Going on holiday isn’t the same these days, especially when three children under the age of three are involved. I’m not saying they aren’t enjoyable, we’ve just had the best time; but they are certainly different and we’ve had to adjust how we do things.
Gone are the days of all day drinking by the pool, reading my favourite novel with little else to think about other than what I’m going to eat next. Yes we still enjoy a drink or three during the day, but there are little people to look after now, and that means staying coherent at the very least.
We’ve just returned from 5 days at Bluestone and had a fantastic time. It was our first holiday as a family of five. We’ve travelled with Immy before to Majorca, Centre Parcs and Vancouver, but adding an extra two to the mix has certainly changed the dynamic, and made us aware we are definitely outnumbered.
I’ll add here that Bluestone is a fab place for a family holiday with young children. It was our first visit and there was so much to do even with the restrictions in place to keep everyone safe. It’s designed with children in mind, and the lodges have everything you need for young children, including stair gates. We didn’t need to book any additional activities for our three as they were happy with the swimming, multiple play areas, and the amazing Christmas displays they have around this time of year. It really got us into the festive spirit and we will definitely be returning.
Packing turned out to be the easy part of our trip. We just thought about a usual day at home and packed everything we usually use. I thought there was a washing machine at Bluestone so I packed lightly, thinking I would wash anything we needed, as our brood can get through a washing load full in one day. It turns out there wasn’t one though and you know what, we had more than enough clothes. I’m terrible for over packing, but this taught me that you really don’t need as much as you think, so pack lightly! We also decided to take a travel pushchair for Immy, which we were going to sell, and thank goodness we did take it. She hasn’t used a pushchair since the twins were born as there wasn’t enough space for her, but it was a lifesaver to save her little legs when we walked for miles each day and it pretty much rained for 5 days straight. Thankfully she got in it – we may have bribed her a few times with chocolate buttons.
The trip there was pretty easy as we are only an hour and 45 minutes away. We had to stop for Immy to take a poo with a view on the potty, but apart from that it was easy. We had planned to go abroad this year with them all but for reasons we all know, that didn’t happen. That will be our next adventure as soon as we can – I can’t even imagine what a flight will be like with the three of them.
Despite being fully aware that going away with children changes things, a little piece of us still clung on to the idea that we could spend all day out and about, and have later evening meals. That might be a reality for lots of families with children, and I’ve seen them myself on holiday pre-kids…but for us it just wasn’t meant to be and would end in carnage. We pictured all three taking their afternoon nap in their pushchairs whilst we enjoyed a bevvy at the pub, and evening meals with the twins sleeping and just letting Immy stay up late. Did that happen? Nope, not even once!
The twins napped wherever during the day, and we tried to keep Immy awake but she was running around and burning so much energy that by her usual nap time she was crying and asking to go to bed. So we spent a couple of hours back in the lodge each day, which to be fair was quite nice.
As for the evenings, it turns out that Tabby and Wilf hated being in the pushchair in the dark. I can only put this down to the fact they have never been out in the evenings as they have spent most of their life in various forms of lockdown. We used to take Immy to the pub with us, but for the twins that hasn’t been possible. So we ate dinner out early and were back in the lodge ready for them to be in bed at their usual time – how rock and roll.
Meal times were pretty pain free, especially as the twins now eat whatever we eat. They definitely didn’t get their portion of five fruit and veg a day when we were away, but that was more down to us eating out a lot and going for quick fix meals when we cooked in the lodge. Immy lived off cereal bars, pasta and toast so nothing new there. One piece of advice I’d give is to take snacks, and lots of them. We found feeding on the go a lifesaver.
We made sure to bring a few home comforts for them all to settle them into the lodge. Whether they made any difference in reality I don’t know, but they certainly settled in really well. We brought a few toys with us, the twins usual spoons, plates and beakers, and Immy had her own pillow from home.
Going away with children at different ages can be challenging, and I think we did it at just about the right age for the twins. Any later and they wouldn’t be as happy to sit in their pushchair and take things in. They are at that funny age where they want to be moving about, but can’t be let loose in parks etc as they can’t walk yet. If we had left it a month or so later I imagine they would have been very frustrated being pushed around for most of the day, bar the couple of hours free time when Immy napped. We would have still gone away, but we may have had to adapt things slightly. In a few years time I imagine it will be easier as there won’t be a noticeable age gap between them at all.
Swimming was an interesting activity for us as there were different restrictions due to Covid, meaning we had to take all of our belongings poolside and pushchairs had to stay outside. Imagine Ross and I with a twin each, carrying all of our belongings including walking boots in hand, trying to herd Immy into the toddler pool, when all she wanted to do was dive bomb into the big pool and go on the slides. We got a few empathetic looks, but we did it and Tabby and Wilf got to experience swimming for the first time and they loved it. Funnily enough, they have both inherited Immy’s curious and adventurous nature, so we were clinging onto them as they tried to launch themselves into the water, splashing everyone.
One piece of advice I would say to anyone going away with young kids is to expect the unexpected and to be fully aware you may have to change your plans. If you have an itinerary with things you want to get done at certain times, it most likely won’t happen, or at least it won’t happen in the order you planned it to. Be prepared to adapt, rethink and revisit things, and you’ll have a brilliant time.
Going away is certainly different nowadays, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. I definitely wouldn’t say no to a kid free weekend away don’t get me wrong, every parent needs a little break. However the utter chaos, constant laughter, and the look of joy on their little faces as they experienced new things for the first time far outweighs the child free holidays of times past.
Kids really are adaptable things, and any pre holiday fears I had about taking them all away were more than quashed as I watched them bloom and soak up every moment.
Have you been away with young children before and do you have any tips for a stress free trip? Leave your thoughts in the comments.