Hard to find ideal holiday with nippers at your heels
AND BABY MAKES FOUR
It's getting close to that time of year that everyone loves. I don't mean Christmas, because not everyone loves that.
Summer holidays. Now that's what I'm talking about. There can't be a person on the planet who doesn't appreciate a good summer break. A few hot days at the seaside, river or lake, summer- style eating and drinking, and plenty of fun and frivolity. What could be better?
I'm writing this yesterday, yes, perhaps a little past deadline, and it's meant to get to 24 degrees. Glorious. As Ferris Bueller once said, "how could we possibly be expected to go to [work] on a day like this".
So who isn't thinking about their holiday?
But of course, going on holidays with little ones can be . . . well . . . somewhat challenging. Actually, that's understating it.
Obviously the parents will be wanting a break and an opportunity to recharge the batteries, but with young ones there's still too many things that need to be done for them to actually kick back and relax - cleaning, washing, tidying up toys, negotiating peace treaties and the like. And we all know that sun, sand and sugar don't really mix well with children.
They get hot, high and sticky, and then sandy. Then grumpy and argumentative, and then the tears and wailing start. Sigh.
I know it's often said that with small children, they fit in to your holidays. But that's a tad simplistic. For a start, they still usually need naps. Bit hard to spend a day at the beach if, to avoid the arrival of Mr and Mrs Feral-pants that night, they still need some solid sleep. On the plus side, when you're on holiday, getting them to sleep in the afternoon can provide an opportunity for a nap yourself. And by that, I do actually mean a genuine nap.
Routine is often the only thing keeping the household sane so putting them in a strange environment, out of sync and disjointed from their reality and you're sitting on a a recipe for disaster.
We've done two road trips now, firstly with Zach and then with the both of them, and they actually proved to be (despite my misgivings) fairly successful holidays. A bit of careful planning in relation to packing, as well as driving times and stopping locations, and it went reasonably well. It pays to travel when they usually sleep and know where the best parks are on the way - well done Oamaru.
As they get older, I know everything will improve. My brothers and I have the best memories of summer holidays spent in Arrowtown, staying in the smallest crib known to man, playing by the river, making dams, long swims in Lake Hayes, the annual day-trip to stinking-hot Alexandra along that terrible gorge road while they were building the dam. We didn't really do that much or spend too much money, but we had a blast.
I'm keen for my kids to have that experience too. Two weeks of nothing to do but every possibility available. Hot and dusty days followed by barbecues, late nights, backyard cricket and swingball.
But we're still a few years away from those types of holidays. So until then, it's hard to decide what we should do. A stay-cation with regular day-trips to the beach or a river? Or simple daily park visits? Another road trip? Or try for a crib-based break somewhere further north? They're unlikely to have any memories of this holiday, so it's something of a conundrum.
Actually the big question about holidays, and not just for us, is how does one house them? Tenting can lead to disaster - think sick kids, bad weather, noise, heat, and limited facilities. With caravans there tends to be a cost outlay, plus you've got constrained space issues to think about. Cabins in a camping ground bring similar issues.
Renting a holiday home is often the best option - you have rooms to stick them in, you have a fridge to keep their food chilled and if the weather cuts up rough, you've got an inside option, often with games left by people who have had kids trapped indoors in the past.
So I'm not sure when we'll get away for a break this year but there will be a holiday. As Mr Bueller said, how can we possibly be expected to work in a summer like this?
* Mark Hotton is a fulltime journalist/fulltime dad/part-time holiday planner who wishes he could spend his holiday in a villa or on a beach in Italy but is resigned to the fact that won't be happening until his children pay for it. But at least he knows they will eventually pay for it because, since their births, he's been using subliminal messaging on them.
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