Holidays With Children – It’s Not All Fun In The Sun

Holidays With Children – It’s Not All Fun In The Sun

If I think long and hard, I can just about remember holidays without the Little Man. They consisted of long days by the pool. Late nights and lazy lie-ins. Doing whatever we wanted to do when we wanted. This kind of holiday is a distant memory. Holidays with children couldn’t be more different. Of course, they are wonderful. If they weren’t, we wouldn’t go. But there are a few lows that come with the highs, as we discovered on our last holiday to Portugal.

Getting Away

Little Man started school in September. If you are a regular here on this blog, you will be aware of that. The seven weeks between the start of term and half term went by in the blink of an eye and before we knew it, we were getting ourselves ready to go away on the holiday I booked six months ago.

We didn’t go abroad over the Summer. I booked this holiday to Portugal back in April and was looking forward to it being a nice getaway before Christmas and also as a bit of a ‘well done’ for the Little Man for getting through his first half term at ‘big school’.

The first half of the term went really well, but as the weeks went by, the Little Man seemed to be so tired and we seemed to be on the end of quite a few tantrums. As the weeks passed and the holiday got closer and closer I was beginning to wonder whether the holiday was the best idea for us. I was beginning to think that maybe he ideally needed a week at home to catch up and get some much-needed rest. Instead, we were about to start the holiday with a long day travelling and then spend days in the tiring sunshine (I know, I make it sound like hard work – it’s almost laughable!). Kids do get more tired in the heat, we all do. I knew in the back of my mind, it wasn’t going to be restful at all for him.

Tough Days

I’m not going to lie and paint the perfect picture. Of course, I loved being away and in hindsight, I wouldn’t change it for the world. But there were times when I uttered the words “Why the hell did I bother?!”

Some days were hard. Really hard. Holidays with children are never going to be like holidays used to be, but we seem to have hit a stage with the Little Man where he will fly off the handle for no reason. Well actually, that’s not strictly true. It’s usually when he can’t have his own way. You know the sort. The temper tantrums, the answering back. Sometimes I have to ask myself whether he is a fourteen-year-old in a four-year-olds body! This was no exception on holiday and I think it felt worse because we were away from home. We had to deal with more of these situations in public, which is hard enough in your hometown, but when you’re in a foreign country, I don’t know why, but it feels so much worse.

I’ve mentioned before how my Little Man is a fussy eater and thankfully, we did manage to get most of the food he likes and the restaurants were so accommodating, but he seemed to take forever to eat his food and it took so much bribery to get a near-empty plate. It was draining.

I don’t know the actual reasons for the outbursts and the bad behaviour. It isn’t consistent so I am not worried. I am pretty sure he is just exhausted from all of the learning and the new routine and I think it’s his way of letting off steam. He is an angel after a good night’s sleep and lots of rest. It’s when he’s tired he just seems to let it all go. He can release all his frustrations with us because we are his parents and we are his safe place. We are his comfort.

Holidays With Children - It's Not All Fun In The Sun

Whilst I understand all of this, it doesn’t necessarily make it all any easier at the time. It doesn’t stop you from feeling like you screwed up somewhere along the way. When you’re having to stop yourself from yelling at your kid from the other side of the pool because he won’t listen to you. When you can’t chase him because he just runs away. (No one needs to see me running around and around a swimming pool like something out of a Laurel and Hardy sketch, believe me!). When these days happened, it was at times, really hard to pick myself back up.

Let It Go

But pick myself up, I did. After a couple of days of this kind of thing, I decided to just think ‘sod it’. I decided to not let it get to me. This may, or may not have been the right thing to do and some parenting experts out there would likely curse me for saying it. But I just let it go. Yes, he may have been naughty, but I’m pretty certain a lot of it was for attention and possible boredom. He didn’t have his usual toys to play with. It’s not as easy to keep kids entertained on holiday as it is at home. So I started to tell myself ‘just let it go’. The things we were falling out about weren’t that important in the greater scheme of things. Did it really matter if he didn’t clear his plate? Not really. Did it matter if he was in the water for a few more minutes than we would have liked? Not really. I decided to pick my battles and it did help.

