Holidaying with kids is not for the faint-hearted; it can jeopardise the stability of your marriage, finances and general well being. However, as mothers, we live in hope and have learnt to manage our expectations somewhat. I have recently returned from a few days in Galway and I will impart some of my wisdom in surviving a holiday with three young boys.
As a disclaimer this wisdom is in no way meant to be helpful, it certainly didn’t help me.
1. Do your research! I Google ‘family friendly hotels in Ireland’ for weeks and then disregard the top five suggestions when it turns out they cost the same as a week in Florida. My criteria is a pool and a kids club… and that club had better take four year old’s with a penchant for swearing.
2. Shop: Having booked a hotel, a trip to Penneys is called for. I bought the boys a tonne a clothes they didn’t need, and I caved and bought some size 14 jeans for myself so I could actually breathe. They looked lovely in the dressing room but when I wore them in Galway they grew and grew and not where I needed it but below the knees and I felt like a middle-aged American tourist in ‘mom jeans’.
3. Be prepared: I pack for the car journey with military precision as I know this will possibly be my greatest challenge. I have a seven seater just so I can separate the kids to minimise fighting. I make up a backpack each with snacks, fully-charged tablets with downloaded movies, colouring books, actual books etc. Everything has to be equally doled out or there will be blood. Two of mine were eating apples and Conall piped up (from the boot) ‘Where’s my food? There’s nothing in my bag except spark plugs!’ ‘They’re jump leads honey and that’s not your bag.’
4. Manage room disappointment: When you get to your hotel room and realise that a family room is merely a regular room that has all the available space filled with camp beds, try not to be too downhearted and instead concentrate on how to unpack clothes for five into two drawers and onto two hangers. As you complete this Tetris-like puzzle try to ignore your husband’s roaming hands and suggestions of nocturnal activity and if he continues, gesticulate wildly at the sleeping arrangements and send him on a useful errand like getting wine from the bar.
5. Wi-Fi: Try not to scream every time the word(s?) Wi-Fi is used in a sentence and beg everyone to have a technology-free holiday where laughs and good times are shared (maybe even produce a pack of cards). After five minutes beg a passing waiter for the code to stop the constant bickering and assholery of everyone.
6. Don’t compare: I have vivid memories of watching The Late Late Toy show as a kid and my Mam berating me and my sister for being talentless and why couldn’t we be like those lovely girls with the ringlets bounding about the stage making their Mammies proud? I hate myself as I point out angelic looking kids sitting beside their parents in the restaurant and eating like actual fucking humans while mine try to eat a burger with no hands.
7. Don’t depend too much on the kid’s club: We managed to persuade the three of them to go to a movie night and we literally ran to our room for some alone time. I’d barely gotten one ankle out of my mom jeans when my phone rang and I was told that Rian was a bit upset and would I come get him. It turned out that he just wanted to pee, which he did… right on our parade.
8. Swimming pools are not fun: This proved a torturous part of the day where my husband and I developed a kind of sign language from across the pool to establish the location of all three at all times. I had to stand by and hold goggles and armbands while praising every effort each one made while freezing and being hyper aware of all the body fluids the pool probably contained. I did manage to sneak off into the steam room a few times and relax while I heard ‘MAMMMMMM’ from outside the door.
9. Laundry stress: I always have a growing sense of panic as the washing pile grows and I think about using the hotel’s laundry service till I see their rates.. 50c for a pair of knickers! €2.50 for trousers! I start washing stuff out in the sink and draping it on radiators. When I’m away, it’s my washing machine and dryer that I miss more than anything else and typing that sentence makes me immeasurably sad.
10. You will turn into your parents: It should be a drinking game that when you use a phrase your parents used on holidays when you were a kid, you take a shot (although possibly not a good idea seeing as most of these occurrences happen when driving). Examples are: ‘I’m turning the car around (fun fact… my Dad actually did this coincidentally in Galway) and ‘When I was your age..we didn’t have technology.. We had to sit in the bar with a bottle of TK red and a packet of Tayto and listen to the crappy trad band… and look happy about it!’
If anyone has any advice on enduring a holiday with kids, please feel free to share it, preferably in a non-smug fashion. One thing I have learnt is that I will be investing in wireless headphones for next year as I saw some kids actually let their parents relax as they watched some moron on Youtube. Oh and ‘accidentally’ give the kid’s club the wrong number.