A LOT changes when you become a parent – there’s the obvious; no sleep, constant worry, weaning, potty training, balancing work, nursery and school, being a human snack dispenser….and then, there’s holidays.
Before Kids – Adults only, boozy boutiques, no ‘put on’ evening entertainment, somewhere with equal measure of ‘fly and flop’ and city culture and adventure. Or maybe even a spontaneous weekend city break, booked a few hours before, after a quick holiday sign off from Helen in HR. Long haul? No problem, more time to take advantage of the in-flight drinks and read a few more chapters of your book – maybe even watch a movie or two.
After Kids – Unless it’s got ‘Family Life‘ or ‘Holiday Village‘ in the title, I’m not even considering it, anything over three hour flight time? Forget it. Anything over an hour and a half transfer? I’d rather pluck my pubes out. You finally choose a holiday, only to find there’s no ‘Free Kids Places’ and your holiday from hell will now be more than a years mortgage payments because you’re going in the summer holidays. But at least you’ll have Captain T and the Superdogs for company every evening.
Before Kids – Sashay around the shops spending those hard earned wages on you – and only you. Plan your shopping trips weeks in advance, write up the ‘essentials’ lists – bikini for your firm, washboard stomach, flip flop and heel choices for every day that you’re there. An an extra pair of each ‘just in case’. New make up treats from the John Lewis beauty counters – nothing too heavy, illuminating creams work well to show off those sunkissed freckles. No need for concealer – no eye bags here! Try on all clothes before heading for a leisurely lunch and your bikini and leg wax.
After Kids – Mad dash around Primark; one child asleep, the other playing hide and seek under the Disney clothes racks demanding Frozen fleece pyjamas – threaten “we’re going on a summer holiday, not the Antarcyic, if you don’t put those back and stand up in 1….2…..don’t make me say 3″, cursing yourself that you’ve become that mum. Grab a handful of the bargain 33.30 sundresses for her, some shorts for him and leave empty handed for you. Find yourself making do with a pair of ‘mock crocs’ from down the Special Buys aisle at your local Aldi whilst you’re doing your weekly shop.
Before Kids – Leave the house two hours before your allotted flight check in time. Alarm goes off 45 minutes before, quick hop in the shower, make up on, ‘nice’ travelling clothes, stop for a Costa drive thru and talk excitedly about your forthcoming week of R&R.
After Kids – Weigh up the options of waking the house at 2am to bundle confused, whiney kids in to the car for a trip down the M25 or an airport hotel for the night before. Opt for the airport hotel , you’ve already mortgaged for this summer holiday, why stop spending now? You pack the car up, noone can see out of the windows or boot, kids argue over who sits in the middle. You and your husband aren’t talking either because “do we really need to take this much away, we’re only going for a week”…
Check in, give the kids dinner at the attached restaurant, noone eats it instead they just get high on fruit shoots, retire back to the room at 8pm as it’s already past the kids bedtime. Turn all te lights off, only a phone screen for company. Will them to hurry the fuck up and go to sleep so you can go and enjoy your ‘childfree’ wine sat in the bathroom. Dulcet tone of the extractor fan for company. Kids dont get the memo so you eventually give in and bed sown for the night too. At 8.25pm.
Before kids – Stroll through security, 100ml and under make up and smellies all neatly packed ready into the clear plastic bag. Stroll around duty free, browse the designer shops. Stop for a coffee, grab a magazine and decide to start your holiday with a wine.
After Kids – Round up the troops. And the trunkis. Trunkis abandoned before check-in, the hard hip hitters attached to your shoulder whilst dragging overtired non-hotel sleeping children, whilst also trying to push the handle in on the trolley to make it move. Check in. Arrive at security, find that one of the kids have put your best cleanser in a hand luggage bag, over 100ml. Instant confiscation. Silently curse them. And your life. Every Trunki searched for LOL dolls, Peppa Pig figures and rogue water bottles. Pram beeps through X-Ray, swabbed down – not even that gets it right first time. Know you’re holding up all the daily business commuters, try to keep composure even though you know you’re a flustered, sweaty mess.
Drag the kids through the main aisle of the Duty Free shop away from the glitzy lights, sunglasses and perfumes. Queue at Burger King for a quick bite to eat – sell a limb to pay for it.
Before Kids – Stroll on, book or Kindle in hand thinking whether to order a vodka, wine or gin when the hostesses come round. Pray that you’re not seated by kids screaming, laughing too loudly, kicking the back of your chair or pushing back on the chair infront or running up and down the aisle. Wonder why there’s no ‘Adult Only’ flights.
After Kids – You get priority boarding but who wants to be sat on that flight any longer than necessary? oard as late as possible. Kids fight over who sits with mum – trade silence for sweets. Which were meant to be for take off. Ears have popped, crying and screaming ensues. So does the crying, svcreaming, hysterical laughter and much seat kicking. Feel sorry for the passengers within a 20 seat radius. Walk up and down the aisle numerous times with various children, for trips to the smallest toilet in the world.
Before Kids – Wake up when you wake. Big stretches, cuppa in bed. Stroll out to a nice, quiet little nearby restaurant to get brunch. Biggest dilemma being which bikini to wear that day. Go on a few day trips – usually involving a liquid lunch. Fall in love with each other all over again.
Before Kids – Get woken up at the usual UK ungodly hour but do a little rejoice that we’re an hour ahead, so for one week it feels like the kids are giving us a lie in. Until 6.30am. Cream the kids up, put them in full body UV sun suits and hats they don’t keep on. Find an area with loungers, dump the towels and everything down – never sit down on it, spend the day wishing you had GPS and a personal lifeguard for each child. Sit staring and clockwatching until the kids club session begins.
Before Kids – After your liquid lunch, come the evening you work your way through the cocktail menu and roll into bed in the early hours, safe in the knowledge that the beach is just a stumble away in the morning.
After Kids – Celebrate another day of no sunstroke or drowned children. With a cup of tea before collapsing into bed at 9pm, after another warm mix match all inclusive dinner.
Before Kids – Upload all your dreamy holiday snaps to Instagram – that illuminating make up requires no filter. Extend the holiday by meeting up with the girls for a full holiday rundown with your strap free, no white bits tan.
After Kids – Return home more exhausted then before you left. Who knew that was even possible?Empty case upon case of washing out, realise you’ve brought half the beach home with you. A few of the t-shirts have started moulding due to icecream spillages down the front, others are stained beyond recognition from the yellow sun cream streaks – don’t even feel annoyed, just be thankful that it’s a few less bits of washing and ironing to do. Get packed lunches and uniforms ready. But do it all with a full heart remembering how happy the kids faces have been having you all to themselves for the week.
What’s been the biggest surprise of holiday’ing with kids for you?