Sun, sea and sand - all you needs is a bucket and spade to keep young and even older kids entertained
As with most things in life, holidays and summer activities with young children should be kept as simple as possible if you want smiley happy faces.
We are just back from a glorious week in Majorca with our two kids (4.5 years) and (20 months). It was a fantastic week of real family time, hilarious photos and videos, giggles and priceless memories.
But it also included flight delays, tired and irritated children, some shouting, whinging, crying, cursing, sweating and thoughts of “why the hell did we bother?!”
Travelling with young children is not easy, what keeps one entertained may irritate the other and if they get too tired or too bored the fall out can impact everyone’s mood.
Bags, pushchairs and car seats all need to be maneuvered along with ready to combust walking timebombs who could at any second have a melt down that cannot be muted with food, sweets, promises or threats (I tried them all!).
An extremely long day of travel to our destination left us with very cranky and tired kids for the first two days of holidays. Nothing pleased them, the swimming pools were too cold, the room too hot, the food disgusted them, their sandals hurt their toes, getting suncream on was a drama, wearing hats was a fight, their sunglasses didn’t fit right …
My husband and I were left questioning all our life decisions that led us here and regretting the large hole left in our bank account for this trip.
So we went back to basics, we took a walk (that no one wanted to go on) down to the shops, let them pick out some buckets and spades and headed for the beach. One chose the sea, while the other took to the sand and we eventually saw smiles, got some decent photos and started our holiday. Simple: Sun, sea and sand.
Once we were over that bump we really did enjoy our holiday, of course there was still some whinging and shouting but that is just family life! The kids didn’t see a vegetable for a week and survived happily on chicken nuggets, pizza and chips washed down with mountains of ice-cream and us adults were not far behind them!
We tried to liven the week up with a trip to a theme park and places of interest, but to be honest the kids were happiest in the simplest of moments: splashing, building sand castles, following a trail of ants and watching TV in the nude!
Lots of our friends told us we were “mental” to bring young children abroad but for us it is a necessary family trip. Of course the kids would have been just as happy in Bundoran or Strandhill for a week, but we would have remained distracted. We would have been watching or listening to the news every day, staring and scrolling through our phones, taking calls and messages from work and friends, planning for the future and not living in the now. On holidays we switch off our phones and actually focus on the kids, spend the time answering their questions instead of shushing them, play with them instead of rushing them about and slow down. We eat our meals together and relax (well as much as you can while running after a wild toddler.)
The result is we came home knowing each other a bit better. The 20 month old is actually using words to communicate and his sister has returned full of confidence after a week of swimming, dancing and being master over her own food and drink choices!
Here is hoping we have a long hazy summer of the simple things that make children and in turn parents happy!