Its inevitable that last week’s glorious weather – which we are almost certainly destined to wistfully refer to as “the summer” come October – makes us all long for a proper holiday.
With the dark nights of winter seeming to have stretched back three or four years all that unexpected sunshine has got us all yearning to keep those shorts on for an extended spell.
Of course a break with small children in tow isn’t a break from parental duties in the slightest and the oasis of calm and relaxation we remember from our pre travel cot erecting days is replaced by something altogether more strenuous.
Arriving at your holiday home to find that the stair gate you requested looks like it was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and assembled by Frank Spenser can be just the beggining of a hectic week or two chasing after toddlers as they zero in on yet another dangerous part of their new world.
Over time though you learn – sometimes the hard way – that the nuts and bolts of where you go is crucial when you enter the realm of the family holiday and that simplicity can often be the key to having a great time.
You’ll only get too ambitious and bite off more than you can chew the once. An eco campsite on stilts complete with your own personal bee hive might sound idyllic but you’ll need sedating on arrival back home with all the nerves you’ve shredded keeping your 3 year old out of harms way.
Then there’s who to go with. There’s an awful lot to be said for sharing the load with other parents of children a similar age to yours. The little ones get playmates, the grown ups get conversations that don’t revolve around Iggle Piggle and no one can complain about the noise or the broken nights.
Although doubling up with another family can be a great idea for all those reasons, it’s worth thinking long and hard about who you choose to go away. There’s nowhere to hide in a holiday cottage and you become exposed to their parenting techniques – and their relationship.
As do they to your little foibles.
It’s a very sobering vacation moment as a Dad when you realise that your opposite number not only does every breakfast stint with his spotless children, but has also never missed a bathtime.
Your hitherto celebrated (at least by you) fatherhood skills now move firmly under the microscope as your partner watches this blessed man complete every chore, play every game and tidy up every jigsaw piece with a smile on his face and a song in his heart.
Don’t let that put you off though, if you’re going to be just as busy on holiday as you are at home you might as well do it with people who are as exhausted as you are and who get just as excited about that first glass of wine of an evening!