We haven’t had many of them, but here in Greece we find ourselves together, a family of five, abroad on holiday for the first time. Dreams of a relaxing carefree week have drifted through our minds for months in the lead up to this half term break. Our decision to find a sunny resort, all inclusive, one (big) payment upfront and the week there to swim, eat, relax, explore and sleep seemed just perfect. We all needed this!
But with children reality is oh so different ….
I don’t know if it’s just ours but they seem like the loudest rabble around, a scruffy, shouting, running, screaming, fighting rabble. Conversations are conducted through top of the lung shouting, even a couple of feet away from each other or across the dining room table.
Jesse, our youngest, is an absolute liability. He has little to no care for personal safety, hygiene, or rules. He charges headlong into anything and everything with energy and exuberance which translates to - does what the heck he wants.
Dinner times are a battle, chairs and tables are climbing frames, other people’s tables are way more interesting than ours and Jesse’s high pitched piercing voice can destroy the romantic ambiance of a couple of courting lions, never mind romantic holiday dinners (other people, not us).
Our two older kids have more energy than anyone in the world ever. A desperate, deathly need to do everything the huge resort has to offer, every minute of every day...and night.
This all means that as parents of three quite young kids we have to be supervising them doing every activity there is on offer every minute of every day. When the weather isn't perfect (rain and cold wind on a couple of days) you still have to go swimming, snorkelling, octopus filming, pool diving even if Gin & Tonic has to be said through your own chattering teeth.
It means that in the restaurants you can’t actually sit down and have a conversation with, well anyone, because you’re too busy rugby tackling your 18 month old son before he sticks his head in the pretty little fountain in the entrance. Or clambers onto next door’s table with sandy, crock-clad feet and makes a dive for their beautifully cooked fillet between two sticky little fingers.
It means that the dreams of ‘free’ ‘limitless’ supplies of poolside cocktails are not consumed to the extent you imagined, or in fact at all, because your oldest son wants to play dolphins for two hours non stop in that chilly deep pool, and your youngest it turns out, is a kamikaze diver prepared to dive headfirst into anything wet.
All inclusive luxury family holiday problems…
But we wouldn't have it any other way. It’s been exhausting. It hasn’t been quite the relaxing holiday we imagined it would be, but these kids are awesome. We’ve discovered it doesn’t matter that they are a little bit loud, actually they are pretty sweet. Jesse’s dirty little face is funny. They are polite kids and are just being kids. No one really minds. They love being in water and need it after never having a proper pool holiday before. I owe them my time to spend in the water with them. I can sacrifice a headache tomorrow for the lasting memories we will make together today. We’ve got through all the dinner times in posh restaurants with some improved rugby tackling technique and (I hate to say it) hours, bloody hours of peppa pig streaming on a mobile phone. We’ll wean him off it when we get home….
It’s been a brilliant holiday in the sun, even on the days the weather was quite frankly pretty crap. We’ve eaten well, drunk plenty, played games together, improved our dolphin techniques, I’ve lost my hearing and we’re coming home with something resembling a healthy glow. We’re all knackered, heads full of memories and laughs, for sure the sign of a great holiday together!