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Reflections on a Summer holiday abroad
I’m just back from two weeks in Tenerife. Sorry I really should have said goodbye on the blog but that is why it has been so quiet around here. We are now back on Irish soil and reality has bitten. It will bite harder on Monday when my husband goes back to work but we will cross that bridge then!
Having spent a day at home yesterday I sat down last night and over a glass of wine (we are still in holiday mode!) reflected on the two weeks and our holidays in general.
The things we loved about our holiday:
Getting away – One of the greatest things in my view of having a holiday is getting away. It sounds obvious but it doesn’t matter if its out of the country or not (although I must admit to preferring to get on a plane and get out of the country) to be away from the familiar four walls is good for the soul – and the stress levels. The kids love a new environment and its great to see them excited about new places and discovering new surroundings.
No (or little) housework – in general terms there is no washing, no cleaning (we had a daily cleaning service) and only a little cooking. We generally go self catering so breakfast was cereal, toast or pain au chocolat (which became a regular morning breakfast on the terrace) with coffee, lunch some bread and ham /salad or an oven cooked pizza and dinner we ate out for probably 11 or 12 of the 14 nights – mostly nowhere fancy but we love to eat out and where possible local cuisine served up to us – and someone else cleaned up after dinner and worried about the dirty dishes. Bliss!
Family time – having all 5 of us together every day for 2 full weeks is great. Okay, there are times we probably tested each other (is that polite enough way of saying it?) and the kids certainly tested my husband for the first few days until he got used to their intensity (I had gotten used to it during my first month on career break) but overall it is great to spend such hassle free time together. So often our weekend family time is dotted with obligations such as washing and cleaning and visitors that its not pure family time. This holiday was great family time.
Achievements – this holiday, more so that any other before it, saw our kids really develop. Our oldest starting swimming without her armbands, our middle child who up to now would cling to either me or my husband in any pool we ever went to took off swimming around the pool, even in the deep end (albeit with his arm bands on). His water confidence really took off. We even dared a visit to the water park (Aqua land, Costa Adeje) which thankfully was incredibly orientated to young kids and all three of them loved it and had a ball. This was a real first for us. Myself and my husband always went to water parks on holidays pre children and up to now thought them too small to go but this was a real milestone in our family life.
Sunshine – okay so July in Ireland was warm. We really enjoyed the heatwave but with my husband still working and all the usual housework to do it just wasn’t the same as having fabulous weather without all the other bits! And the weather was fabulous. I was nervous going away in August with young kids and hot temperatures. The temperature was about 28 degrees Celsius with a lovely sea breeze most times. With temperatures of 35-40 degrees in Spain and Portugal we made a great choice to go to Tenerife.
Reflection – okay this post is a reflection on my holiday but one of the great things I found on holiday was the opportunity to reflect on life. Just to take some time out to think about what I have done, where I am at and where I hope the next year takes me. Once we get the kids to bed on holidays (which this year was late!) myself and the other half tend to sit on the balcony/terrace and have a drink together and chat. If we sit down for a drink at home there tends to be a tv, an iPad or phone preventing good old proper talking but on holidays we really talk. Sometimes its pipe dream stuff but very often we focus our minds on our mutual expectations of the coming year. Sometimes, if I get a quite moment to myself I like to just close my eyes and breath in the fresh sea air – I can almost feel the wave of relaxation rush over me.
Life is never all sweetness and light. Holidays are not a perfect science. Some of the things that were not the highlights are:
Flying – of course to achieve the “getting away” particularly to another country will involve some sort of travel. In our case air travel. Flying fills me with anxiety. Don’t ask me why. It is an illogical fear I have. I used to be petrified of flying – almost not boarding a flight to Lanzarote one year. I am much better now and have become mildly obsessed with flying (even did a simulator session earlier this year) but utterly fearful at the same time. Flying with three young kids certainly keeps your mind off any fear you may have but adds a whole other type of anxiety. This was only our second time flying with three kids – the first 14 months ago when our youngest was only a baby who would sit still in our arms. This year was always going to be a challenge of dealing with a bubbly 21 month old who only had a lap allocated to her. We managed to hold off her afternoon nap until we boarded (she must have been beyond tired) but she was asleep before we even left the ground. Unfortunately given it was a 4.5 hour flight she was awake for most of it. I was glad to land – although I have to say all of them were fantastic. I am sure I will have enough material for a “Tips for flying with young kids” post very soon.
Sun cream – don’t get me wrong I am not going to be stupid and avoid it but applying sun cream every morning to three kids is not a fun task. It was probably exasperated by the fact that for about 3 weeks of July I had to apply sun cream in Ireland. I don’t want to see another bottle of Factor 50+ for a long time!!
Bar/Restaurant touts – we love eating out on holidays. Sampling the lovely food of our chosen destination is a lovely treat but we hate those guys who stalk you outside a restaurant practically kidnapping you into the restaurant. There was one particular guy this year who in the first few days did our head in. Husband decided that on a point of principle he would not go to the restaurant – even though it was across the road and looked lovely. We eventually went (couldn’t be bothered walking further) and it was fab! We went back for another dinner and lunch on our last day. The guy outside practically got to know us and once he did he was grand. I know they are just trying to win you into their establishment but god if they could just ease off. We could have easily missed a fabulous restaurant experience. Since going there I have read that this particular restaurant is ranked No 4 of 121 on Trip Advisor for the area with lots of comments about the tout!
Sand – our complex was right on the beach. The beaches of Tenerife have black sand which was a real novelty – especially for the kids who are used to the golden sands of North County Dublin. I love the beach but the after effects of the sand are hard going. Sand in every orifice! This is probably not a holiday specific gripe – a trip to the beach in Donabate would have me cursing to the same extent – except it would be me who would have to clean the sand riddled floors and bathroom!
Coming home – why can’t holidays last forever? I guess if they did then they wouldn’t be holidays. Or enjoyable. It would become the norm and you would tire of it. But I hate the last day or so of a holiday. I start to feel sad. I think about the things I should have done but just sat on my backside beside the pool and there is also a flight to face with kids. I think about what I will be facing when I get home which generally involves a lot of washing as well as kids who are so out of sorts from routine it is painful.
Despite that I am blessed to have been able to afford to get away this year and of course any little niggles are minor compared to the enjoyment the holiday brought.
Now that I am on career break I am not sure when I will be able to do the same again. Hopefully we will get away again sometime in the future.