Tuesday, 3 July 2012

What kind of holiday are you having?

Aah the Road Trip.  With Tiny Weeny Kids.  Less fun than it looks. 
Everyone treats school holidays differently.  Depending on the time of year, the bank balance and the energy levels, I find every school holidays is a new adventure.

For your convenience I have managed to isolate a few genres of school holidays and summarised them below.  Perhaps you have experienced any or all of these.  If so, I'd love to hear from you.

I know I've tried all of them with varying levels of success.  I don't think I'm ever going to get it 100% right.

1. The 'Just Let It All Hang Out' School Holiday

This is where you go completely organic, plan nothing, wait and see, don't book anyone into tennis/rugby/netball camp or art/drama/dance workshop because you just want to spend time with them and let them rest, it's been such a busy term.

This can go either way, after a few days you either kill each other or find a new level of happiness together and cheerfully sit about in pjs until late morning before sauntering to the park or beach or the occasional movie.  Most kids, though tired and glad to be away from the structure of term, get a bit antsy without having a plan after a couple of days.  Or is that just mine?

Works best in: Summer.

My experience: Has never worked for me.

2. The 'Let's Get The Hell Out Of Here' School Holiday

Escape the every day, empty your bank account and get the hell out.

Most people (including us) can't do this every year (or even every second year) but it's worth it if you can get out of the winter cold to somewhere like Thailand or Fiji (or Queensland!) without bankrupting yourself or going mad on the flight.  We have never taken the kids on long haul flights.  Because we know quite a few people who are obliged to travel to the UK/Europe every year or so to visit grandparents etc, the staring, frightened look they get when they talk about the long haul flights has put us off, especially as we don't have the bonus of free accommodation and babysitting by doting relatives at the other end.

Plus most deals are for 2 adults and 2 kids.  A lot of accommodation is the same.  And we really do need to take Issy with us.

Works best in: Winter, although, The Whitsundays are not at warm as you would think in July.  Unless you're bonkers (or under 10), you won't be doing much swimming, that's for sure.

Our experience: Even though we haven't done it very often, thanks to a lack of funding and a pressing need to renovate, this one has much to recommend it.  

It is severely limited by affordability, unless you are the family in the Imperial Leather Soap Ad.  

Note:  If you're really wanting to go all out, there's the huge family European or American odyssey taken over the Xmas holidays.  A rare animal, seldom undertaken more than once, which, if you are lucky enough to be able to afford it, and clear minded enough to organise, will cause your friends to hate you and talk meanly about you behind your back. Jealousy is a dreadful thing.

3. The 'Let's Book These Kids Up So Much They Need Another Holiday' School Holiday

I am most guilty of this one. It can creep up on you too, so watch out.

It starts when someone emails quite a few weeks before holidays start and suggests booking the kids into some type of workshop, camp, intensive...thing.  It sounds good, so you book it.

Another friend suggests visiting them for a day at their holiday house/caravan.  Sounds good, so you book it.

After school care put out their brochure.  A couple of days look good, so you find the kids some willing friends, and book it.

Someone asks if you can have their kids for the day one week and they'll return the favour the following week.  You say yes.

Before you know know it, 10 days of holidays are entirely booked out.  So when a friend you haven't seen for weeks suggests a spontaneous meet up in the park one morning, you can't go.  Well you can go, but the kids can't.  Cause they're not there.  Spontaneity is dead.  And you're all exhausted.

Upside: It can be fun.  And the kids love all the time catching up with friends outside of normal school hours.

Works best in: Winter and the last two weeks of January when everyone has been refreshed by four weeks off and are getting a bit sick of each other.

4. The 'Oh My God Is It Really The Holiday's' Holiday

You wake up on the first day of holidays, and when you attempt to force your children into school uniforms they refuse, citing holidays.  You check the calendar several times and ring a friend to check, discovering, it is in fact true, and they are all yours for two blessed weeks.  (plus one f**king teacher enrichment/development day).

