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Mums: how to 'enjoy' a family holiday more?

(180 Posts)
oooshlapoosh Sun 21-Feb-16 20:12:59

My post appears very cynical so I apologise for this, but I genuinely have trouble enjoying many aspects of a family holiday (on the whole). Of course, there are many elements I do enjoy, but if I'm honest, in some ways, I find them a chore.

I'm a mother of two young DCs, quite introvert and enjoy time to myself, which is difficult to achieve at the best of times, so how do I achieve this on a family holiday when you're all together constantly?

Also, by the time I've made a list, washed dryed clothes, packed the cases- I'm feeling worn out before the holiday has even begun.

Then there's the journey, the extra planned in stops, the masses of unpacking when you arrive, the lack of sleep because DCs wake several times during the night when in unfamiliar surroundings. Then the last day is spent repacking it all, trying to locate everything etc etc.

DH tries to help but we had a huge argument during our last holiday when he started loading the cases into the car before I'd had chance to finish packing them! We're always snappy by the end of the holiday because we've spent too much time around each other.

I'm relatively new to holidaying with children and really want some tips on how to cope, how to lighten the load, perhaps how to organise myself and DH better too!

Before I had DCS, I'd pack the night before and all would be fine! Now I find myself making lists a week in advance and packing for 2-3 days well into the evenings! I'm sure we're all in the same boat here, but are there ways to make it easier? Where's the fun for me?

During our last family holiday, I overheard an argument between a family and the mother walked off in a huff- she was trying to explain why the family needed to return to the accommodation earlier as there were things to do. The teenage daughter then asked her father "why does mum have to cast a shadow over our fun every time we go on holiday" the father looked to the floor and sighed, giving the impression he was thinking the same. I remember thinking: I don't want to be the one throwing shadows over family holidays, but I can see this bring the case.

Any tips to make them easier, more organised and me, less of a stressed out nag?

oooshlapoosh Sun 21-Feb-16 20:16:29

P.s currently reading 'wifework' and feeling somewhat annoyed at the imbalance of responsibilities between husband and wife. So I am aware that DH probably needs to 'do more' too.

WhatsGoingOnEh Sun 21-Feb-16 20:19:42

I have no advice, I'm afraid, but I COMPLETELY empathise with you.

I throw loooooooong holiday shadows, no doubt.

london32 Sun 21-Feb-16 20:20:03

Just plan in advance my household is very 50/50 except my 50 involves all shopping and packing and bookings .. His is the printing, transport, admin etc so he gets an easier ride smile

We had same issue, so now with 3 dc. 2-6 we only go where there's childcare. Eg centre parks, all inclusive hotels with crèche and kids club. It's not a holiday if you cannot read a book or swim or go shopping alone!

Not sure of your budget but honestly that's the only reason we go away.

KP86 Sun 21-Feb-16 20:21:19

Holidays with young children are not holidays for the parents (usually mainly Mum). The daily caring responsibilities are still there with the added stress of being somewhere unfamiliar, possibly sharing bedrooms, possibly insecure (eg. access to roads, swimming pool).

Took DS camping when he was around 20 months old. Seriously awful for me.

And I agree that for the most part, Mums end up having to do all the organising for the children. Husbands look after themselves and Mum does the rest. My DH is slowly getting better at this because I make him.

BathtimeFunkster Sun 21-Feb-16 20:23:26

My tips

1 make peace with the fact that when you have babies and/or toddlers, holidays are just a change of location. Same shit, different house.

2 the rest you get is because you are both off and can share all the jobs equally. Make use of that to get some alone time and lie ins.

3 self cater. Always. You can set things up the way you like them.

4 enjoy the fact that you can't do any big domestic jobs because your home is too far away

5 chill out, let things happen, don't aim for perfection

tribpot Sun 21-Feb-16 20:25:05

I'd query why you're going on these holidays. Wouldn't a staycation be more fun?

Pooseyfrumpture Sun 21-Feb-16 20:26:05

It's known as "same shit, different pot"

Unless you go somewhere with wall to wall childcare and constant takeaway, you are going to lower your expectations.

