Ahhh, holiday season. The time of year when you get to relax, recharge and spend quality time with your family. OK, so it takes a week of preparation to gather the sun cream, travelling activities backpack and a first aid kit fit for a trip to the International Space Station. And on your return it will be another week before you can see over the washing pile. But surely the moment you get on the plane, it will all be worth it. Won’t it?
1) Your baby is less than six months: the idea of travelling abroad seems impossible. Your baby reaches ten months; you realise that travel before the age of routines, weaning and mobility would have been a doddle.
2) You leave plenty to time to get to the gate because you know from experience that traversing an airport with children takes longer than is humanly possible. You sit at the gate for 20 minutes with increasingly bored children. The plane begins to board. Your child announces they need a poo. Now.
3) You’re on the plane. Your little one is screaming and desperately needs to sleep. You walk up and down the plane. A lot. (This is only partly due to your desire to rock your baby to sleep. You actually want to avoid eye contact with everyone sitting near you.) Baby finally begins to quieten. He starts to drop off. The loudest announcement in history cheerily informs you that the duty free will be coming around shortly. You actually hear a collective gasp of horror. Half the passengers give you a look of utter sympathy; the other half stare at you like you’re Donald Trump at a feminist convention. Your child wakes with such a shock that the noise level trebles.
4) When you’re in the Mediterranean restaurant at 9pm, the local children are sitting nicely at the table. At the appropriate time, they get in their pushchair with a cloth over the hood, and go to sleep. The adults continue their conversation. Your toddler has to be strapped into a highchair to stop her running riot. She eventually gets so grumpy that you give up trying to distract her with food and put her in the pushchair. You spend the next 30 minutes manoeuvring the pushchair between tables in a desperate bid to induce sleep. Your toddler uses the cloth over the hood to play peek-a-boo. The nearest thing to an adult conversation you can muster is “I’m shattered. Shall we go back?”
5) You settle down with a good book for a day on the beach. Your child develops a phobia of waves. He cries because the sand is sticking to his sun cream. He’s too hot. He’s hungry because he refused to eat his sandwiches (because he got sand in them). By 2pm you give up. You’ve reached page 7. Your child refuses to go to the beach again for the rest of the holiday.
6) You get home to a wet and dreary British summer. Your child announces they had the best holiday ever, and can they go to the seaside today?
7) Holiday food goes one of two ways. (1) Your child will eat every crab, calamari and olive in sight, before coming home and returning to a strict diet of fish fingers and spaghetti bolognaise. (2) Your child will eat chips every day. Twice.
8) No matter how late you go to bed, your toddler will be awake by 5am…
9)...except on the last day. Then, she will sleep until 9am. Which means that when you get home, you spend a week waking a tired, irritable toddler in order to get everyone to work/school/nursery on time.
10) You settle down for the three hour plane journey home by opening up the iPlayer app - and realise the CBeebies programmes you downloaded expired after seven days. Today is Day Eight.
11) For six days after returning home you swear you're never travelling with children again. After six weeks you fondly remember the look on your child's face when he saw his first plane, or built an awesome sandcastle with Daddy. After six years’ you look back nostalgically at the memories you made.