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On holiday with 4yo and it’s awful - is this normal??
278

SatelliteFish · 02/08/2022 19:15

On holiday with 4yo DD and it’s awful.

She’s loving the fun bits, but if she’s not eating ice cream, swimming, bouncing on a bouncy castle etc she’s having a meltdown, mis-behaving or moaning. Won’t eat a single meal nicely, won’t go to bed nicely, won’t do anything nicely unless it’s a fun activity.

Epic (and I mean epic) meltdown today because I wouldn’t buy her a lollipop because her behaviour had been terrible. I said no and explained why & stuck to my guns. I do try to be strict and have some discipline but just feel like a failure.

It’s our first holiday abroad (Europe) due to Covid and DH and I are seriously thinking it will be our last. It’s not enjoyable. I’m looking at flights to leave early.

We’ve looked forward to this holiday for literally years, saved up etc and after this week it’s back to work / grindstone for the next year.

Is this normal? What age do holidays with kids get better??

Please no sarcastic comments. I’m sat here on my hard-earned holiday (first In four years) in tears. If you don’t have any supportive words please kindly pass by this thread.

Oh and DD doesn’t have any additional needs as far as we are aware.

She attends a very good pre-school and they speak very highly of her.

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CottonSock · 02/08/2022 19:36

Could she be poorly or something?

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User48751490 · 02/08/2022 19:36

onmywayamarillo · 02/08/2022 19:33

Mine are a lot older now , worst holiday I ever had is when the youngest was 4

Awful awful awful

Turned out that he somehow thought this was out new home, and we'd live there forever! 🤣

I showed him photos of home and told him we'd be back soon only a few more days, he totally chilled after that 🤷🏼‍♀️

Haha, we got that too from our 4yo and 6yo this year. They actually thought the holiday apartment was our new house 😂😂

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BertieBotts · 02/08/2022 19:36

So normal. They are creatures of routine at that age and any deviation of it means stress. Then add all the new stuff she's experiencing and it's like sensory and information overload and she's just in exhausted stressed out mode all the time.

Naps, even though she probably doesn't nap any more will help. Do you have a car or buggy? Could you hire a buggy or buy a cheap umbrella stroller so she can have a rest? And alternate between high excitement fun activities and just chill out iPad time or whatever.

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skgnome · 02/08/2022 19:36

At 4 is probably the bad combi you over tired and overstimulated
you say it’s your first holiday in 4 years, which means is her first holiday and your first as a family
remember, kids like routine and know what’s happening, especially in a new place, for her you’re suddenly taking her to a new place full of excitement and at the same time expecting her to behave properly- see the contradiction?
you need to lower your expectations on what a holiday with a kid is like, we spent days in new cities just visiting local parks, waste of money really, she would have been equally happy in the local park…
it get easier really quick, by 6/7 you can even do city breaks
bribery is your friend, and set expectations at the start of the day - ie, we can go to the park after you have breakfast - no breakfast no park, same you’ll do at home
done expect her to go to sleep at her normal time, give her a bit extra time if she’s buzzing, but equally keep an eye not to over tire her/over stimulate her

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YellowHpok · 02/08/2022 19:38

4 is peak nightmare age IME. Big enough to understand boundaries are being flexed, too small to navigate that with any sense!

Mine are better with a bit of structure on holiday. Out in the morning, chill over lunch/siesta, something fun later after noon when it's cooler. Pottering about also good. They are so little and easily overwhelmed.

Less is more in my experience.

It gets better!

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Alwayswonderedwhy · 02/08/2022 19:38

Its just over excitement. I remember going away when my son was 4 and spent the first few days waning to come home. Its exhausting.
Hope she settles down a bit for you.

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pylonpal · 02/08/2022 19:39

We holiday in Uk. We keep it simple. Only one trip per day and relax at holiday cottage once that is over ( always get one with outside space). I never ate out with my kids at that age as I knew they could not sit still well enough for that length of time, so didn’t want to give myself the stress of forcing it. Kept to normal bed time. Just keep it simple and relaxed.

