Alexandra Hunter talks about the stresses and anxieties Mamas face when going on holidays with their little ones.
Two weeks ago I went to a friend’s wedding in Devon. The journey was a dream; I set the alarm for 5am, showered, made coffee to-go and was on the road for 5.30am. I put my foot down and arrived at my destination three hours later having avoided all traffic and the horror of motorway service stations. I had the pleasure of listening to the TED Talks I wanted to catch up on and had breakfast and a nap at the hotel before getting ready for the ceremony at a leisurely pace. My friend very sensibly decided on no children at the wedding as she concluded it would be more relaxing for all guests, most of whom are parents, and it was. We drank, danced and slept on the beach the next morning, hanging but happy.
The word holiday develops a very different meaning post children. Gone are the days of late nights (there’s no point if you know your child will wake at 6am irrespective of your wine intake) and long lie ins, reading entire novels in a day and running on your own schedule is pure fantasy. Holidays with kids, unless you’re lucky enough to have a nanny or exceptionally willing partner, are no longer the relaxing experiences of your prior life.
Seb and I missed out on the free flights for under 2s, I was anxious about everything we’d need to take with us (the list was endless) and it was easier to holiday in the UK.
Sebby, Piglet and I arrived in Polzeath yesterday afternoon for our annual family holiday. The day before I spent running around packing, writing lists, panicking about forgetting specific teddies required to sleep and obtaining copious amounts of fish fingers because I was scared they might not sell them in the West Country and then what would we do! A friend pointed out this was not the case but if it satisfied my anxiety and made me calm then I should crack on.
My child is in fact a dream to travel with and he’s terribly reasonable but I find the preparation and travel stressful. We stopped at three service stations en route for loo trips, lunch and relieving boredom. I now know the words to the entire Aladdin soundtrack as we had it on loop for five hours and I can’t get it out of my head. I have never felt more middle aged than when I had no choice but to purchase a Thule roof rack as I couldn’t fit everything required for a holiday in my Mini (the largest one on the market I hasten to add), £500 confirming that my life had changed irrevocably and I would never be able to throw a bikini and a few dresses in my suitcase and hop on a plane again.
Holidays are tiring, but they contain so much joy, moments when you know that there is nothing that could make you happier than you are in that moment with your child. Today we went to the beach and explored the caves looking for bears and the rock pools searching for Nemo.
I come back from our holidays needing another holiday but so very happy. Buy that roof rack or book that flight, the pleasure they get from a holiday with you makes all the logistical stress seem insignificant.