Bringing children on holidays: Reality versus expectation

Holidays with young children are not for the faint-hearted, writes Amanda Cassidy...But we wouldn't have it any other way.


'I once appeared on Ireland's national breakfast show as a parenting expert to discuss tips for flying with children', I remind myself as I herd my children onto the plane. We are off to Spain for two weeks and my fellow child-handler (and co-creator of these three scamps) is joining us in a few days so I will be flying solo. 'I can do this', I repeat over and over as I sit back and pretend to read my book while sneaking a peek over at my flamingo-clad trio.

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There is nothing quite like the sweet smell of balmy nights and warm air as you arrive on holidays. But it also lulls you into a false sense of relaxation that you equate with your youth. The truth is that holidays with children are an exercise in making happy memories for them while you slather factor 50 and curse the lack of blinds in the holiday apartment.

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I'll do loads of exercise

While you may have visions of gentle jogs past bougainvillaea-clad parks, the reality is that the only running you will be doing is around the pool after a kamikaze toddler or to the bar for a quick Aperol spritz once they are asleep.

I'll get to read my book

Yes, totally - if by book you mean instructions on armbands or foreign antibiotics or translating the children's menu before they start throwing the glasses off the tables.

We'll make such happy memories

Of course, all the moments are memories. How happy they are is relative. It is only now we can look back on that holiday where we spent 99% of our time pushing a pram up and down by the pool trying to get the colicky baby to sleep with fondness. Or the holiday where we decided not to bring the pram at all and ended up having damp toddlers wrapped around our being for most of the time.

They'll have such fun on the beach

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Minding tiny children on large, hot, public beaches is not always the most fun thing in the world. Being a human pack-horse as you drag yourself through the piping hot sand with buckets and spades hanging from your every available limb is challenging. Running after them with suncream that then sticks to the sand and then their eyes as they rub them is also hardcore. Only when they are settled by the shore digging a large hole can you try to relax.

But then...muuuuuum I have to pee.

They'll love the kids club

Or, if you are my children, you will act as if we have sent you to some sort of punishment prison. Yes, we are coming back. Right after you make us another colourful beaded bracelet.

We will introduce them to new foods and cultures

Peekaboo, my four-year-old shouts at the lady in the hijab as we queue up in the mall.  Exposing the children to new cultures isn't for the fainthearted. They do take to the highly exotic prawns pil-pil until we reveal that yes, the fishes are dead and yes, you ate a dead fishy.

Inevitably, it is back to pizza and pasta for the rest of the week.

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We'll sit out on the balcony with our wine in the evenings

Yes, it happens...eventually. After we organise black sacks to darken the windows that remain stubbornly bright and cheerful post 11pm. We will finally collapse after we sit outside the room making sure the toddler doesn't wake up and freak out.

We will deserve our glass of local rosé after reassuring the seven-year-old that cockroaches can't actually climb up into our apartment.

But then we do sit out, with the pretty view and the smell of sleepy sunshine and sip our cold grapes and talk about how cute the children were with their ice-creams and how precious these moments really are. We will agree it is the best holiday yet and we will talk about where we are going next year.

Happy holidays!

Image via Unsplash.com

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