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NoSquirrels · 02/08/2022 19:43

Divide and conquer, OP. One of you takes her out, then swap in the afternoon. Let go of your ‘family fun’ expectations, and just settle into it. Fwiw, my DH always struggled with first 2 days of a holiday when our kids were young as he couldn’t let go of the ‘holiday = relaxation” expectation, and with small kids it’s more of “same shit, different place”, tbh.

Drop your expectations. Divide and conquer. Go low key. Don’t fight about food.

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turquoise1988 · 02/08/2022 19:45

I'm not sure how helpful "well, we holiday in the UK" comments are right now seeing as the OP is...you know...abroad.

As I and other posters have suggested, just make a plan to get through (and try and enjoy!) the rest of your holiday as best as you can.

Then review future holiday plans/expectations when you're back home.

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Franca123 · 02/08/2022 19:46

I'd second down time. We don't get to do much on holidays as the kids are overstimiluated by just being somewhere new. We'd usually do an activity of sorts in the morning which might just he popping to buy some food for lunch. The back for naps. The afternoon often nothing or park / beach. They'd still be totally exhausted and have to go to bed early.

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Goldbar · 02/08/2022 19:46

We went away earlier this year and what worked for us was letting DC stay up late (this wouldn't work for all children , but our DC is quite flexible and stayed up until midnight then slept until 10/11 the next morning), not stressing about food (everything tasted slightly different so DC really only ate chips, sweetcorn, ice cream and pizza for the whole week and wouldn't touch anything else, even the milk) and doing 'divide and conquer' - I'd take DC swimming in the morning, DH would take DC to do other activities after lunch. Also, a decent chunk of downtime in our air-conditioned hotel room in the afternoon before dinner, just chilling and watching stuff on the tablet.

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WhippedSoap · 02/08/2022 19:47

She sounds over-tired and overwhelmed! None of you are doing anything wrong and DD's behaving as well as she can.

As an adult I sometimes find holidays a lot. Everyone is tired from travel and out of routine and under lots of pressure to have The Best Time Ever on my long awaited holiday!

I would try and work in as much of your routine from home as possible (bath, story, bed & an early night!).

Then have a chilled day with minimal 'big fun' activities.

For whatever reason she is finding this holiday hard, you just have to meet her where she is.

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HellsBellsK · 02/08/2022 19:52

I'm on holiday now with my nearly 5 year old and going through the same. His 3 year old sister is doing amazing.
He's had me in tears the last 3 days, if anything bangs off him he cries and cries. He is hitting his sister, screaming, I could go on.
He has also been here before as it's my parents apartment so more a home away from home.
Like you he was in Montessori and they couldn't say enough good things about him. I just get a different child when I'm home with him.
Sorry I am no help but I totally get it Flowers

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MarshaBradyo · 02/08/2022 19:54

Ime when they eat too much sugary stuff they can struggle

We get more difficult behaviour on party days due to this. So maybe check eating

I’m reading these posts re four being worst age thinking eep and about how to make sure we do ok

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TheyWentToSeaInASieve · 02/08/2022 19:59

I'd also try for a day time nap. You are unlikely to be getting much adult time anyway and the routine is messed up, it might work if she is better rested?

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INeedNewShoes · 02/08/2022 20:03

DD needs tons of time pottering. One of the problems with holidays is that it throws families into one small space for a week whereas at home you tend to be off doing your own thing at least some of the time.

Also kids take great comfort in routine and home as they know what it's like and what to expect. It can be a good investment to talk about what's going to happen that morning when you wake up.

I think a big part of it is the adults letting go of any idea that a holiday will be like it was pre children but also even letting go of what we think a holiday WITH children 'should' look like.

Loads of sympathy though OP. We went through this at the start of a holiday last year and I was horrified and thought it was going to be a write off but we did manage to turn it round.

