YOU’VE waited all year for this moment and now it’s here, you’re not quite enjoying it yet.
Yes, holiday season is here and anyone with children is frantically writing lists, buying up first aid kits and worrying about passports.
That’s before the little darlings have even got to being sick in the car/train/ferry or needing a wee just after you’ve left the service station.
Holidaying with kids is hard work. But with a few simple tips your break might just end up being the relaxing family break you need.
- Packing: Make a list of everything you use on a daily basis. Then halve it. Then halve it again. Think of things that it would be uneconomical to buy or hire once you get there, like car seats, travelcots, listeners and buggies. Luggage charges on flights now make it very difficult for families with young children. A pack of nappies is heavy. A few in your hand luggage isn’t. Other countries do sell nappies. If you have older children, share items out like spare socks, water bottles, books and their toys in a backpack they are responsible for.
- Food and drink: If travelling by car, don’t overload them on sweets as soon as you’re five minutes from home or you’ll be smelling sick for the rest of the journey. Give treats in moderation, when bribery keeps the peace. Don’t forget drinks, and don’t believe them if they tell you they don’t need to go at scheduled stops. Packing a few sandwiches and fruit for a journey will save you a fortune too.
- Embrace technology: We played I-Spy and Count-the-Green-Cars. They play Fifa 2010 and Super Mario on their games consoles, listen to MP3 players and watch in-car DVDs. Make sure everything is fully charged before you leave. And leave them to it.
- Make a first aid box. Just to keep your mind at rest. A plastic tub with a lid containing Calpol sachets, headache pills, antiseptic cream, antihistamine, a bandage, sling, plasters and antibac wipes goes on holiday with me.
- Swimming: If you know there’s a pool or beach, take trunks, cossies, goggles and armbands, and do not ever assume someone else will watch your children.
- Weather: This is the tricky one. I always over pack for changeable conditions. Thinner waterproofs and layers is lighter than carting your winter coat with you. Unless you are going skiing.
- Shoes: Again, try and keep it light. Wellies, Croc-style slip ons or flip flops, something everyone can walk in and if you can squeeze them in, something nice for you for evenings.
- Beware of airport restrictions: You may think you can persuade them otherwise, but security staff at airports will make you dump the eight cartons of baby milk and juice you’ve just bought, only for you to have to buy it again at the other end. They will even take baby bottles from your screaming tot and pour it away. Take powder and mix bottles with fresh water once through the barriers. Hot water should be available on flights.
- Essentials: Whatever age your children, carry baby wipes, something to draw/write on, a small ball, Top Trumps, a mobile phone and your sense of humour. Holidays are meant to be relaxing, so don’t try to stick rigidly to a schedule or panic because the eggs aren’t organic. Break the usual rules a little.
- The Stupid Family Game: If you don’t have one, you should. Ours is “Guess Person Who?” and is based on the traditional game where someone thinks of a person and the others have to ask questions to guess who it is. Ours gets very silly, and usually takes at least an hour before everyone gets bored or falls out.