I did what I had to do to make the holiday enjoyable and I make no apologies. Did he have more chocolate and ice cream than he probably should have done? Yes, quite possibly. Am I bothered? No. We were on holiday and we all do things differently when we are away. Why shouldn’t the kids too?

When you look at my pictures, on Instagram you could be easily fooled into thinking it was the perfect holiday with no problems. We are all guilty of painting this picture perfect life in glorious technicolour, and I proved that it is so easy to do. Nothing is perfect. But you make it as perfect as you can.

The holiday was lovely, don’t get me wrong. But it wasn’t really the best time to go. I think in hindsight, we perhaps should have let him get a few half terms under his belt before we went on our travels.

No Regrets

I have no regrets though. We are now home and back at school and whilst we are still dealing with some tantrums, as I’m sure most other Reception parents are, we are back to our routine and we are working our way through it.

There were times when we were away that I was convinced I would look back on the holiday and it wouldn’t have that many great memories, but I can safely say that this isn’t the case. I wouldn’t be so desperate to go back if it were! Yes at times, it was hard. Really hard. Holidays with children can be. But I love the bones of that kid and when you’ve got that, it makes it all worth it. Nothing else matters.


How do you find travelling with children? Have you had perfect holidays or nightmare vacations? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to know.


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  1. 3rd November 2017 / 12:59 pm

    I’m the same when it comes to going away. It feels like a lot of effort when about 90% of the holiday is dealing with overtired and over warm kids who seem like they are doing their best to push you over the edge, for that 10% of happy smiley memories. But what a 10% that Is and i will continue to go on the stressful holidays for those snatched moments of happy family time. #thatfridaylinky

  2. 3rd November 2017 / 4:58 pm

    That’s why I love the vacations where I take my parents along – to amuse the kids and keep me from turning into Monster Mommy like I sometimes get at home!

  3. 3rd November 2017 / 9:01 pm

    I totally get this. I love taking the girls on holiday, but they are so tiring! Thanks so much for sharing with #Blogstravaganza xx

  4. 3rd November 2017 / 11:21 pm

    Lovely post Jaki. It’s true, our littles can be so unpredictable, and sometimes we just need to let them vent their frustrations and let it pass. What seems idiotic to us is a huge deal for them. I’m having a load of tantrums from my Little Man atm too (mostly after school, when he’s too tired for reasoning) and these words by you make so much sense – He can release all his frustrations with us because we are his parents and we are his safe place. We are his comfort.
    I’ll remember them during the next meltdown;)

  5. 4th November 2017 / 10:58 am

    Holidays with kids are deffo hard work!! Its full on 24/7 with no let up, any idea of lazing round pools is just a pipe dream lol. Thanks for linking up #Blogstravaganza

  6. 5th November 2017 / 9:05 am

    The girls have always been great when it comes to travelling although I’m knackered when I get home Thank you for linking to #ThatFridayLinky Please come back next week

  7. 6th November 2017 / 9:23 am

    Glad you were still able to make some great memories! #AnythingGoes

  8. Celine
    7th November 2017 / 6:39 am

    This makes me long for hot weather despite the chaos of a kiddy holiday #triumphanttales

  9. Helen
    7th November 2017 / 7:46 am

    So glad you ended up having a lovely time 🙂 My daughter’s behaviour often becomes more challenging on holiday because her routine is changed and I think that causes her internal worry. That unsettled feeling causes her to not listen and follow instructions!

