The first time we went on holiday abroad with our daughter, I vouched never to travel with her again until she was at least 12. The terrible twos hit big time. Our usually well-behaved, sociable child suddenly turned into an unpredictable monster, creating chaos wherever she toddled. On previous holidays, we used to look forward to getting dressed for dinner and enjoying our evening meals together: it was the highlight of our day. This time, we began to dread entering the hotel’s dining room. Glasses would be knocked over, food spilled everywhere and a screaming child would be sprawled on the floor. We felt the eyes of the other diners upon us–some looking on in sympathy, but most in disapproval.
The following year we had a long weekend away on our own. And guess what? We missed our daughter. I wondered what she would have made of the flight, how she would have enjoyed the sightseeing, and what she was up to back home? I spent the three days speaking to her regularly on the phone and searching for a special present to take back to her.
Can’t holiday with them; can’t holiday without them. So what can you do? Well, you could choose a holiday with a kids’ club. You may not want to use it every day but at least you can have a couple of hours’ rest should you need it. Play areas, walks and mini discos are also great ways of burning off excess energy.
Prepare for poor weather with indoor games, colouring books and stories. In terms of toys: the smaller the better. Matchbox cars, Polly Pockets, Little Ponies and throw-away fast-food freebie toys can all be adapted to whatever terrain: sand, grass, patios, balconies, even marble floors. Mentally prepare for your living space to become an indoor play area.
Being out of their routine is bound to take its toll on small children. Some quiet time (if not a nap) during the day may make the later evenings more bearable. Making friends with other families on holiday can also help. The children can entertain each other while the parents try and enjoy their meal with adult company. It’s not the same as holidays pre-children, but we no longer dread this important family time.
We’ve been going to the same resort for the last few years now with both of our children. We’ve found a formula that works: a kids’ club, other families, a play area on site…..and you know what? We now look forward to our family holidays. And the highlight of our day now? The mini disco. How times change.