It's raining.  The kids watch 10 hours of TV in a row, because you're still in shock.  Everyone is still in their pjs at 4pm.

You ring around a few camps/workshops, but can't get the kids in anywhere, cause the activities are all full.  Except for tennis camp which is cancelled, because it's raining.

Everyone you know is away camping with friends.  No one has invited you camping.  You feel neglected and lonely for 5 minutes before realising you hate camping and would have said no anyway.

Did I mention it's raining.  Sucked in to the campers.

By day 4, all the campers have come back early because it's still raining.  You organise a few play dates and a trip to the movies.  You go bowling and play a lot of board games.

It's actually not so bad (sort of) and you survive...just.

Most likely to be: Easter because didn't everyone just go back to school, it can't be holidays again?  Plus, Easter moves around so you never quite know when it's coming.  And that's when everyone seems to go camping.  And it always rains.

Speaking of rainy holidays, how about the one where the Brisbane Floods nearly ate my Mum's house and we had to evacuate. 

5. And The 'It's Only Half-way Through The Term But Lets Be Really Organised And Book Lots Of Stuff So We Don't Miss Out Holiday'

This one often comes directly after number 4, because you were so traumatised by waking up every morning and being asked what the day held and saying 'nothing' and hearing them all groan in unison.

This is where you book yourself stupid but in a planned way, not randomly like number 3.

By the end of it, you realise that you've just made lunches every day like you would if school was on.  And the kids have been rushed out of the house just like school but often to three different places because one goes to sports, one to art and one to tennis.  Or gym, rugby and dance.  Your car pools have hit new heights of complexity.  And you realise what you really need is some BALANCE (or Gin).

6.  And finally, the 'I'm So Sick Of My husband not being willing/able to take holidays because he's So Busy And Important/Used Them All Up/Frightened Of Being Perceived As A Big Slacker By His Workaholic Colleagues, That I'm Taking The Kids Somewhere, Anywhere, Because There's Got To Be Somewhere Better Than Here, Or At Least Different To Here' School Holiday.

Even though it means same s**t, different location, with no husband to help.  And the kids miss him, and you miss him.  

One lucky mum I know has really taken this one to heart, and swept her kids off to a tropical island just north of Australia (it rhymes with Bali) where her parents own a villa, to stay for three weeks, with butler, cook, maid and private pool.  And they invited another family to join them.  But not us.

No, instead of Bali, we chose Brisbane.  Yes Brisbane.  Because that's where MY Mum has a house (that she like, lives in).
When we went to Melbourne last year we found a submarine buried in the ground.  Weird hey? 
Then we found a dog, on a tuckerbox
The kids and I are going by Mazda.  Just the four of us.  The DVD player for the car is coming too.  I will make them turn it off and talk to me occasionally.  So we can BOND.

So we will visit my dear old Mum, Mike's lovely folks and sister and a few old friends.  We won't go mad catching up with people, because then it turns into a Brisbane based version of School Holiday Number 3.  But it means there are some lovely old friends we hardly ever see.  

The car boot was chockas when we went to Melbourne, and we only went for four days.  I am a hopeless overpacker.
Wish me luck.  Blogging may be intermittent, but I hope to keep up my standards.

BTW I just thought of another couple of good ones:

The Holiday Where The Kids Get So Sick They Can't Leave The House Creating An Infested Germ House of Bacteria And Body Fluids That You Can Neither Invite Anyone To, Nor Escape From.

This normally lasts exactly two weeks.  Voila.

And the slightly related:

Holiday Where One Child Falls Out Of A Tree/Off His Or Her Scooter On Day One, Rendering All Plans Void And Adding Many Many Trips To Specialists And Hospitals Into The Holiday Mix.

This one is most likely to occur on the first day of the December holidays for max inconvenience and whinging.

This list is not exhaustive.  But I am exhausted.  And it's only day 1.