    • Helen
      7th November 2017 / 7:47 am

      Sorry, forgot to say coming over from #TwinklyTuesday 😊

  10. 7th November 2017 / 10:22 am

    This is a great post – I love that you are picking the battles you have. It’s all about the bigger picture-
    and that’s making happy memories x #TriumphantTales

  11. 7th November 2017 / 10:39 am

    I can completely relate and recently wrote a similar post on holidays with kids. There are moments when they are little shits and you wonder why you bothered!! Totally right I think to not let it get to you…and just have a gin instead! #triumphanttales

  12. 7th November 2017 / 1:59 pm

    I like to phrase it that holidays are ‘different’ with children in tow. We travel a fair bit and to get the most out of our days away we aim to stick to the kids’ routine as much as possible. So as long as we stick to the same morning, lunchtime and bedtime routine we can usually squeeze in everything we want in the daytime hours. Our kids thrive on routine, so breakfast for example, if we can find porridge, banana and toast and replicate their morning activities (wake, out of PJs, go to potty, brush teeth/wash face, get dressed, eat breakfast) whereever we are, we usually have a good run at the day! BUT – from experience of a horrific holiday – we also ensure we stay on our own, usually in an Air bnb so we can have time out zones for the kids!

    • 7th November 2017 / 2:00 pm

      Visiting from #TriumphantTales

  13. 7th November 2017 / 2:45 pm

    Gosh our little ones can yoyo between being the best thing in the world to terror tots. Thinking back to our trip to Windermere this year I know this was certainly the case. #PoCoLo

  14. 7th November 2017 / 9:27 pm

    I LOVE and always have loved holidays with kids. You can have crappy days at home too, but at least when you’re away, you’re having some pay off too. Usually, also, I find kids step up to the plate. Our then 2 year old, who went to bed at 7, was managing to turn up to restaurants in France at 7 and leave at 10 and be perfectly behaved. His favourite time of day was going for pre dinner drinks (as the bar put out chips). They just see things differently. As soon as we got home (and even the 24 hour flight was fine as he could watch tv endlessly, something not allowed at home), we went to a restaurant at 6 and had to flee in embarrassment by 7…back to normal….
    When I had my third child, we went on a resort holiday when she was 6 days old. Best decision ever. I could do all the feeding etc without having to cook or clean for anyone, and the 2 big siblings had fun at the beach or pool. All I had to do was get us to breakfast before 10 – the only obligation of the day.#CityTripping

  15. 8th November 2017 / 8:11 am

    This post really resonates with me i always feel exactly this way on any family holiday since I had my kids. I use your let it go approach alot- let’s face it, it’s all about making some few key memories with our children not really about the holiday itself if it makes sense. I saw some of your insta photos and he looked so happy in those key moments that definitely counts for something! We survived Cuba just in August with our 2 boys just before my older son started reception, guessed who booked another family holiday to Dubai in December…me! When would I learn? Never 🙂

  16. 8th November 2017 / 8:17 am

    Forgot to add #triumphanttales

  17. 8th November 2017 / 10:47 am

    I think sometimes we all feel like having some down time in our homes just to catch up. It’s hard to judge so far in advance and you have to book these days. Glad he got ice-cream and a chance to live outside the rules. #TriumphantTales

  18. aliduke79hotmailcom
    8th November 2017 / 2:51 pm

    We have only been to Butlins or other holiday camps with the kids so they were fully entertained all day. I am sure if this wasn’t the case then we would have had a lot of arguing! Kids do these things when they are bored and tired. I think what you did was the right thing. Besides all kids eat more ice cream etc when on holiday lol.

  19. 8th November 2017 / 5:12 pm

    I know how you feel – we went away for a weekend break last week and our 3yo was sooo grumpy on the saturday. I have no idea why – maybe because we were out of routine? Maybe because she was feeling under the weather? Maybe because she didn’t like the itinerary we’d chosen? I don’t know. But I found myself more annoyed than usual because this was supposed to be a special weekend and we were supposed to have fun on that weekend. It’s hard. But Sunday, she was like a different child and loved it all. Who knows what goes on in their heads! lol #triumphanttales

  20. Kate@TheMumConundrum
    8th November 2017 / 5:49 pm

    I have to say, we took our two eldest away when they were 2 years and 6 months old…


    Put us off for two whole years. It’s a real balancing act trying to find the right destination and holiday type. I think it’s impressive that you survived unscathed enough not to regret it! Hopefully next time around it will be a bit more relaxing and a bit less of a slog x