Mumoftwoyoungkids Sun 21-Feb-16 20:26:47

I throw money at the problem.

All inclusive with daily maid service so no shopping, deciding on meals, cooking, clearing up or cleaning.

Also every time we go away I have a list in a particular special book. I can then see exactly what we took last time - mine never changes so my packing is easy. The kids changes as they grow up but I have 3 years ago lists from Dd that I can now use for ds and at nearly 6 Dd no longer really needs any "special equipment".

I also mutter each time "itgets easier each time - this is as hard as it will ever be".

TurnOffTheTv Sun 21-Feb-16 20:26:50

Depends on the holiday really. I love going to cottage and villa holidays here and abroad but was sick to the back teeth of doing everything I did at home, but with nicer scenery. I got stroppy last year and said I wasn't doing it anymore so we went on a cruise and it was so lovely not to have to do anything.
We've been away since Monday and just got back today, I love my family dearly but I need my own space. I've been in bed since 5pm with a book and the door shut so I can decompress.
When we go self catering I plan who is cooking which night and when we are eating out. So at least I have an idea in my head which is my 'off'

bibbitybobbityyhat Sun 21-Feb-16 20:27:27

There is no rule that says you have to go on holiday if you don't enjoy it.

WipsGlitter Sun 21-Feb-16 20:30:12

We do self catering. M&S ready meals. Wine. Special bubble bath so I can have a nice bath in the evening. Good books. Open fire.
Trying to do something we all enjoy every day.

We are going away at Easter and that will be the plan.

I do think it can be very stressful for mums though.

bibbitybobbityyhat Sun 21-Feb-16 20:30:22

It probably helps if you are a glass half full person. I have very fond memories of our fortnight in caravan in Brittany when dd was 3 and ds was less than a year old and it rained quite a bit.

Diggum Sun 21-Feb-16 20:31:29

Take grandparents.

Not to dump with all the childcare obviously but it means you and DH can have a night off, then DGPs can, you have extra hands to share making lunches/dinners/trips to the playground etc.

I'd only do this with my own parents as we get on brilliantly, they volunteer themselves, they get stuck in and help, and they adore DD. And they go on plenty of their own holidays too!

SevenSeconds Sun 21-Feb-16 20:31:54

I'll never forget my first holiday after becoming a parent. I was looking forward to a relaxing break - what a disappointment! DS slept really badly and as Bathtime says 'same shit, different house'.

I think partly it's about accepting that holidays are, for the next few years, more about fun family time, not about having a rest.

Also agree about making sure DH does his bit. I pack for the DC and I don't mind doing that, but when we're there DH pulls his weight.

oooshlapoosh Sun 21-Feb-16 20:32:10

I do enjoy elements of being on holiday, like onw poster pointed out... there's no huge domestic jobs to do, because you're not in your own home, so atleast find this a big bonus as I'd never relax in my own home. I'd be thinking about everything I 'need' to do! So there's that atleast.

Some good tips so far! Like the idea of keeping the list for future holidays... great idea!!

superking Sun 21-Feb-16 20:32:32

As a fellow introvert mother to small children I agree that childcare is the way to go. Last summer we went away and put DS, then 2, in crèche (which he loved) from 2.30-5.30 every day. It worked perfectly for us as a family - we had mornings to play altogether and then DH and I had a few hours each day to enjoy some adult time sunbathing, reading, and just chilling out before picking up DS and getting ready for dinner.

Some will say that it can't possibly be a family holiday unless you all spend every waking moment together but I completely disagree. It should be a holiday for everyone, and if you need a bit of time alone to relax then there's nothing wrong with that.

If childcare isn't an option then maybe agree with your DH that you will each have an hour or so to yourselves each day whilst the other is in charge of the children?

Afraid I don't have much advice to offer on the organisational aspects of the trip though!

sadsister4 Sun 21-Feb-16 20:32:49

Having young kids wrecks holidays. Fact.

No getting away from it, I'm afraid.

My ex-dh used to insist on self-catering. I remember sitting on a packed ring road in the pissing rain trying to get into a Sainsbury's in Devon to do a week's shopping.

I remember thinking, "I'm on my fucking holidays. Never again."

