My family diary: lads on tour

Where “lads” means me, my husband, and two over-ice-creamed children

Illustration showing suitcase and children playing on the beach


“The only way to enjoy it is to let go of all the rules,” a friend advises me, as we sit in our local park. “Also – have you bought water-wings?”

Summer is upon us and our gang of four – me, husband, four-year-old daughter, two-year-old son – are going on holiday the following morning. We’re off to an all-inclusive resort in Mallorca with a lot of buffets and a children’s disco. You know, the exact sort of holiday you vowed you’d never go on when you first became parents. (My other lofty aims included my kids listening to Nina Simone songs instead of nursery rhymes. I’m not even kidding).

I feel particularly unprepared because, like a lot of people who’ve had children over the past few years, holidays haven’t been on the agenda for a while. For the past four years, we’ve been grounded by Covid lockdowns, having a second baby, moving house, and not having much money.

I tell my friend that I’ve got to pack this afternoon, and she gives me a look that is kind but makes it clear I should have started this task already. I hastily buy some water-wings from Boots on my way home.

Letting go

Illustration showing ice cream

When we reach the resort – which is lovely and pristine – my friend’s advice rings true. The only way to enjoy this is to drop all the rules we have at home. The pillars of food and sleep must come crashing down.

The kids’ diet immediately descends into beige foods and sugar only – they seek these things out at each buffet and refuse to eat anything else. So it’s sweet waffles for breakfast, chips for lunch, ice-cream for snacks, and plain pasta for dinner. They complain that their tummies hurt after a few days but ignore my explanations.

What with all the sugar and siestas, their new bedtime is 10.30pm. I sleep between them in a double-bed to stop them rolling into each other and waking each other up (which means they roll into me and wake me up). During the day, we’re constantly on the go – taking them swimming, applying suncream, refereeing squabbles, running to the buffet as they shout “more chips!”. 

I watch the THREE novels that I packed for this holiday, plus my journal for creative writing, gather dust in a corner of our hotel room. What a hopeful fool I was. 

Is this a holiday?

So, is this a holiday? And if you’re a working parent, do you ricochet between this and the office with no actual break? That thought is overwhelming. But in the end we had a really good week, albeit not a restful one. And here’s why:

Firstly, as the old saying goes, it takes a village. We were on holiday with my in-laws, who played with the kids so we could have little breaks here and there to eat dessert undisturbed or go swimming. We had a child-free beach trip one afternoon, while my mother-in-law watched the kids during their siesta. Those small things made all the difference.

Secondly, as cheesy as it sounds, it was fun seeing the kids have fun. They had a blast splashing in the pool, finding shells on the beach, being fussed over by relatives, and saying “Hola!” to everyone. My husband said taking them swimming, and seeing how much they enjoyed it, was his highlight of the trip.

When we get back home, everyone is tanned and tired. The kids eat three plates of broccoli and fall asleep at 8pm. Tomorrow, they will go to nursery and I will sit in a quiet room on my own and write this blog. Phew.


** This blog is part of a series called The Chaos Train, a record of daily life when you’re a working parent with pre-school children **

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