to have not enjoyed this family holiday? am i completely selfish and just an AWFUL parent?

(279 Posts)
dirtyface Wed 10-Jul-13 09:58:39

went away last week with dh and our 2 dcs aged 4 and 7

its the first time we have been away as a whole family (for various reasons) and i was really looking forward to it. but mostly it was hard work and pretty shit.

the kids are usually pretty good at home. but on holiday, they played up, fought, acted spoilt, constantly demanded things, moaned that things were "boring" , pissed about at bedtime till all hours as they were so excited, woke us up early every morning, we barely got 2 minutes together. and managed one shag the whole time so i was grumpy and irritable, as was DH. and we absolutely haemorraged money on god knows what so both of us were a bit stressed cos of that.

and most things we did were pretty boring for us as they were child focused. so i was EXHAUSTED and miserable by the time we got home and had never been so glad to be home from a holiday in all my life

is this what its like? i bet we spent two grand all in (that includes paying for the actual holiday itself). and for what?

the kids had a good time at least i might add!

sorry if i sound a massive ungrateful so and so - am prepared to be told i am blush

NoComet Wed 10-Jul-13 10:49:52

lounging around drinking sangria is quite possible, you wear your DCs out in the pool in the morning and have a wuiet picnic lunch on your balcony. Real littlies sleep, mine would chat and play cards, ipod games or cards for a bit and then back to the pool or the beach.

Clearly Sangria can also be sipped on the balcony while DCs sleep.

Picnic lunches, with off licence sangri, san miguel and 2 litre bottles of coke, juice and 5 litre bottles of water are also way way cheaper than a grotty pizza in a cafe.

HandMini Wed 10-Jul-13 10:51:09

This is excellent holiday advice : Never be in a rush in the morning. Don't worry about being back for bedtime.

Chopstheduck Wed 10-Jul-13 10:51:26

"They wanted to come as they wanted to play with the kids'

We got lured into that one once, went to Florida with the inlaws. They were sick of them before the flight was even over! Managed one day out with us to a theme park, and one evening where they had them for a few hours. Their idea of the holiday was to go round the shopping outlets and spend absurd amounts on clothing for the kids! Not the kids idea of a holiday at all unfortunately.

DeWe Wed 10-Jul-13 10:52:49

We've found the best beaches when you h\ve children have a sea wall you can sit on with your stuff and it doens't get so sandy.

Chopstheduck Wed 10-Jul-13 10:53:20

In Spain we loved to get those rotisserie chickens from marketplaces, a couple of french stick and pack a sharp knife, butter and chopping board. Picnics for lunches from the markets are much better than trying to get them to sit still and wait for food.

Cherriesarelovely Wed 10-Jul-13 10:53:37

I can remember that holidays were tricky and exhausting when Dd was little and wouldn't sleep well...ugh, really grim! As she has grown older the most tricky part has been making sure that she has other children to play with. Once we have sorted that it is great!

I so sympathise though Op we have had a few holidays where it was a bloody relief to come home! Still glad of the change of scene though!

MoominMammasHandbag Wed 10-Jul-13 10:55:10

Family holidays are hard work it's true. But the big payoff is when they're 18 and say that they always loved family holidays when they were a kid, more than Christmas or birthdays or anything smile

LifeofPo Wed 10-Jul-13 10:57:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ENormaSnob Wed 10-Jul-13 10:57:23

Im with pictish.

I love holidays, yeah its not always easy or relaxing but the good aspects always outweigh the negatives imo.

insanityscratching Wed 10-Jul-13 10:58:09

I don't think holidays are relaxing with children tbh sometimes it seems like hard work. Our youngest is 10 now and they have been much easier for the last few years.
Things that work here is accepting that dc will have late nights and hopefully late mornings.
Being prepared to divide and rule so dh and I often do an activity with one or two of them whilst the other does something different with the others.
Eat simple foods in or cheaply out and give each other the chance of an afternoon off by having all dc to yourself a couple of times.
Give the children weekly or daily spending money and tell them when it's gone it's gone and take tablets, ipods, etc to get quiet travelling and quiet waiting to be served in restaurants.
YANBU to have found it stressful YWBU if you didn't learn from it and put in strategies to manage it better next time.

curryeater Wed 10-Jul-13 10:58:20

I feel your pain.

