Going on holiday isn’t easy. There’s a lot of preparation to do. My husband thinks it’s easy. You just pack your clothes, don’t you? But somebody has to make sure those clothes are washed, dried and ready. And that somebody isn’t him or the kids.
Nobody thinks about the toiletries, the first aid kit, the snacks and drinks to get us through the journey and the first day until we’ve located a shop…
At least it’s easier now than it used to be with babies and toddlers, thank goodness. There’s no nappies and wipes, no high chairs and travel cots. But it’s still a lot of work.
Thankfully, the kids now get their own clothes ready. My daughter meticulously works out enough outfits for every day, matching things up properly. My younger son merely counts out the correct number of T-shirts and pants. He doesn’t even choose his favourites. He just picks the ones at the top of the drawer.
(When we went to Padstow, I learned not to joke about the pants and T-shirts. I said to him ‘Have you packed your pants and T-shirts?’, meaning ‘Have you packed all your things?’. But he didn’t understand that. So he went away with one pair of trousers, one pair of shorts, neither of which were particularly clean, and no running kit. When we were getting ready for Eden Project parkrun, he said ‘Have you got my running things?’. No, I didn’t have his running things, because he was responsible for his own packing. But I had made the schoolgirl error of replacing the word ‘packing’ with ‘pants and Tshirts’ because I thought it was funny. And it just made his forget stuff.)
But you can still be sure I will be getting out of bed in a panic on the night before we set off because I’ve forgotten to pack my daughter’s medication. Or because we don’t have enough biscuits. (You think toddlers need a lot of snacks? Wait until you have teenagers!)
Getting ready for holiday is a bit like getting ready for Christmas. There’s only one person who has any idea how much work it actually takes. And only one person who actually does most of that work. And all of this has to be balanced with an already busy life. I have to work. I have to look after the kids (although with teenagers, that does mainly mean ‘drive them around at a few seconds’ notice’). I have to do the regular chores around the house. Getting ready for holiday is HARD.
Add to this, my general nervousness about holidays and sometimes I wonder if it’s worth it. I am a worrier. I worry about travelling. I worry about flying. I worry about not being able to get food and drink when we need them. I worry about people being ill when we are away from home.
My mum doesn’t help. She doesn’t really go on holidays any more and she knows how stressful it can be. She’s the first to say: ‘Is it really worth it?’. Now I know I’m thinking that myself, but having someone else say it doesn’t actually help! It puts me in more of a negative mind frame.
Then when we’ve come home from holiday, there’s all the washing. Five or six loads of it. If we’re lucky, the weather will be good and I can at least get it out on the line. But there’s never going to be room for five or six loads in one day. In the meantime, once we get home, we’re still building up more dirty clothes. And there will be the last few things we wore before we went away too. It can literally take a week to get it all under control. That’s longer than we were actually in Nice for this summer.
But, here’s the thing. Despite my days of stress, it is worth it. It is totally worth it. I might not relax until the flight/ journey is over, we have checked in and our room is stocked with drinks and snacks, but I do relax in the end. When you have busy lives like we do, holidays are really important for unwinding and getting away from reality and just spending time together.
We might have only had two short holidays this year – five nights in Nice and three nights in Padstow, but we really enjoyed them. And, come next year, I will be putting myself through all the stress all over again. Because going on holiday is always worth it.