As our trip to Center Parcs concludes, I’m lying in bed with Aine, reflecting on holidays with kids.
In a sneaky hour at the cocktail bar, my bestie and I were remembering the sunshine holidays we had before kids. The anticipation and excitement, not the prepacking stress; the airport experience, not the grotty motorway services; the dinner out each night, the many cocktails, swimming in the sea, siestas, you get me. It all changes when children come along.
As a family, we have tried to holiday abroad. We had one successful holiday to Menorca. Aine was about three. Her seizures were stable, her behaviour relatively good, and her overall health good. That was a really good holiday. We’ve had three trips to France. One was marred by a three night stay in hospital with talks of lumbar punctures!! The other two were a success. Then we had a failed attempt at a family holiday in Portugal. A massive seizure on the day we were supposed to fly put a stop to that and that was the time we said ‘we will holiday in England from now on’, despite the guilt I feel for depriving the children of foreign holidays and the deep jealousy I feel when I see my friends Mediterranean pictures. However, I remind myself that in GB we have a beautiful coast, lush countryside, we speak the language, we have the NHS and Costa, all massive draws that might just outweigh the inconsistent climate.
At the moment we are at Center Parcs. This is truly one of the best places in the UK you can visit, in my humble opinion, for a mixed age family. It’s not a cheap holiday, but neither is a caravan at the big chain sites. But it has everything. We have swam in an amazing swim centre with heated outdoor pools, slides, rapids, wave pools and much more. The little ones have been on a nature trail, climbing experience, go carts, pedalos and fake beaches. There are arcades, bowling alleys, nearly every sport you can imagine. Me and my bestie went to the spa and on a lovely relaxation session. We’ve had cocktails and Starbucks and burger and pizzas. And Aine has thrown so much sand into the lake we watched the water levels rise before our eyes. There really is so much to do. You needn’t ever be bored. But for grown ups, wherever you go, it’s stressful, right. You’re trying to ensure your kids have the best time, they’re not bored, the rules are slackened just enough to pull it back when you get home. You try to keep the peace when things get testy, you still have to feed and look after them, it’s not really a holiday for grown ups when you have kids. It’s all about them.
And we had a little visit from the evil E. He popped up earlier and we shot him down with a preloaded syringe of buccolam. He soon skulked off to his hidey hole. And me and Aine got to chill in bed for a while whilst the rest of the group got to carry on. No lumbar punctures, no pompiers, in fact very little disruption to the proceedings.
So holidays are stressful for grown ups, it costs an arm and a leg and it generally rains, at least once, but it’s making memories. Ones that will be there forever. Even in the little ones’ mind.
Now for the washing …..