Some suggestions:

1. My sister likes booking big houses and going with other family members (our parents, a cousin we are close to and her family), erm, me, on the basis that adults rotate things like early-rising duty. She is an extravert though and though I love her dearly I am not sure in my own mind whether, selfishly, it is a net gain for me with her shouting her head off and being hearty all the time. So far it has been moot as it has only come up when I have been bfing so always on duty anyway. However, with older children there is also the benefit that, ideally, they just sort of meld into a unified feral pack and you get a lot less whining as they are busy being their own weird little tribe.
Do you have anyone you would like to do this with?

2. Camping. Counter-intuitive, but it works for some. Advantages:
- we go with friends so you get the child-meld advantage
- your low expectations of creature comforts mean that your crushing disappointment is lessened
- your dp, if you have one, is more likely to be aware of and tuned into the idea of Camping involving Chores so you don't get that up-to-the-elbows-in-washing-up-while-everyone-else-on-the-patio thing
- cheap (again, this is in favour with respect to the crushing disappointment factor)
Obviously, there are disadvantages to camping, I do not need to list these.

3. Throw crazy amounts of money at the problem and go Mark Warner. I have not done this and cannot imagine being able to afford it, but if I could and if my children liked it, I would consider doing this once every few years as far preferable to an attempt at an annual conventional "holiday" without backup. (totally theoretical for me)

4. Do whatever you have to do with the children, do not expect to enjoy it, and get childcare for a completely separate dirty weekend with your dp. Even if you stay in a Premier Inn or a tent, try to get away as a couple just so you can have as many cups of tea as you want and don't have someone jumping on the bed while you are trying to drink them. Just for one lovely late lazy morning.

nosila12 Wed 10-Jul-13 10:58:47

Go with friends! You barely see the dc then - they go off and play. And you can babysit for each other in the evenings.

Dysgu Wed 10-Jul-13 10:59:28

I also love our family holidays - we had 3 last year! We have 3DC (DDs are 6 and 4, DS is 4 months) and we are all getting very excited about our forthcoming trip to Scotland from our home on the Isle of Wight! We'll split the 10 hour journey with a couple of nights in Travelodge type places (my DDs call these hotels as that is all they know grin )

Our secret is... house swapping which we do through the NCT.

Big advantages:
-swap with families so house already set up for children so no filling the car with huge amounts of equipment, toys etc
- DC love playing with others' toys
- DC love the adventure of sleeping on others' beds
- free accommodation so more money for day trips
- picnics in park become exciting and different
- local advice provided by swap family so you know the best places and other free activities
- easy to keep DC amused in others' garden so easy lazy starts to the day
- fully equipped houses rather than holiday accom so full bath, laundry facilities, fridge freezer so self-catering is easy

We love it (DS was conceived on a house swap holiday last year blush ) and will soon be looking for possible locations for Oct half term...

Calabria Wed 10-Jul-13 10:59:40

I have resigned myself to the fact that a family holiday isn't a holiday for me. There might be more wine than usual and more ice cream and a meal out or two but basically it's like being at home but with a different view and more uncomfortable bed.

parachutesarefab Wed 10-Jul-13 11:02:11

No, you're not an awful parent. Your kids had a great holiday.

You need to abandon ideas of swanning about like a celeb, and having time for just you and DH for the next one though, or look into kids clubs and babysitters.

For us, what works is self catering, with an enclosed garden. Some toys and books from home, hopefully there'll be some new ones there that they can play with. (2 year old DD1 had hours and hours of fun with a toy watering can one year. Balloons take up no space, and are great too.) Taking some of the craft kits they've been given for birthdays, but haven't used (good for rainy days). Parks. Museums. Swimming pools. Walks and cycle rides. Adventure playgrounds (and a book). Cooking. Playing games. I'm not a fan of beaches, but the DC love them - you don't have to go for the whole day though. A couple of DVDs for when its been a long day, or they're very tired.

Think about what you enjoy doing all together, at the weekend. Plan lots of days like those. Make sure there are times when one of you and DH has all the kids, and the other can do something just for them.

And YY to holidaying with friends. Or family if you get on.

Dancergirl Wed 10-Jul-13 11:03:00

OP, I really feel for you. Although your post about the beach did make me laugh, sorry! Reminds me of that book How NOT to be a perfect family.

It WILL get easier. It was the first time you've done it and your dc are still quite small.

