We recently took a family holiday to Center Parcs, to celebrate my mum’s 70th birthday. It’s the first time we’d all been away together. There are 13 of us – aged between 3 and 73. There’s my mum and dad, myself, my brother and my sister, our other halves and five kids – my three and my sister’s two. I wondered how it would work out, as we’ve never spent that much time together before.
We’ve been on holiday with my parents a lot with the kids, although not much in recent years. We’ve been on holiday with my sister and her husband a couple of times, before they had their kids. And my brother and his partner have visited us on holiday for a few days, but going back many years to when my kids were pretty small.
Generally, I see my parents a couple of times a week and my sister and her family once a week. We all get on very well, but we’re rarely together for much more than an hour. We see my brother only a few times a year – usually on birthdays and at Christmas, and we see his partner even less.
So how would we all get on with a family holiday?
I’ll admit I was slightly nervous. I was nervous because teenagers can be a pain in the bum, as can little ones (my niece and nephew are 5 and 3). And of course teenagers are a pain in the bum in a very different way to small children. They want to do different things and they haven’t different needs in terms of bedtimes etc. Then there’s my brother and his partner who aren’t used to kids. What would they think of teenage sulks and little ones’ tantrums?
I really, really wanted the family holiday to work out. Because this was my mum’s birthday, her special treat. It’s something we will probably never do again. And I also wanted it to work out for my daughter, who loves Center Parcs and had been looking forward to this holiday for months. She’d built it up so much that I didn’t want her to be disappointed.
I needn’t have worried. The family holiday went brilliantly.
We spent a lot of time together, but not every minute. Both the teenagers and the little ones behaved themselves. There was enough for them to do and enough people for them to talk to that they didn’t need to get bored.
My sister’s family shared a lodge with my parents and we shared with my brother and his partner. My brother has always got on well with my eldest, but doesn’t know my other kids as well. It was great for him and his partner to get to know them. Both my daughter and my niece had always felt slightly intimidated by him because he’s big and loud. But in those few days my daughter learned that he also has the best (and naughtiest) sense of humour and a very kind heart.
For me, one of the highlights of the holiday was watching my daughter head off to the swimming pool with just my brother and his partner. No parents, no grandparents, no brothers. She would never have believed she would go to the swimming pool with her scary uncle and the auntie that she barely knows. I could see just how much my brother’s partner enjoyed talking to my daughter. I would imagine that for a childless woman, a 12 year old girl is very nice to talk to – they’re not stroppy teenagers or sulking toddlers, they can be grown up and you can have a decent conversation with them and a lot of women relate to girls better than boys.
I absolutely loved our family holiday and so did everyone else. I don’t know if we will be able to do it again, but I really hope we can.
As we sat in a restaurant and celebrated my mum’s birthday, my mum asked that when we’re all older and she and my dad are gone, that my sister and I make sure we include my brother in our family celebrations. I’m going to remember that and make sure we do. We’ve created more of a bond now and I really hope we can keep it.