The fun of a family holiday

Back from the first family adventure overseas, Alex Molton reflects on how much can change in only one year.



Having finally got to the end of that long post-Easter term, we packed up the house, bedding, towels and the dog and drove (seemingly for days, as I was stuck in the back due to son’s travel sickness) waving au revoir to England for the half-term break.

With five of us a family holiday is a) expensive and b) a bit of a palaver. It also seems to involve taking almost the entire contents of the house with us (to be fair we weren’t really sure what to expect so packed for all weathers). Having left home only an hour later than planned (pretty good for us) we trekked up the motorway to drop the dog off with the MiL and sped on to the Eurotunnel, filled with excitement (and sweets). Amazingly for a BH weekend we managed to get all of the way to France, even to the campsite, without any traffic hold-ups or getting lost. Result!

What’s for dinner?

However, it was only on the way across the Channel that it occurred to me that we’d need to buy food for dinner on arrival. With a severe lack of corner shops en route or anywhere near our campsite open when we got to the caravan, we were forced to try and order kebabs and chips with, it turns out, pretty terrible French. Amazingly, I even managed to get a vegan burger (although it did come with cheese, which isn’t very vegan).

Overall, though, despite the accommodation being smaller than expected, with Son#1 sleeping in the sitting room, so no space for adults to relax after bedtime, some iffy weather and an unbelieveable amount of bickering between the kids (how can they keep it going for a whole week?!) we did have a nice time. Family fun on the beach, running around the sand dunes, playing football, shouting through a LOT of games of Uno No Mercy, even a bit of poker. Until day three we didn’t realise we could link our Netflix account to the TV and although the boys had their phones, with no data there was no You Tube or endless messaging with friends. It was lovely to disconnect for a few days and enjoy each other’s company.

The best family holiday

This time last year we had just returned from our first trip to another country – Wales – and the best family holiday we have ever had (unless you ask Son#1 who it turns out, is really not a fan of hiking up mountains). It would have been a hard holiday to beat, but I was struck by how different everyone was on holiday this year. With Son#1 now bigger than his dad and the other two not far behind, it gave me a bit of an insight into future family holidays and a glimpse of how the future might look with grown-up children. Bigger children are able to help with cleaning, carrying bags, sorting out the dog and even ordering food for each other (though it was a bit scary in another language). Somehow in the chaos of every day family life I’d not noticed quite how big and capable they all are these days and that they are all very much no longer ‘little’.

Changing children

It was quite a revelation and gave me a bit of a shock to be honest. Of course, you see they are growing (as the amount of cereal and fruit we purchase attests), but it’s not always so obvious how much they are developing intellectually, emotionally and personally. I have always tried to soak up the children at all stages and cling on to many, many items from their childhood (despite hubs’ attempts to chuck it all out every time we move house) to remember happy times and all of the different phases. But I am not always very good at looking to the future and imagining how things will be different.

This holiday gave me a bit of a wake-up call. The kids are growing up, time with them is precious and they won’t be at home forever. However, on the plus side, there is now more time for me if I choose to take it. I no longer need to entertain, provide snacks and police the area for dangers. And having seen how well they all do at washing-up (my most hated of all of the household chores), I’m certainly going to get them helping out more around the house now we are home!

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