My tips:

If you can find somewhere with a kids club. I don't particularly like the idea of a kids club day in day out on a family holiday, but a few hours here and there can be a godsend. Plus your dc will make friends they can play with when not at the kids club.

Hotel is much more of a holiday than self-catering. I DON'T want to be emptying a dishwasher on holiday or plan or cook meals, even easy meals. Book a hotel on a B and B basis, hotel breakfasts are great for kids, you can fill up, have a smallish lunch and then eat dinner together around 6.

Don't overplan because it's stressful when things go a bit wrong. Some of our nicest moments on holidays have been spontaneous.

Hotel pool is much easier than the beach and no sand to worry about. Find somewhere with a children's pool. Make sure your dc are learning to swim, in the meantime are they confident with arm-bands?

Take a few new small toys/games. Travel games are good. Mine also love new colouring/sticker books etc.

Even if you're on holiday, pull them up on whining/moaning or any other bad behaviour.

Oh and remember it WILL get easier.

CrazyOldCatLady Wed 10-Jul-13 11:06:14

I'm looking at booking a holiday next year with our two, who'll be 4 and 2.5. I'm only considering it because we'll have two grandparents and an aunt with us!

StanleyLambchop Wed 10-Jul-13 11:08:03

When we go on holiday I tend to look up all the castles/stately homes in the area and drag the kids around those, they actually don't grumble now as they are used to it. We bribe encourage them to behave with purchases from the gift shop. We do usually do one day at a farm park/adventure playground type place so they get something child-focused too. Bedtimes do get later and you will spend loads more money, but that was the case when we went away in our child free days also. You are doing well to have managed one shag BTW! You just accept it won't be relaxing and fun all the time, I look on it as the same amount of work as being at home, but at a change of scene. And remind myself it is so the children can see different places and make some memories.

CailinDana Wed 10-Jul-13 11:08:07

We have a 2 year old and 5 month old. Last month DH took a few days off and we just stayed at home, did the normal activities like playgroup etc but just relaxed a little - got lots of takeaways/meals out, bought icecreams every day, had a few day trips to local attractions, gave each other lie-ins etc and it was lovely. DCs really enjoyed it and so did we because we had everything we needed and we didn't worry about spending money because we hadn't spent anything on travelling/accommodation. He's doing the same thing again in August and I'm really looking forward to it - all the comforts of home but just with a few treats and less stress. It's the only thing that works with small children IMO.

I didn't take my kid on a beach holiday abroad until they were about 10, at that age they were happy to go to the kids clubs and swim without me being in the pool, they made friends and had a great time, i always went all inclusive when they were that age, they could get their own drinks and ice creams. Some of the hotels where my idea of hell to be honest but as long as i got to sit in the sun and read a book for a part of the day it was nice. Before that we always got a cottage with friends who had children the same sort of ages, that way the parents could have the odd night off and the kids could be in bed at a reasonable time.

kerala Wed 10-Jul-13 11:13:54

With you on the houseswap especially with other families with kids. We had beach hol in Sardinia last year 2 weeks high season with car for £600 ie cost of flights. Also you get to properly live in the place rather than closeted in hotel or holiday villa. Our girls (6 and 4) often talk about the trip we swapping again this year to southern Italy by the sea cannot wait!

kerala Wed 10-Jul-13 11:15:34

Totally agree with callin when they are tiny no point going abroad IMO. We did our first overseas swap when they 3 and 5

curryeater Wed 10-Jul-13 11:19:21

Do you have to have a vair posh house to house swap?
Does it have to be in a trendy desirable place

2rebecca Wed 10-Jul-13 11:20:58

Another fan of Eurocamp/Canvas type holidays. The kids enjoyed the kids groups during the day and we took it in turns to go cycling/ walking explore the area. We also had some nonkids' club days when they didn't famcy the activities and we hired bikes and cycled round the area.
When the kids were babies and toddlers (above is primary school age where they can already swim and cycle) we just hired a cottage somewhere and didn't have as many holidays. Again often one of us often did something interesting whilst the other babysat and did stuff by the pool/ sea. We'd have gone mad if we both had to play with inflatables in the pool or make sand castles.

GinAndaDashOfLime Wed 10-Jul-13 11:20:58

Go with eurocamp and send them to the kids clubs when you need a day off! They love them! (My dc's same age as yours)

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