I bought and read 'how to talk so little kids will listen'. Some of it I ignored but I picked up on quite a lot of useful stuff in it.

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QueenOfWeeds · 02/08/2022 20:03

If you’ve got colouring things, could you make a v simple visual timetable? Little pieces of paper - one with a beach, one with an ice cream, bus, plate. Each day you can arrange them in an order of your choosing or - even better - give her some input into what order you do them. Only give her the pictures for the things you want to happen that day, obviously.

If you’re out and about, you could take a photo on your phone each morning to remind her what is happening during the day.

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TheMoth · 02/08/2022 20:04

Every year I would threaten never to do a family holiday again, due to dd. Sometimes ds, but mainly dd. We're through the hard bits now and heading to ungrateful teens, but I can live with that way more than the horrors of a tantrumming dd refusing to have suncream/ go in the sea/ come out of the sea/ share her boat.

I only really remember the good bits, but fb reminds me.

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Buttons0522 · 02/08/2022 20:04

Is there a kids club?!

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Youcancallmeirrelevant · 02/08/2022 20:06

We've just done a holiday with our 4yo and it was the easiest since she was born.
Breakfast, then swimming in the morning, DD was in and out of pool, played with toys, kindle etc in between.
Then lunch and repeat basically.
Nap at about 5-7 while we got ready for evening, then bed about 10ish/11ish.

DD likes a routine, and at 4 i could explain and mummy and daddy also wanted to relax on holiday and we're not there to entertain her 24/7. Helped there were other kids every so often at thehotel t play in kida pool with her

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SarahAndQuack · 02/08/2022 20:07

I agree, normal and just to do with being over tired/over excited. I agree trying for a nap would be good.

I also think, though I may be a pushover, I probably wouldn't have done the thing with the lolly. Sorry if I've missed it - but did she know the lolly was going to be conditional on decent behaviour? If not it seems a bit unfair. Not that you should reward bad behaviour, but I think at this age it is really hard to connect 'you have been really naughty' and 'I have made a decision about a treat'.

I definitely agree about lowering expectations. Your child won't become a spoilt brat because you allowed an ice cream on holiday even though there was no earthly reason she deserved it. You'll just go home and normal rules will resume.

FWIW, something I do that sometimes (!) works is, if my DD is being an absolute, total pain in the bum, and I'm pretty sure it's tiredness/excitement rather than genuine naughtiness, I work really hard to distract her and then I go into full on 'we're adults together' mode. Lots of 'hmm, DD, help me out: do you remember the car is parked on this row or the next?' 'DD, what do you think about this restaurant for dinner; I'm thinking it looks a bit busy?' IME if I can convince DD I am giving her really grown-up interactions, that seems to short-circuit the tantrum cycle.

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Jmommy · 02/08/2022 20:08

Take turns to relax and enjoy your holiday, that way you both get at least some enjoyable time. Have her watch cartoons too to give yourselves time to enjoy a coffee or wine on your balcony or whatever.

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TheYearOfSmallThings · 02/08/2022 20:09

Totally normal - everyone I know swears "never again" on every family holiday until their child is about 6. It's like childbirth - you forget the pain in between times.

As someone already said, it's just same shit different place, with disrupted sleep and unfamiliar food.

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AdriannaP · 02/08/2022 20:09

Do less, give her lots of water, make sure she rests! I made my then 4 year old nap
on holidays! She could then stay up late and everyone had a much better time.
pick your battles - it’s your holiday too!

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Algbu6 · 02/08/2022 20:10

Not normal. I swear by naps though that tired cry you hear on holiday when kids have been up from AM and then up till late evening.

If your DD won't listen she can go back to her room with you. The food thing... I wouldn’t over push if she's not hungry she will eat when she's ready.

I've holiday with DS from 2.5 and most of them have just been us 2. He's good.... now 7. He knows by now though that he will go back to our hotel room if he can't listen to me. At 7 we still go back to our room during the day to unwind as it does get a bit much if your going out on am evening as well.

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