The postcard version of our holiday - a happy family of four. Donning our best 'summer clothes', sun hats, smeared in sun cream out and about enjoying the sun, sea, sand, pool and the guaranteed nice weather for 10 days in Spain. Everyone is happy and content. We all get along famously without the everyday stresses of home. Ahhhh, bliss!
The reality is a little different. While of course we are super lucky to be able to go abroad for our holiday and 'go to the sun' for 10 days and I'm not complaining for a minute, one must always remember that when you go on holiday as a family, your children bring their personalities with them too. They don't transform into the little angels they can sometimes be just because they are getting some extra family-time and extra time with Mum and Dad.
The postcard version doesn't tell of the lunchtime we were sitting in a super-busy tourist trap restaurant on a seafront waiting for our lunch. A six-year-old was hungry, and started feeling 'cold' because we were in the shade, you know, to avoid burning in the hottest part of the day. It wasn't cold of course, being about 28 degrees. He started to moan about being cold and we moved him slightly so he was more in the sun. This didn't help very much. The food was taking an age. Then his brother spilled his water right across the table and he got wet. Well the screams were something else. He screamed and screeched despite our repeated efforts to calm him down. The tables were very close together outside the restaurant and everyone stared. I'm not exaggerating. I know it's difficult with any child tantruming but it's surprising to see such a big, strong, six-year-old in full flow. Daddy ended up carrying him to the car kicking and screaming. I had to ask for our lunch to go whereupon our three-year-old had a strop because he thought we weren't going to get our food at all. So another 10 minutes waiting in the restaurant for our food to go and 30euro wasted on a lunch which we ate in the car.
Nor does the postcard show the huge lump on the three year old's head after falling out of bed. Accidents are always more common in a strange house, or strange bed. There is guilt over even bringing them away. But they are having the time of their lives, I promise (and his head was fine by the next day).
There was also the incident when when we had a lovely evening meal at a restaurant, and afterwards I had the three year old up on my lap and we were chatting away, and next thing I know I'm soaking wet. He'd had no toileting accidents all day. Until then. The highlight of my trip, I'm sure.
There is also thrown books, crayons, the few toys they have with them. And the fighting. With each other. Not to mention the sun cream in the eye and the sand in the eye. I feel sure that all the near neighbours think we are beating our children or something with the amount of shouting going on.
So it seems picnics and cooking at home are still the way to go for now with our family. Or feeding them before going to a restaurant. Childproof your holiday accommodation even if your kids are older. Lower your expectations a little and all will be well.
And don't believe every holiday picture-perfect family you see.