Holidays are made of good memories. I have many. The West of Ireland springs to mind immediately. I also had very memorable times in both Spain and Turkey. A St. Patricks Day spent in New Zealand was incredible. Then there was a break for a while. We had started our family and holidays were the farthest thing on our mind.
I was never thrilled with the idea of a family of six battling for prime seats on a flight to a sunnier clime for a fortnight. To be followed, I am absolutely certain, with cross children who are finding it hard to adjust to the heat, grumpy and refusing to eat.
But we wanted to go on holiday. So we took our three small boys on a staycation that consisted of a mid-week family break. I was a couple of months pregnant with our fourth son and was expecting to be shattered tired, but I was determined to enjoy the break regardless.
We had a wonderful time. The bunk beds in our hotel room charmed the collective trousers off the boys and the excitement was insurmountable when they saw the swimming pool. Things continued to improve with the weather holding up, lovely food and sight-seeing.
Some people say you shouldn’t try to repeat a good experience because it usually does not measure up second time round.
Our next family holiday showed that to be the case. For us at least. We had four small boys then, one of whom fell ill during our three night stay in a hotel room that was not suitable for a family of six. I ended up sleeping on the floor for one of those nights. It was so miserable we decided to stay in a guest house for one extra night, determined to knock some fun out of what had been a most disappointing holiday.
Thankfully, that was a good idea. It just about gave us some fond memories of an otherwise poor vacation.
Last summer we decided to holiday at home again and this time we spent it with other family members in a rented house at the beach.
That’s three years in a row now we have opted for a staycation and with the exception of the middle holiday, it has worked out really well for us. In particular the one with our extended family.
Going on holidays with family can work out brilliantly or it can be the holiday from hell. It helps of course that everyone gets along under normal circumstances because let’s face it, a situation where adults and small children are in close proximity and out of their normal routine for any length of time can be a recipe for total disaster.
It is also true to say the advantages of going on holiday en masse are numerous.
Here are 7 top tips that should help your family holiday run smoothly.
Show me the money
A definite plus side of holidaying with family and one of the more obvious benefits is the fact that accommodation costs are kept to a minimum as everyone can pay their way. Make a list in the run up to the holiday and buy non-perishable food in the weekly shop especially for the break away. No-one wants to cook on holidays but items such as beans can get you out of a tight spot in a hurry when hunger calls after a day on the beach.
High on Emotion
Holidays are a very excitable time for everyone concerned. Getting there can be stressful in itself so it is a good idea, as we discovered, to meet up at a halfway point to stretch legs and have a light meal. It also means you do not have to rush out and look for the nearest supermarket when you arrive at your destination because there is nothing to give tired, cranky and hungry children.
Some Ground Rules
It might seem like bringing the teacher on holidays with you but putting a few ground rules in place beforehand could prevent a few clashes later on. For example if there are small babies in the family it might be wise to make people aware that early bedtimes and possibly a couple of naps during the day are going to be necessary.
The last thing anyone wants to think about on holidays are injuries but packing a first aid kit with some basic items can prove invaluable. An over the counter spray for wasp and bee stings is very handy to have. Also include plasters, anti-septic, anti-histamines, inhalers, and Paracetamol for both adults and children alike.
It is very important to remember that each family has its own dynamic and whilst it is lovely to share the same experiences on holidays it is also essential that everyone spends some time apart and not live in each other’s pockets. It might prove advantageous if the accommodation has adequate cooling off space for everyone. Familiarity can breed contempt even on a relaxing break.
Young cousins are great company for each other during the day but the novelty can wear thin, particularly if they are unused to spending a lot of time together. It is only natural that spats will break out so it is of absolute utter importance that discipline is carried out by the child’s parents and not their aunt, uncle or grandparent.
Summertime and the Livin’ is easy
Everyone knows everyone else and there are always babysitters at hand if one couple feels like getting away by themselves. And if you opt to sit in during the evenings, there are worse things you could enjoy than a relaxing meal and a glass of wine while the children sleep nearby.
On a final note, there is little or nothing that can be done about the weather. It simply boils down to dressing for the elements and then getting on with things. So pack coats, shorts and t-shirts, fleece tops, flip flops, welly boots and sandals. Basically prepare for every weather possibility and bring plenty of sun block of course.
Lastly but definitely not least, enjoy yourself and take plenty of photographic memories.
Holidays such as these are to be cherished.