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.
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.
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.
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.
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Photographs in the sunshine with golden beaches can sometimes paint a picture perfect vision when sometimes it isn’t perfect. We’re all guilty of it. Holidays with little ones bring with them their challenges. In our case for the first couple of days a seriously overtired little boy. Finishing his first 7 weeks at school followed by a long day travelling here had taken it’s toll and is resulted in a stroppy four year old. After a lunchtime nap today with the hope it recharged some batteries I’m hoping we’ve turned a corner. If all else fails. There’s always love, right? 💙 #holiday #family #sunshine #shadows
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.
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.