We all know those people who come back from holidays complaining of being ‘exhausted’, right? The people everyone else very strongly wants to stab? Well, those people are parents and the reason they are ‘exhausted’ is because parenting on holiday is not restful. It is INTENSE.
We all think we’re going on holidays to make magical family memories for our children, to rekindle our love for our life-partner, to reenact a life insurance ad basically. The reality is far closer to those opening scenes of Apocolypse Now only with more screaming.
Expectation: The holiday will be a chance for everyone to unwind.
Reality: The holiday will be a chance to spend €2000 parenting in 40° heat, in a significantly less well-equipped location.
Solution: Adjust expectations radically.
Expectation: The plane will be a nightmare.
Reality: The plane will indeed be a nightmare. While people in your vicinity are wishing they could justifiably murder you and your hell-spawn, you are wishing that it wasn’t frowned upon to drug children. Sitting on a four-hour flight your mind will visit some pretty dark places. One summer I was cradling my infant, rocking him with a dogged determination in an attempt to quell his rage-screaming. At one point I noticed that if I rocked him a certain way this action served to muffle his crying somewhat. Then I realised that I was actually choosing to mildly smother my son instead of inconveniencing a few intolerant, child-hating strangers.
Solution: In place of giving your child a sedative, instead bring an emergency personal valium to place under the tongue when the tantrum hits. This will dull the pain of air travel. Important sidenote: Do not tell your co-parent that you are taking a personal valium, someone needs their full faculties to care for the hell-spawn.
Expectation: The beach will be lovely, everyone loves the beach don’t they?
Reality: Sand. Goes. EVERYWHERE. You will never be rid of this gritty, sand-plague. Also, the beach is a hostile environment for Irish children. It will be hotter than the surface of the sun. “Why have you brought us to this hell-furnace?” Their red, sweaty faces implore. Your children will whine without end upon being deposited on the gritty, scorching sand-grill, where their freckly, pink flesh will slow-roast before you finally migrate to the shade from which your family will gaze out at all the European holidaymakers frolicking in the surf and enjoying life.
Solution: Stick to the pool, it is a far more manageable environment; also proximity to the bar is a must.
Expectation: The sun block faff will be a bit annoying.
Reality: The sun block faff will quite literally make you wish that you had never been born. Frequent sun block application will mean that the children are basically lubricated, this will lead to them frequently sliding off plastic pool furniture and making them near-impossible to capture as they evade further applications. Also, everything will immediately adhere to their sticky little bodies; grit, dirt, old chewing gum, cigarette butts, bits of food, everything.
Solution: None, the alternative to basting them every fifteen minutes in sun block, is allowing them to get burned. “Let them roast,” you might think, feeling reckless after the lunchtime wine but remember you will be suffering by their side if they get burned. You will pay for this neglect as they will be crankier than ever, while judgmental onlookers will assume you are a terrible parent.
Expectation: We will make magical memories for the kids.
Reality: We will start to deeply resent those little bast*rds for not appreciating the hard work and vast sums of money that we are literally pouring into the quest to make magical memories.