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Dublin: 7 °C Monday 16 September, 2019
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Opinion: Next year there will be no ‘family holiday’ – there will be a ‘staycation’

The only way to have a proper break is to leave the kids at home.

Claire Micks

FEEL LIKE YOU haven’t had a holiday? Maybe that’s because you haven’t!

Remember back in May when the ‘any holidays planned?’ inquiry became typical small talk? Remember the great plans of sun, sea, sand and relaxing by the pool? Remember when your bank balance looked a lot healthier pre Ryanair, Playa de ‘cash-drain’, and some random Spanish hotel chain taking their annual cut? Remember the high hopes and wistful visions of romantic glasses of wine on the balcony, whilst exhausted but happy children slept soundly in their beds…

Reality v the dream

Now remember the sun burn. The sand in places such gritty substances should never venture.

Remember the nightmare that was packing and the nagging ‘what have we forgotten feeling’? The exactitude of the weight and size measurements required to avoid the airline’s ‘uninitiated packer’ penal rate.

Remember the marathon plane ride and the inevitable dirty nappy changed in a toilet the size of a shoebox. Just as the ‘fasten selt beat’ sign lit up.

Remember the lost luggage containing irreplaceable ‘blankie’. And the inhaler. And the fight which ensured over who packed them there in the first place…

Remember the excitement, the anticipation, and the sheer exhaustion by the time you disembarked the plane.

Remember sitting on the beach tinged blue with factor 50 as Daddy tried not to ogle the bronzed local beauties.

Or staring longingly at the jacuzzi wishing for just 10 minutes to yourself, whilst simultaneously trying to gauge the probability of your ‘snug fit’ swim nappy managing to contain his latest offering should be decide to ‘let loose’ in the baby pool.

Remember the hangovers from the ‘quality’ local brew and the inability to find decent coffee.

Remember the tantrums when the children’s new-found friends fecked off home to civilisation a week earlier than your three year old had banked on. Leaving only their 10pm bedtime and Mr Freeze habit in their wake.

Is it any wonder we come back more wrecked than we went?

Feel like you haven’t had a holiday? Perhaps that’s because you haven’t!

An adult holiday 

The only way for an adult who has children to have a holiday is to go away without them. Otherwise we just need to accept that the holiday is not a holiday within the traditional meaning of the word. It is doing the same job as you do at home, without the inevitable breaks paid employment provides, in an unfamiliar and potential treacherous environment. No familiar routines. No usual ‘boundaries’. No childproofing. No understanding GP around the corner. No holiday…

How often do we hear ‘Well, the kids enjoyed it…’, a polite euphemism for ‘It was hard work’.

Maybe we just need to adjust our expectations?

Either we make a conscious decision to accept that the family holiday is a challenge to be tackled, a mission to be conquered, and if it turns out to be anything more enjoyable than that, it’s a bonus. Or we make what could be seen as a very selfish decision (but one which I’d prefer to view it as an entirely reasonably exercise in self preservation) that we are skipping the family ‘holiday’ in favour of a mini break where mummy and daddy go solo as a preferable, life-saving alternative.

When you add to the equation the fact that the annual holiday can effectively equate to trading one job for two if you have any kind of ongoing connection with the day job, that can leave you doubly knackered. Most honest parents will fully admit that ten days in the office is far easier to manage than ten days exclusively minding their own children. So when your ‘holiday’ involves the latter, with a smattering of the former, that does not equate to relaxation. In fact it equates to quite the opposite. Not to mention the omni present ‘Are we having fun yet?’ pressure. As we dole out the aftersun and the Imodium. And mummy and daddy try not to bicker too much over who got an extra five minutes on their own in the pool.

Next year there will be no ‘holiday’. There will be a ‘stay-cation’. In the most literal sense of the word. Until they are old enough to be successfully dispatched to the Kid’s Camp without tears and tantrums, without toilet ‘accidents’ and biting incidents, we shall be remaining conspicuously close to home.

Busman’s Holiday? Not just yet thanks.

Claire Micks is an occasional writer.

Thanks a bunch boss… Apparently 8 out of 10 of us have been contacted by work while on holidays

What’s the most popular foreign destination for the Irish?

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About the author:

Claire Micks

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