How to stop kids from ruining your holiday

Remember last summer when Kirstie Allsopp caused a furore by admitting that she sticks her kids in economy whilst living it up in business class? The internet was up in arms – what if they need to be disciplined? What if they’re kidnapped? The tutting coul be heard throughout the land. Kirstie was steadfast - why waste the money on the ungrateful little tykes? Should they desire extra leg room, let them save their pocket money. Truth be told, I backed Kirstie (not that she needed it because the woman sweats confidence.) She explained that having her children with her in business class was a ‘waste of money’ and I couldn’t agree more. No one under the age of eighteen appreciates real cutlery or a warm flannel. Of course, there are some who might say she should have sat with her kids in the back but I know if there’s one thing that ruins a holiday, it’s kids. I think a vacation with children is like a bath without water – you’re going through the motions but, ultimately, it’s pointless. I love spending time with my son but our interests don’t always align – he enjoys running about and climbing on things and water slides; I like those things too but I like them more with alcohol. The one thing he isn’t into is sleeping and sadly that’s my primary motivation for booking a break, in short we aren’t the best vacay buddies. I’m lucky, I have a very equitable co parenting set up and have the time to plan a solo trip as well as one geared towards my son but if you don't have the luxury of divorce, here are my tips to stop a holiday with the kids feeling like work.  

Plan your route  In the past I’ve fallen at the first hurdle and forced my child to endure a journey so epic that the aftereffects lasted the rest of the holiday. You don’t have to pull a Kirstie to have a successful flight with children but there are things you can do to ease the pain. I think flying is better when they’re small, everyone fears the crying baby on a plane but at least a baby can be contained. For a good sleeper a night flight is perfect – travel in pyjamas and start bedtime stories immediately after take off. When Roscoe was tiny, we would give chocolate to surrounding passengers, an apology in advance for any disturbance. It seemed to work, it’s much harder to voice complaints with a mouth full of Toblerone. Whenever possible reserve seating when taking trains, sadly you can’t always rely on the kindness of commuting strangers. Most of all remember that the holiday starts at home, pack games and snacks for the trip and teach your kids that delays aren’t challenges but part of the adventure.

Stick it to the schedule After a holiday throughout which I spent every evening lying in a dark hotel room, I made the decision to stick it to the schedule. Sleep and meal times went out the window, so we could all bed down at the same time each night. This can work really well with a time difference that allows your child to naturally stay awake later. You will be screwed when you get home but this is about the holiday – no pain, no gain.

Forget about nutrition Let them eat cake! A week without fibre will do no harm. Often eating habits change when away from home and it will only add to your stress levels to try and force five a day into your child. You want to be making memories and what’s more memorable than ice cream for lunch? No matter where you roam, everyone has potatoes and that means everyone has chips but don’t assume you know anything about your child’s palate, you might find that a kid that exists on sandwiches at home is suddenly happy to chew on a sheep’s eyeball. Holidays are a chance for everyone to relax about mealtimes.

Take a break If you’re lucky enough to have another adult on hand, book in some time for yourself during your break. When a parent, me time is at a premium and an hour alone with a book can be as rejuvenating as a week-long retreat. A lot of people think kids’ clubs are things of great evil and holidays should be spent ‘as a faaaaamily’. I accept that some of you might want to be with your children but do they want to be with you? I love my parents but some of my favourite holiday memories involve joining a ragtag gang of sunburned marauders, determined to terrorise the resort staff. You can all be together at home, when it’s raining – holidays are about sharing time but not necessarily space.


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