  21. 9th November 2017 / 9:58 am

    As a parent of kids with autism, some holidays work for us and others don’t. We just try not to stress when it goes wrong and chill out. #triumphanttales

  22. mebeingmummy
    9th November 2017 / 10:23 am

    Am yet to venture abroad with our two because every time I contemplate it I get overwhelmed with things such as packing and getting through flights and not being in familiar territory and then I just back away from the idea… very slowly. Haha! Holidaying here worked well for us this year but it is expensive in comparison. #TriumphantTales

  23. Donna (@bobsysmum)
    9th November 2017 / 1:45 pm

    We took my parents one year, and it was so much easier. We at least got to have a little break. #Coolmumclub

  24. 9th November 2017 / 8:54 pm

    Do you know what, we spent 4 days in Eurodisney and I think elements of the holiday share the same sentiment. Kids don’t pine after travel the same way we do – they don’t undertand the relevance of cost, having waited so long for it, or how much effort it took to arrange. They see the obvious, the here and now…and the ‘why can’t I buy another stuffed toy’ tantrum commences! (“I never get anything”….little buggers!!).
    Thanks so much for linking to #coolmumclub

  25. 10th November 2017 / 12:17 pm

    The first couple of holidays away were a bit painful while I was younger but thankfully they are getting easier 🙂 I think everyone is responsible for painting a beautiful picture on holiday x #DreamTeam

  26. 10th November 2017 / 10:19 pm

    We’ve yet to travel abroad with ours, this will come next year and it worries me. When we holiday in this country we can load the car with toys and things that remind them of home, it wont be the same abroad but I am determined to make the most of it. We haven’t been abroad on a hot holiday since before Reuben was born!! #TriumphantTales

  27. Victoria Nilsson
    11th November 2017 / 10:39 pm

    We took our toddler travelling when she was 4 months old for the first time. It was a little scary at first, but like you say you just go with it. A month later we took her to Croatia for 3 months ( while I was on my mat leave) and it was stressful getting her to sleep and feeding her and weaning her, but we got through it. x

  28. 12th November 2017 / 12:19 pm

    I totally understand where you are coming from. It’s holiday, and everything should be sunshine and roses. Leave it to little man to stir the pot. Bravo for you for letting it go, and even more, for sharing this with us, so when we all go with our littles, experience the same cr*p and feel like sh*t parents, we can know that sometimes, this is all part of the playbook. TY! <3 #triumphanttales xoxo

  29. 12th November 2017 / 4:52 pm

    We’re going to try our first overseas holiday with the littles next June and much as I’m looking forward to it, I’m expecting it to be totally different to holidays pre-tots. Our eldest was exhausted after her first half term in Reception too so I can absolutely relate to the tantrums and unusually demanding moments. I think you have it spot on when you say that we are their safe place, and after weeks of holding back their behaviours and new emotions at school, we are the place that they can just be. Thanks for linking up to #DreamTeam Jaki x

  30. 12th November 2017 / 8:55 pm

    Holidays are totally different nowadays! I’m glad you made the most of it though lovely. To clarify, Zach is exactly the same right now – he is exhausted beyond belief and the emotions and tantrums are another level! Thanks for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

  31. 13th November 2017 / 12:40 pm

    Anya started school in September and is exhausted so very emotional and irrational. I can’t imagine being on holiday with her! #triumphanttales

  32. 13th November 2017 / 2:06 pm

    That first term can be quite trying, especially when they’re new to learning. I remember it being tough for both my boys. It sounds like you still managed to enjoy your holiday though so good for you.
    The tantrums don’t last long – or at least they go away for a while, till they hit their teens!
    Thanks for linking to #pocolo

  33. 15th November 2017 / 10:34 pm

    So much of this rings true when I think of our recent holiday with the kids. Some days really can be hard work and I think we all wonder at times why we even bothered. But I think the best thing to do is just roll with it as you say and try and laugh it off a little – not always easy with tantrums! They do get so irrational when they’re overtired, but they are also creating so many great memories and experiencing new things x #coolmumclub

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