Today Daddy Poppins poses the question.. can you have a relaxing holiday (or even something resembling an actual 'holiday') with your kids in tow.
So we booked a house in Wicklow through Airbnb (our first time ever using them). 4 nights away; me, the Bear, the little man and the little princess.
We arrived around 4pm on Sunday.
"Oh wow. It's fab!" proclaimed the Bear as we arrived.
I had to agree. The place looked great; river views, peace and quiet, quirky layout, balconies, countryside location, full of board games, books and all kinds of everything for relaxation and family fun.
"There's no TV!" said Ben.
'Great', I thought, 'It'll just be us and family activities!' (Without my usual hint of sarcasm).
I was all in for this, "let the family holiday begin!!!!!"
The first night was going swimmingly. I'd visited the local town and bought supplies for the fridge and we were settling in ever so nicely. We all had a walk over to our own private island!! (Private Island, haha. I felt like the euro millions advert guy).
Then I popped back into town to buy a Chinese. (No point in stressing yourself out cooking on the first night, eh? 😜)
As I finished the Chinese and ventured into the cozy sitting room I sat back and thought, 'This is amazing, for the price of a hotel room we have an unbelievable 4/5 bed house in its own grounds with a river and it's own island!!'
This was all going so well.
Right, thats the blog question done and dusted. You can have a happy relaxing no stress holiday with family.
Narrator: little did Daddy Poppins know a series of events had been set in place and by the early morning his opinion would have changed. Now back to the story...
Bella's bedtime arrived and she went off to sleep without much fuss. Was I dreaming? In a strange house? 1 child down, actually asleep, it's a bonafide miracle!!
Narrator: see ....he's jinxing it
So I spent the next hour or so playing Connect 4 and 'exploding kittens' with Ben. Then I set up the laptop and he started to wind down by watching a new Thumbelina DVD and I went on my phone and had a gloat on twitter about how good my Monday was going.
Surely it wouldn't be a case of 'Family holiday .....ruined by family'
Narrator: He never learns, does he?
Thumbelina is now over. (It's amazing how time flies when you are gloating, I mean, mmm having fun). The 'bedtime deal' had been done well in advance. I've learnt that you never start negotiations at this hour and so talks were concluded well before the film began. #smartdaddypoppins
The Bedtime Deal:
Once the film over Ben is due to go upstairs to bed (that's the downstairs part of the deal, in its entirety). So as I said, the film is now over and I'm readying myself for the typical 'bed time stalling tactics' (I don't want to undermine anyone else's 'bed time deals' but in our family they generally aren't worth the paper they are written on).
Then suddenly and without prompting Ben jumps up and starts moving for bed.
No "I'm hungry".
....He's actually ready to go. What is going on? Is this my child?
'Sush!! Don't jinx it', I think.
Narrator: it's too late for that Daddy Poppins...way too late
I follow him upstairs and do the bedtime story thing and Mama Bear is signed up to do an 'after story foot rub'. (He's some top notch 'go to bed deal' negotiator is our Ben).
Fresh prince of Wicklow theme song:
Now this is the story all about how
My night got flipped, turned upside down
And I'd like to take a minute just sit right back
I'll tell you how this night became a pain in the sack
In south east Wicklow is where we stayed
In the soft play area is where we ended up spending most of our days
The plan of; Chilling out, maxing, relaxing by the river
And playing happy family games never really delivered.
When a couple of kids went out of their way
Started making trouble on our holiday.
I got insanely bloody stressed and the Bear got mad
And said to the kids "you're going to kill your Mum and Dad"
I'd like to take a minute just sit right there
till you're nodding in agreement saying... 'its just not fair"
So there I am: sitting by the fire, thinking wonderful 'kids are all in bed, beer in hand' holiday type thoughts and then I become aware of a sound in the adjacent living area. The kind of 'running around' sound you'd associate with ......
an overtired, soon to be 7 year old who's decided it isn't actually time for bed.
The Bear comes back from 'foot rub time' looking pretty exasperated. In the background I see my suspicions are confirmed, there is Ben, running round in circles; across the hallway, through the archway into the kitchen (out of sight), then reappearing back through the opposite archway from the utility into the hallway. And repeat. Again and again and again.
It appears the bedtime deal has been reneged upon at the last minute and Ben is doing his best 'Father Fintan Stack impression'
Why?, What?, How?
Here's the point as a parent you ask the Whys?
- Why does my child gain a new lease of life at bedtime?
- Why is he downstairs in fact?
- Why is he running round in circles?
- Why are my kids nocturnal?
- Why did I think I would have a relaxing family holiday?
Then it moves onto the Whats?
- What the hell happened to the child that went to bed on time?
- What happened in between walking up the stairs with droopy eyes and a bedtime plan and now?
- What the F did I do to to deserve this?
