under the dappled shade of drunk umbrella. Expect the same level of relaxation as at home, with added factors of heat and sweat, which, has now been scientifically proven, to have synergistic negative effects on herding, chastising and inter-parental arguments.
Remember that cute capsule wardrobe of yesteryear? Hahahahahahahaha! This paragraph grew arms and legs… so it’ll be a subject for another rant another day. Obviously, it includes floaty a.k.a baggy (erection defeating) floral trousers and “luxe tshirts”, whatever they are?!
Similarly, transportation will be further discussed another time. I don’t want to stress you out anymore just now.
So, that’s it really.
Sounds like a blast, eh?
Of course, I’m skimming over the many, many joys; Watching your small clones being excited by the novelty of daily swimming, ice-cream and chips with every meal; Sinking into the wonderful excuse to let standards slip and generally cut yourself some slack about ipad time, bed times, veg intake and sugar content; Allowing yourself to finally fulfil those childhood dreams at Disneyland and funfairs; but most importantly; Letting go of inhibitions under the guise of holiday giddiness and fuelled by mamma-power to return to being that crazy fun lady who did whatever the hell she wanted (within reason), including being first and last on the dance floor at the hotel family disco, smiling at every passer by, enjoying the lack of Wifi, and speaking horrendously broken foreign languages to encourage your babes to do the same.
However, all good things come to an end, and after time away, there is a relief in sinking back into the predictable humdrum of the daily life with it’s non-challenging food, bath times and beds. It is a comfort when everyone knows the routine and full body sun protection is no longer necessary before leaving the house.
When you pop the kettle on, after you’ve perhaps deflatedly but triumphantly made it back through the door, surviving the travel, excitement and food minefields of holidaying with children, I challenge anyone not to, at least inwardly, whisper that night;
“It’s nice to go away, but it’s good to come home. “
So perhaps on reflection, even if just to reset, recalibrate and refuel an appreciation of home, holidays abroad with children are worthwhile.
Even if a more accurate description is:
“Relocation: The action of moving to a new place and establishing one's home or business there.”