We were financially not well-off in those days, given that I was a University student and my children's young father did not have a highly paid job. But we had something infinitely more precious than cold hard cash, and that was time plus the mindset to enjoy that time with our children.
Don't get me wrong - I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be at home with my kids and I love it, most of the time. But recently I've been missing the part of me that existed before I became the bum-wiping, tantrum-soothing ninja I am today.
Holidays are the main reason why August is the month when most people take digital detox. However, now that the summer is almost over and we are back to our lives and pouring rain, how can we make sure that our digital detox results stick?
While we were eating our first meal in the tent, I suddenly realised there was a smell of poo nearby. When I asked why, our eldest daughter rather worryingly informed us that she needed the toilet.
The uniform has been carefully purchased, washed and ironed to an inch of its life and the painful task of labelling the whole flipping thing is finally done.The time has come at last time for the new school year and the kids are FINALLY back at school! I can feel your excitement from here.
We grabbed a budget rental car and headed to the laid back beaches of Fort Myers, compared to the more hedonistic Miami where an overnight stay at Loews hotel gave us a glam glimpse of city, with a super safe family swimming pool and Nikki Beach's famous brunch just a stone's throw away.
It was a long car journey, taking nearly two full days with an overnight stop in a fantastic budget hotel in Le Mans en route (see, I can speak French and everything!). We learnt a few things during our trip, so here's my honest guide to driving in France, with some helpful tips and a few MASSIVE generalisations, all served with un petit peu of sarcasm:
It feels a shame to cut the six weeks short by readying ourselves now for the school term, but having left it too late in the past, and having been a teacher myself for many years, I know that being a prepared parent makes things much easier.
I'm the mother who has to hush my children to the doorway to check that it's not too full or noisy (first born), that it doesn't smell too plasticky (second born) and that there is good security on the entrance/exit doors (third born).
The summer holidays are nearing their end, and if you're sat there thinking you wished you did a little more with them, here's some inspiration for next year.
As I am feeling nicely organised this year, I thought I would share with you some of the products I have picked up to make travelling with kids that little bit easier! No longer is my greatest dilemma matching heels with bags, it is being prepared for almost every eventuality holidaying with children brings.
Just thinking about his first day of school makes me wobbly. I'm going to miss him so much. But sometimes - on the days when it's too hot, and we're too tired, and there have been three tantrums by 10am, and that's only counting mine - I do idly fantasise about what I'll do with all that free time.
As a working mum, I have a specific time frame in the morning to get ready and out of the door in time to get the toddler to wherever he needs to be and me to the train station and into work on time.
You only need to look on social-media during the summer-holidays to find parents up and down the country looking for free fun days-out and that magical formula to entice their kids away from their consoles and in to the great outdoors.
Today, there is no stereotypical family unit - families come in all shapes and sizes and the family unit is constantly evolving. But one thing that remains unchanged and will remain valid in perpetuity is that time together as a family can bring immense joy, happiness, and fulfilment.
I recently took my seven-week-old to Vevey in Switzerland by train (that's a baby travel blog post to come!). The journey went well (we're still alive) thanks to good preparation (loco2 proved to be an easy-to-use train journey planner) and some key travel essentials...