Well the summer holidays are fast approaching (All together now Waaaaaahhh!) as we are not tied to the school schedule yet we have already had our holiday in May. So thought I would share my "wisdom" and must haves.
However I feel I should mentally prepare you first. The thing to be aware of is this is NOT a holiday, nor does it remotely resemble anything you knew as a holiday. Lie ins, sunbathing, relaxing, drinking, reading and general peace are a no go.
The bright sun makes the kids get up earlier, they need slathering in sun cream every 2hrs and the task takes about an hour with uncooperative dramatic small people, the new environment means new fun ways to try and kill themselves and you have gone in search of the sun and yet you will spend all day trying to keep in the shade. The pool at first a fantastic source of entertainment becomes your worst nightmare. If they are not in danger of drowning they are constantly wanting to be wet or dry....or sometimes both! Our holiday literally was a blur of suncream wars, walking round with a buggy trying to get Oscar to sleep and the following on repeat "I'm cold, I'm wet, I'm bored, I'm hungry, I want an ice cream, can I, can I?!"
Now I know what your thinking "Lets take some relatives or friends, that will share the load" but as I say to my youngest countless times a day Ah ah ah! In my experience two things can happen:
1. You feel so guilty your little monsters are wrecking their holiday, you spend most of the time trying to keep them quiet until at least 7am, telling them off and generally trying to put them on best behaviour.
2.Your expecting your companions to help but they will happily watch the kids almost drown while they finish reading the paper. It's fair enough it's their holiday but taking on sun cream duty once or offering to entertain the kids for a couple hours wouldn't go a miss and can brew bad feeling fast. Also if they
don't have children them selves there is a big divide on how you want to spend the holiday, they don't see the harm in keeping the kids out late but you don't want to be one of those people with "buggy kids"...you know the ones, it's 11pm the parents are well merry and there is a poor bright red faced child passed out
in a buggy next to them and there is no signs of going home.
STILL a change is always as good as a rest so they say and if you are lucky to get to somewhere hot it's nice to see the sun too. Also as tempting as it is to just stay at home for the next 5-8yrs it's a great experience for the kids and luckily they don't seem to notice that your getting more wrinkles than Mick Jagger.
So here are my tips for a smoother Hollie Berries:
1. Go Tacky: I remember the days of booking a holiday solely on the fact of if there were no kids pictured in the brochure, these days, if there is a giant purple dinosaur, a pirate ship, jumbo waterside and or park I'm there the tackier the better! Seriously the more there is for the kids to do the less thereis for you to do. The next holiday we take I am so excited that Archie will be old enough to go in "Kids club" for those of you that don't already know its (usually) a free club that kids can go to for
entertaining 4hrs a day they love it and you LOVE it byeeeee kids! So book child friendly.
2. Go All Inclusive: Again I used to stay away from this type of thing preferring to discover nice little restaurants and eat differently everyday. However kids don't like tapas or taking more than 15mins to digest. It saves a lot of money as its already paid for in advance, there is no arguing over which restaurant to choose, everyone can pick something different and through the day there is no scrabbling around for the purse "I would like a drink and an ice cream" ....no problem just get one.
3. Maximum Luggage: Now while its true unless your going to Timbuktu you will be able to get things while your away in my experience, they are usually massively more expensive and who wants to spend their holiday searching for example, medicines, sun cream or nappy's? So take as much as your allowed...but not a kg over I refuse to pay those rip off charges!
4. Bring a nanny.....ha ha yeah right as if! but seriously if you have the funds bring some help, you might even finish half your book or get a tan.
What to take
I will save you on the basics, you know what to take on your holidays but here's my must haves:
- Buggy up to 5yrs I would say, even if you stay in the hotel/complex our boys go to bed around 7pm and there is a happy medium between this and "buggy kids" even walking back after a meal its easier to push them, wish we had taken one for Archie last time aged nearly 4.
- Door claws/stops this is a foam C that can be placed over the top of any door to stop fingers getting jammed and stress levels go down.
- Night light its hard to get to the loo in pitch black in a new place...also keeps monsters away.
- Sarong, couple if you have them, ideal as extra shade, towel, blanket, cover up or... sarong.
- Lightweight towels, 2 per child I cant even describe the state of our towels, after daily sun cream, ice cream and general spills.
- Medical kit: Just pack everything, the chemists are very good abroad but its so easy to just have it in your room plus naturally children get ill in the night NEVER in the day! My Top: (Child Friendly) Plasters, Calpol, Ibuprofen, Thermometer, Teething powders, Laxatives, Imodium, Anti histamine, Savlon, Bug spray, Tweezers and a cool pack ours is Nemo shape.
- Sun Cream, Depends on child age and how hot it will be but I despise the "Once" creams and the 50spf waterproof and sun proof creams. They are thicker than peanut butter, turn your child a weird green or purple hue, stain clothes, towels, make their eyes stream and without fail get a stray blob on you that leave a white patch you wont notice until tomorrow. I'm ultra sun conscious (seriously I think sunburn on kids is child abuse) but in my opinion 30-40spf are fine for kids especially with sun suits, hats and shade time. 1 bottle per child a week in hot climates.
- Huge beach bag of just a big bag for life, its amazing how much stuff you need for kids and surprisingly they don't like carrying any of it themselves!
- Sticker books, it is amazing how long one of these will keep a little one busy, planes, meal time etc.
I have been lucky enough to go abroad several times with the boys as babies and I stressed every time about what to bring and do, I have done it both ways not taking much and taking everything but the sink and in my opinion take as much as you can. A full pack of nappy's and swim nappy's easily line your case and take up less space than you would think and again you don't want to spend the first few days of your holiday trying to find the "right" nappy's or baby foods also what happens if you cant read the packaging etc. The below obviously depends what stage your baby is:
- All of the above
- Nappy's, at least a big pack or enough for whole holiday.
- Swim Nappy's
- Baby Wipes, there is no end to how many you can use.
- Bottles - even a breast fed baby might enjoy a slurp of cooled boiled water
- Steriliser, It depends on the facility's but I have done tablets and micro steriliser, the latter is by far the best tablets are really hard work all the washing, soaking, rinsing and drying you can also get a mini steriliser from Tommy Tipee for 2 bottles at a time.
- Formula, I have taken a full unopened box before and a Tupperware box with a bit extra in, why worry yourself they wont have your brand or chance your baby getting constipation etc? A few cartons are good too.
- Baby foods- Pouch's,"Ellas" are ideal, they wont smash like jars and you only need a spoon...Oscar sucks the fruity ones straight out of the spout. I took enough for two meals a day (a mixture of savoury and sweet) with a bag of their baby porridge. Its easy to get Weetabix, baby yogurts and fruit pots anywhere.
- Spoons, bibs and Sippy cups.
- Small washing up liquid, cloth, t towels and an antibacterial spray for all the washing.
- Pram sunshade I have a Kiddopotamus Rayshade which is brill, its better than a parasol as doesn't have to be adjusted with the sun and it can black out the pram for naps too.
- Hat, take a couple they get scruffy and I always lose one.
- Muslin's, so many uses including spills.
Its hard work at time's but its worth the lovely memory's and nothing beats a glass of vino in the sun... preferably when they have gone to bed. So have fun and be safe.
I have put the video on below because its so informative and think every parent should see it, I always thought kids would scream HELP if they were drowning but its the complete opposite!
I promise no ones drowns or anything like it just watch and be amazed.