Whatever you imagine a holiday is like – from marinating yourself by the pool and in margaritas, to hiking through tick-swollen jungles, and everything in between – it’s nothing like what you’re imagining when you chuck a young child into the mix.
Because when you’re holidaying with a tiny human being, you set your sights a little lower – like reading two pages of your book uninterrupted without sticky fingers prising your attention away.
A holiday with your child is eye-opening, because you realise what a moron they are. Even the simplest instructions become a NASA manual to them. You know, stuff like STAND THERE, DON’T MOVE, STOP TOUCHING STUFF, and HOLD ONTO YOUR HAT BEFORE IT BLO ahh never mind. The really tricky stuff.
A holiday with your child is when they develop an unhealthy attachment to Crocs. Those things ain’t ever coming off. They’re a permanent attachment to chubby feet. Deal with it. Bath, beach, bed, funerals – they’re all Crocs-appropriate.
The soundtrack of your child-accompanying holiday is a monotonous cacaphony of high-pitched whines and moans that endlessly repeat – I’m hungry, I’m bored, I’m tired, I’m hot, I’m cold, where are we going, are we there yet. Which forces you, on a daily basis, to stifle the urge to mutter you don’t even know how lucky you are like a demented embittered elderly aunt while simultaneously chanting shut up shut up shut up.
Everyone knows the secret to the best holiday is sleep and well-rested humans. This means you’ll end up trying to replicate your home routine while away. Although this may remove some of that spectacular summer spontaneity – the off-the-beaten-track dinner of rabbit stew that is literally the tastiest thing you’ve ever put in your mouth – you know that a little human who’s sleeping well means more happiness the next day.
Because there’s still joy and love and laughter in holidaying with small children – a sickening amount, actually. Like late afternoon visits to the beach, sandy toes and wave-laden shrieks. Sun warmed pebbles beneath sand coarsened feet. Jammy ice cream kisses. Impromptu tight-around-the-neck hugs. Wind whipped hair.
There are memories to be made that slip through your fingers, terrifyingly fast, like sand. A kaleidoscope of new colours and smells and sounds and tastes.
All these experiences indelibly mark your skin and senses, and you hope that they’re somehow seeping into your child’s consciousness, making their mark, taking root, building their dreams and hopes, and imprinting on their personality.
Then of course there are the snatched hours in the evening when you’ve finally wrestled sticky sun-weary small bodies into bed. When it’s you time and a semblance of ‘ordinary’ holiday time – interrupted reading / TV slobbing / local beverage imbibing time.
But if there’s anything that holidaying with small children teaches you, it’s that ‘ordinary’ is overrated.