I haven’t written for so long so first of all apologies for that. But we’ve been super busy of late, most notably with our yearly family holiday.
Every year we go away with my husbands family; parents, sisters, brothers, plus their other halves and a few kids thrown in for good measure.
Sounds like chaos right! And you’d be correct; it can be very very chaotic. But it’s also bags of fun. I know a lot of people may be surprised at that, and find the idea of going away with their in-laws similar to hell on earth but we’re lucky that overall no one really annoys each other plus you’ve also got the added bonus of having about 8 people there to help you out with looking after the sprogs.
Now I’ll be honest; I like routine, even on holiday. Not Gina Ford routine; I can’t be that structured. But I do like to know we’ll be back at our lovely holiday cottage around 5 or 6ish to do Josh’s dinner, bath, and bed. A lot of people I know, including my sister in law who holidays with us, are far more relaxed when on holiday and completely go with the flow, and have no issue with keeping the kids up a bit later. But I am a firm believer, and I apologise if this sounds at all arrogant, that I know best when it comes to Josh, and what will keep me relatively relaxed. I know if he has that routine and familiarity then he is far more likely to settle down to bed and sleep through. And praise the Lord that’s exactly what he did on this holiday even though he was sleeping in a travel cot (** UBER TIP ALERT: Buy a proper mattress that fits your travel cot – I PROMISE your toddler will sleep so much better on it. We got this one from Amazon and it’s the best money we’ve ever spent).
Hand in hand with this came something I had to do on this holiday; relax. And I suppose, compromise to an extent. There were days when Sam might fancy a pint in a gorgeous beer garden at the end of the day before returning home to sort Josh. I remember one day I could see the clock ticking to beyond 5.30. I could feel myself getting a bit irritated inside thinking “I just want to get him back and sorted because if he settles, then (selfishly I suppose) I can relax and enjoy my evening”. But, annoyingly, Sam was quite right; when we did stay out a bit later it really made no difference. We either delayed the bedtime routine by an hour, or Josh just went with time and soon let me know he was tired and ready for bed. It was quite the eye opener for me; did all this worry about the dinner and bedtime routine make me some sort of control freak. I am a worrier, I’ll grant you that, but I don’t like the idea of being so rigid and it causing me, and others, to not enjoy such occasions. I had to remind myself and encourage myself to relax. It’s such a cliché but Happy Mummy really does equal a Happy Baby. I noticed that when I just went with the flow a bit, somehow things did just fall into place and Josh was perfectly happy and probably quite shattered anyway as he spent approximately 98% of is holiday running; towards the sea, after ponies, around the garden… you get the picture.
All that running around was something I was glad Josh did for several reasons. One; he had fun! Two; he shattered himself out. But most importantly to me, three; Sam, and the others saw that we truly have a child who doesn’t stop. Josh has to be near on falling asleep to sit with me and read. The kid is constantly on the move. I love his energy, his enthusiasm and curiosity to explore everything. But sometimes, such as on the beach, you’d like to just sit for 5 minutes and watch them play. This is something I simply can’t do; he was either legging it to the sea (which was lovely to see, and I loved splashing him about with him in the water), so not exactly an instance where I could leave him to his own devices, or he was finding it socially acceptable to run up to other children, show great interest in their buckets and spades, and then casually walking off with them with me frantically legging it after him glowing with embarrassment at my 19 month olds new found love for kleptomania!
In all seriousness, these sorts of things did cause me to have a couple of moments where I felt frustrated to tears (blame hormones)! One day on the beach when this sort of thing happened, and I apologised to the family he’d gone over to and gate-crashed, Josh had a totally hissy fit on me; full on crying and thrashing about. Sam was on the phone frantically trying to extend our car parking (long story) and I could feel the eyes of the family Josh had gone over to, and the eyes of Sam’s family further down the beach, all on me as I tried to subtly calm Josh down even though I was gritting my teeth, blushing and swearing my head off silently! I felt stupid; I felt like it looked as though I couldn’t cope. Sam, in his typical blunt manner, told me to stop being ridiculous and we decided to go off and do our own thing that afternoon. Once I’d calmed down, Sam brought it up and made me feel a lot better as he pointed out something very obvious. If I’d had a kid come over to where I was sat on the beach, blatantly running around and being cheeky I’d have laughed good naturedly, and I’d have given the Mum a look to say “don’t worry, we all go through this chaos”. Sam pointed out that it’s more than likely the family that Josh bothered had probably done exactly that too me but I’d totally missed that because I was too caught up in unnecessary embarrassment. No one will have been judging me. Why is it not till after these things happen we realise this eh.
We had one rainy day on holiday and found a soft play place for the afternoon. Josh was up to his old tricks of tearing around like a nutter but in a confined space, I could relax a bit. I got chatting to another Mum who’s nappy bag Josh had taken a liking to and decided to empty, and I opened up a bit about how you sometimes almost feel dread coming to these places, where your kid might, and more often than not, will cause havoc and that I have sometimes felt embarrassed in-case it’s looked like I can’t control my own curly haired baba! The woman I spoke to was like an angel sent to stressed Mums everywhere; she simply said to me “don’t ever be embarrassed. It’s not just you; we ALL have moments where our kids are going to thrive in their independence, do what they want and run rings around you”. She made me realise it’s normal. It’s parenting. No child is perfect; they are going to pull tampons out of a random ladies bag in a café; they are going to leg it directly to the ocean when you go to the beach; they are going to scare the crap out of you by (quite brilliantly) hiding behind a curtain for what feels like an eternity (I guess it was about 45 seconds……!) and staying there because they’ve not quite figured out the concept of peek a boo whilst your frantically looking for them.
Our kids are beautiful. They’re ours, they’re our pride and joy no matter how mischievous they are. They keep us on our toes. They are hard bloody work. They are worth it. And I know that now I must simply remind myself of that and that it’s not just me. I am not a stand alone mother who has a naughty child. I am a regular, tired but utterly in love mother to a cheeky, energetic and thoroughly happy little boy.
That goes for all of us. And that’s what truly matters.
PS. A few quick tips for holidays with toddlers:
- Their diet will be appalling in comparison to what it is normally. Remember it’s holiday – they’re allowed treats (ice cream, pain-au-chocolats, crisps; all of these become staple food points on holiday plus they are an amazing bribing tool). Go with it.
- The iPad is your friend. Don’t be judged by anyone for this!
- Get the biggest beach bag going… the amount of shit you take is incredible. Don’t be disheartened when even all the crap you’ve brought isn’t good enough and your child wants someone else’s bucket and spade!
- Try not to be too controlling; this is your holiday too and if you don’t go with the flow you’ll get stressed, take it out on your husband and then get into bickering territory; Not fun on holiday!
- Treat yourself; you’ve most likely rescued your child from certain death with their eager attempts at launching themselves in the ocean multiple times. You deserve a holiday goodie!
- Sand will get EVERYWHERE. It’s a universal law. Load up on baby wipes and bottles of water in your epically over sized beach bag.
- Enjoy it. Your making memories. Don’t spend most of your time trying to get the perfect photo; just watch your little one with your own eyes. Those little smiles and moments will stay imprinted on your mind forever.
- Don’t forget suncream – it may add to the sand hell but it’s 100% worthwhile!
- Gin is ALWAYS acceptable.