It gets better as they get older.

Toffeelatteplease Sun 21-Feb-16 20:33:50

Make sure it is a holiday you enjoy. If you need time to yourself on a holiday make sure you get that time. Work out what makes a holiday not a holiday and try and remove some of those elements (whether that is driving cooking etc)

For me I'm often packed months in advance. If I buy the kids new tshirts pants socks etc they go into the suitcase. I tick things off lists as I go so there is less to do the week before the holiday.

I use packing cubes, so unpacking just involves slinging the cubes into a drawer (or kids slinging them in drawers). That means anything not worn is still in the cubes and easy to repack at the end of the holiday. Anything worn goes in a wash bag which goes straight into the suitcase makes doing the washing easier at the end of the holiday.

museumum Sun 21-Feb-16 20:35:38

It sounds like you don't really enjoy your dh's company? I don't think any work-saving tips can change that.
I'm also not sure how you can get more time to yourself at home than on holiday? Do you work?
Family holidays should be about having both parents around and halving the workload. I find everything easier with another pair of hands around.
We're away skiing next week and I'm worried about whether the kids will like their childcare, will eat, will sleep... But even if they don't it'll all be a lot more fun than another wet week at home.

ReturnoftheWhack Sun 21-Feb-16 20:39:40

A friend of mine says "holidays with young children are exactly the same as being at home, except you have to go swimming every day."

Whathaveilost Sun 21-Feb-16 20:45:10

I love family holidays and really miss them now we don't do away as much.
First of all I picked the destination. So straight away I'm looking forward to it. I plan my itinerary and look at great things for us to do. When they were young I would pick self catering with loads of activities on site and near by includibg kids clubs. Choldren often likw to try new things and make new friends. We would have easy breakfasts and have evening meals out.
As a family we have similar interests ie snowboarding, mountain biking, mountain walking etc. So that makes things easier once they got to around 6 years old.

With regard to packing I write everyone's name on a sheet of paper and write what they need. Eg. Me 10 pairs of knicks,, nightie, walking boots. Etc. I would only tick them off once packed. For certain.

To be honest nor everything always got unpacked straight away. It doesn't matter. The most important thing was to relax and have a great time.
Tips. Take loafs and loads of happy photos, try new things and I promise you,, you and the kids will be talking about it for years to come. Be adventurous in where you go, try back packing. Ds1 wad 4 first time he went and he just had pj's and a teddy in his rucksack!

I still have family holidays bit now the lads bring there girlfriends!

thegiddylimit Sun 21-Feb-16 20:57:14

Short breaks are more work than longer ones. We visit my Mum so advantages of nice child friendly accommodation, she does lots of cooking for us and washing clothes isn't as much a chore for me in her house as it would be in self catering accommodation (even though I do her washing as well) or in a hotel (when you end up taking lots home with you). On the other hand it's not as relaxing as a holiday just being ourselves would be. TBH Christmas is my favourite holiday because we don't travel, it's just the 5 of us at home for 2 weeks with no expectation to do things and it's lovely.

DH and I ALWAYS argue on the day we leave, but before children we always argued in Heathrow baggage reclamation so just a slight change of time and location then! He doesn't do packing when we go away together which drives me insane (discussion is always 'could you look your stuff' 'yeah, sure'. SEVERAL hours later 'why the fuck have you not given yourself more than 3 pairs of pants for a 2 week holiday, no shoes, no toothbrush or razor but packed 7 woollen jumpers? Do it properly now because you are stressing me out.' The annoying thing is when he take the kids to see his parents at half term he magically is capable of packing so it's just fuckwittage). The DDs (8&6) are now old enough to do some of their own packing which helps a lot.

bibbitybobbityyhat Sun 21-Feb-16 21:00:01

Having children only "wrecks" your holidays in the same way that it "wrecks" everything else in your life.

Believe me, when your eldest child reaches the age of 15 and it suddenly hits you that you have very few family holidays left to share together, then you will look back on the wrecked holidays with a nostalgic eye.

sadsister4 Sun 21-Feb-16 21:00:54

Nope, nowt else was wrecked.

Just holidays grin

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