We have just had the best family holiday ever.
We booked nothing.
We went nowhere.
There were no dawn flights to catch.
No hissed threats over early bird restaurant dinners.
Public humiliation didn’t happen.
The house was not ‘staycation’ steam rolled, like it was for the rest of the summer.
By the end of our non event, the kids were happier than normal.
Our adult faces looked less haggard.
We ended up rested and feeling ready to face the roller coaster again.
I’d say we were all better versions of ourselves by the end of it.
How? I hear you ask.
How did we attain the holy grail of holidayness, without our holibob it turning into a helliday?
I’ll tell you the story……
The husband took a week off work in August, but something made us hesitate in actually booking a holiday. We did plenty of online Pinterplotting and airbnb dreaming. We traded ideas and narrowed down to place, hotel and dates. But we did still not actually make any sort of reservation.
What made us hesitate like this?
Because let’s face it, now we are parents, we never really go on holiday, we just take the kids to another place. But then they have none of their safe spaces, toys, routines or the essential security that prevents them from tipping over the edge, like the ticking time bombs they actually are.
Holidays with our kids are exhausting.
Our parenting style is survivalist at the best of times. So by the time I get on the actual holiday I’m already running on empty. Outside of the family home, this becomes increasingly obvious to the rest of the world. We turn into a spectator sport at breakfast for other smugfamilies.
Also, we finally have learnt the golden rule of family holidays.
As soon as those credit card details are input, SOMEONE in the family must immediately become ill. There will be no symptoms leading up to the hotel payment. Everyone will be in tip-top-shape. When that confirmation email hits our inbox, it’s like a teeny tiny fever timer goes off and ‘PING’, one of us goes down.
It’s the RULE.
Quite literally, every fecking time we go on holiday, someone is sick. One of us will either start looking peaky the day of departure, the day we arrive or the night before we are due to go.
There have been cancelled plans and flights not taken.
Friends postponed and fun rainchecked.
Then was the time we arrived and the toddler immediately had chicken pox, that was a fun 10 days. In quarantine. In my parent’s house.
There was the time I got such a high fever in Italy that I hallucinated for part of the trip.
There was that other time I got so sick in Mexico I wasn’t able to walk.
There was the Christmas the husband got so very ill and attached to a blanket, that he would not put down, so we renamed him “Blankytramp”.
This time we finally learnt from history and decided to be last minute.
Like so last minute we’d be ‘right now’.
We decided not to book anywhere until the morning of departure.
Once we’d cleaned up.
And then not until we’d taken everyone’s temperatures.
When the neighbours asked us about our vakantie plans, we smiled and said,
“Oh yes! We are going away tomorrow. No. we don’t know where yet.”
And then grinned widely, without blinking, so they’d be convinced of our mental health.
The night before we were due to go on our unbooked and unplanned holiday, the 5 year old got an alarmingly high temperature.
I didn’t panic. This is the Netherlands.
The doctors don’t do anything for at least a good 5 days of high fever. And then it is monitor and wait. Antibiotics are for when you are actually dying. I approve of this system. The body just has to be given time and rest. Even if that means that from November to March I do nothing but nurse kids for weeks on end, on a biweekly rotation.
Anyway the fever was high. He felt like shit. But he was being kept very comfortable by our well practiced and expert abilities in the, ‘tending to a feverish child’ technique.
The morning of the holiday we went nowhere.
It wasn’t a big deal.
We hadn’t even packed, because of agreed knowledge of, ‘THE RULE’.
The kids accepted that there would be no hotel – buffet – breakfast – complete – with – pink – donuts – and – a – swimming – pool. They have a curious respect for illness once the thermometer has made an appearance, a doctor has been called and medicine administered.
Disappointment levels were astoundingly low.
We were all surprisingly accepting of the turn of events.
There were 2 adults and 2 kids. A good, solid 1:1 ratio.
We tag teamed it and devised a plan to divide and conquer.
One would take nursing duties, while the other one entertained the toddler.
We took it in turns to lie in every day.
Read stuff over breakfast.
And I got to use the loo, without someone wanting to ask me a complicated question or demanding to sit on my lap.
At one point I even did a face pack.
The 5 year old decided that he’d like a bed made up on the sofa, and that’s where he presided for the duration of the illness. He’s nice with a fever – calm, lucid and kind of easy going. He napped a lot and watched a whole new, previously unattainable, quantity of telly. He had a parent waiting on him hand and foot, and non-stop cuddles. He was content in his feverish little, hot-cheeked self. It was a non contagious, non messy type of illness. If you have to get sick, the very best really. The parent that was on nursing duty got to do an awful lot of lolling around, doing nothing. It was enforced rest. We weren’t aware of how much we needed it, until it was compulsory.
The 3 year old was way too keen on actually getting involved in the nursing of her brother, and applying plasters all over his personage. So she was taken out by the other parent.
She was very happy with the solo situation.
It was 30 degrees outside and summer was in full flow.
There were lakes to be swum in.
Sandcastles to be built.
Shady forests to be explored.
She got shit loads of undivided attention.
Under this benevolent adoration she flourished and thrived.
And her tantrums dialed down a notch.
Housework was nominal because no one was actually doing much in the house. We’d occasionally do a random load of laundry or put something in the dishwasher, but that was about it.
There was none of the usual, ‘trapped at home with a sick kid FOMO’, feeling because you knew your shift as nurse would be a few hours long, followed by an active, outside, summer adventure with an enthusiastic tot….
And then just as you were knackered from all the bike-riding, ice-cream eating, sandcastles and swimming, you got to hand her over to someone who was up for more…cause she’s actually an endurance athlete in training and never tired… And then you could sit down on the couch, next to Mr throat infection, and rest your tired out parent bod.
At the end of the week, he was well enough to partake in some light summer activities. And he was back to full health the following week.
On the Sunday evening the husband and I looked refreshed.
The kids were in great form.
And there was no holiday come down clean up.
It was the best holiday ever.
Half term will see us non-scheduling a mini break.
For winter we are going to not plan a ski holiday.
Followed by a spring non-break.
I am working for a family of four while they are on holidays, traveling abroad with them in rather posh locales around the UK. I raised two of my own years ago, so I know what it’s like to go on holidays with kids. These two boys are super active, bouncing off the walls, no matter how many kilometers they walk, no matter how much excitement they experience. The mom just couldn’t face it on her own; hence, my position! And at the moment, I am in the bathroom of a swanky 5-star hotel, waiting while they doze off. I can still hear them muttering away! I think I’ll call room service for another glass of wine! Happy September!
The Mum is very lucky to have you!
Hey. I also have a small child. I know exactly how troublesome it is to visit with a small child.
Sorry for my English. I Train by reading and writing: D
It’s just not a holiday, is it?! More like an endurance boot camp 😂
☀️ It’s not really a ‘holiday’ with kids, is it?!!