We haven’t been on holiday since before I fell pregnant with the boy – it’s been a frigging long time and it’s starting to get me down. Having family in Devon is great as we can go and visit them and it feels like “going away” but deep down I think we all know it’s not really the same thing. A holiday comes with no obligations and a trip to the city where all your family and friends live does not. I’m not complaining, it’s just the way it is.
So anyway yeah, Oscar has never had a proper holiday. This is mainly down to lack of funds if truth be told. But it also has something to do with not really knowing how to holiday as a family/with children. Before Oscar, we were massive fans of the Greek Islands having visited five different ones over the past 10 years. When he was a baby, and buoyed by a complete naivety of the situation, I was adamant I wanted to take him there, right now! Maybe it would have worked when he was a dot of a thing, but the more I get to know him and the more I wise up to what he’s all about, the more I know a proper beach holiday is going to have to wait. Not really for any other reason than he’s a runner. He would NEVER sit on a beach and build sandcastles, at least not yet. At all times one or the other of us would be having to run after him. I’m sure he’d think it was a great lark, but he’d put up with constantly being dragged back, about as long as I would put up with running after him. We’d come back more knackered than when we went away!
This being the case I think Ben would be just as happy to not take a holiday, or at a push take a ‘staycation’, a holiday at home. Only that’s all I do. I’m here all the time. It would be like me suggesting we spend a week in Ben’s office in Camberley, taking day trips out to the Co-Op or to look at Sandhurst barracks down the road. He sees these things every day – it wouldn’t be a holiday for him. And as I spend my whole life in my house or around the local area, staying here wouldn’t be a holiday for me either. If they say a change is as good as a rest, then that wouldn’t be it.
So I got to thinking, maybe the answer would be to consider the unconsiderable (at least it was two years ago) – holidaying in the UK. My childless self would have just gasped and slapped me. What is the point? It’s more expensive and the weathers shit, right? OK, so yes it can prove just as expensive as flying to another country (which is bonkers if you ask me) and the weather can be wholly unpredictable. But look at last summer. And this summer’s not shaping up to be half as bad either. It can work. And kids don’t care where they go do they? I didn’t.
I spent the first 12 years of my life in the West Midlands. In that time a holiday to us was a week in the UK, usually somewhere like Bournemouth, Devon or Cornwall. And I loved it. I still remember the thrill of staying somewhere new. And the butterflies I’d get when the sea would come into view, competing with my brother to be the first to shout “I can see the sea!”. We spent hours playing on various UK beaches, my favourite at the time being Boscombe Beach. I remember it’s ramp down to the sand, the concrete hot under your bare feet, the pier we never went down, but occasionally sheltered under if the weather suddenly changed and the excitement of queuing for an ice cream or gathering to watching a (frankly macabre) Punch and Judy show.
I’ve no idea how my parents felt about the whole experience but I loved it and it gave me precious memories to carry with me for life. But I was older. And I was a very different child to the boy. What can we do, that Oscar will enjoy, will work for who he is, but that wont leave us with black rings under our eyes cursing the money we’ve spent? You might think we’re over analysing the whole thing and there might be parents reading this who are screaming hey just do it – go with the flow, enjoy it. But I know my guys (the big one and the little one) and if it’s not going to work for both of them, in some way, then what on earth is the point?
Last week we were introduced to the idea of a UK hotel break, but one that is super child focussed. Our friend Michelle and her hubby and two toddler girls went to Moonfleet Manor in Weymouth, part of the Luxury Family Hotels chain. She came back saying she hadn’t relaxed so much since the girls were born, thanks to the absolute focus the hotel places on enjoyment for all the family. I had to check it out and they really do seem to understand toddlers, and more to the point the parents of toddlers, completely. Part of the deal is a creche, run for four hours a day to allow everyone in the family to spend some time doing what they enjoy most. It really didn’t take me long to sell it to Ben. We’re going for a mini break in August and Oscar’s already booked into the creche for two hours each day. I hope to use the spa, absolutely I do, but I think I’m just looking forward to sitting. In peace, without feeling like I should be doing something. And with the baby listening service provided as part of the deal it’ll be nice for Ben and I to spend some quality time together. You know, just being grown ups.
Maybe one day we’ll be able to do two weeks in the Med, enjoying the beach and the local food and all that jazz. For now, I’ll take a hotel in Dorset that is going to help me care for my son and give me the break I’ve been craving, every time.
I’ll let you know how it goes!