- What kind of idiot thinks a family holiday with be in anyway Relaxing? (this seems to be a recurring theme)
Round and round he goes. There's no stopping him. Like a 'Nocturnal Duracell Bunny' then, at around 1:30 there was finally a sign of slowing (maybe was one of the inferior brands bunnies after all!) and so we pounced at the opportunity and finally he went to sleep.
"Have another kid", they said.
"One looks after the other", they said.
That's what honest parents would have said. (The kind of parents that don't pretend their kids sleep soundly through the night. The kind of parents that don't lie to your face about how easy bedtime is).
What's your immediate thought when other parents tell you how well their kids sleep?— DaddyPoppins (@DaddyPoppinsBlg) December 15, 2016
So Ben's asleep and like clockwork the baby monitor lights up and I hear the rumblings of Bella deciding it's morning time. When it hasn't even been night time yet!!
Go go go!! I grab the bottle and quickly and as stealthily as possible in a strange house I make my way to her cot, wincing at every creaking floorboard.
'Please God stay asleep', I think as I carefully give her a new bottle and position her with the same level of skill and steadiness as a veteran safe cracker.
I sneak back downstairs on my tippy toes (with my fingers crossed) avoiding the troublesome floorboards I unwittingly found on the way up. She appears to be settled. Phew!! That was a close one.
So we have 15-20 minutes of peace and quiet and then off to bed we go.
Then we hit 'the Who's?' Section of the night.
- Who has designed the house so we have to open the creaky door and creep past the cot to get to our own room?
- Who could be that evil?
We both sneak by her and undress and slowly lower ourselves into bed. Ah. Thanks be to God. No movement from the cot. Nothing. Well, until my head touches the pillow. That is.
"Sod's law!!" I mutter as Bella looks around her and wakes with a shock as she doesn't recognise where she is.
Here comes the biggest Who of them all.........
- Who is going to get up with her?
It's Your turn
No, its Your turn!!
I'll do the morning if you do now.
No it's your turn but I'll advise you condescendingly from the comfort of the bed
(the last sentence wasn't said, just interpreted that way)
I don't even like you (something like this was actually said)
Feeling is f'in mutual (yup, you guessed it..... Said)
At this point our stress levels are through the roof
"Thought this was supposed to be 'relaxing'!", I say aloud.
In retrospect 'It's become hell on earth ever since I rewrote the fresh prince song'
(Note to self: don't mess with the classics)
(Another note to self: don't try cram extra words into the middle of a song to make it work)
The relaxing river noise instead of de-stressing me is now just making me want to have a pee.
We spend the next hour or so taking her into the bed. Watching nursery rhymes on YouTube on our phones and trying her back in the cot to no avail.
So eventually I admit defeat and get up with the little one. I go downstairs with her in my arms. We're both knackered. We walk around the same circle of the house that Ben did a few hours previously for the next hour or so. I think she finally went back to sleep around 3:20.
Once I was sure she was actually asleep I got back into bed.
Then there's a blank bit. I must have been asleep. But it seems more like when a scratched DVD skips forward a scene and you're just missing a bit of the movie. I didn't seem to get any benefit from these missing hours. Nevertheless, the clock seems have jumped forward 3 hours when I awake with a shock as I can sense something beside me.
Standing right there is the boy (like one of the creepy kids from children of the corn, I know ....I'm old) "I've had an accident", he says.
So, it seems I was right about the river making you need to pee.
I've had about 3 hours 'unconsciousness, rather than sleep' time.
Now I need to get one child in a bath and back in bed without waking the other.
'Bear, where's the bath in this place?'
"Right next to Bella's cot"
So it's 6:46am. Both my babies are now awake.
One in the bath that went from roasting to cold during the fill up with no other hot water to sort out the issue. The other singing and screaming and jumping up and down.
God I need some sleep.
Here come the How's!!
- How did I end up in this position?
- How did I not realise that the river would make him pee?
- How did I ever think this would be relaxing fun?
Once the bath is done the kids and I head downstairs for cartoons on the laptop. Ben was right. God I wish there was a TV!! The kids are at each others throats as Bella keeps banging the laptop keys and turning off the screen.
I do the only thing I can at such a time...... Make the biggest strongest cup of coffee in the world and sit back and wait for reinforcements.
So a few hours (and a few cups of coffee) later reinforcements arrive in the shape of the Bear, I can head back to bed.
But I'm so full of coffee that I can't sleep!! (Relaxing.......hmmm)
I eventually drop off and am awoken by the screams of Bella, who's decided to test the density of a 100 plus year old stone wall with her forehead. She hasn't fallen or anything, just decided to check out what it would be like to headbutt it.
So that's where I'll leave it for the moment.
At this point my outlook on family holidays had changed a little from the bliss of early the night before.
Heres my day 2 thoughts:
there is no way to have a relaxing holiday with kids
deal with it
make the best of what you've got
What is your experience of holidaying with kids?
Whats the most stressful/funniest thing to have happened to you on a family holiday?
Do you agree with Daddy Poppins day 2 assessment?
Let me know in the comments