5 things going on holiday as a parent is NOT

family holiday

Ahhhh going on holidays with the kids. You envision glorious happy moments of discovery, wonder, adventure and family unity. But the sad truth is, where once upon a time a holiday meant getting AWAY from the stress, now it means literally throwing yourself INTO THE FIRE of the stress.

Yes, because it seems that your definition of holiday is HUGELY different to that when a child is in tow (where the word holiday seems to shockingly be missing from the phrase “going on holiday”). No wonder then that most parents find going on holiday MORE stressful than going to work. WTF!!! If someone had told me this pre kids I’d be like – holy moly, are you CRAZY?! But no, they are absolutely right. Being on holiday with a child, particularly a toddler as in my case, is the same endless slave labour – but just in another country. No wonder one in four parents say they don’t take a family holiday because they are so stressful.

As I sit here having been given a “day off” on what is supposed to be a “holiday” (go figure), I am contemplating that whatever going on holiday with a child is – this is what it is not:

1. Relaxing

No actually, it is the absolute polar opposite, because rather than being able to kick back and do less, you have to amp up the activity stakes, chasing your crazy selves round every god damn tourist site and attraction on a daily basis just so you feel every single hour of your holiday day with some so called “adventure” of another.

2. Fun

Unless your idea of forfeiting anything that YOU might actually want to do and living every single holiday moment for your kids is your idea of fun (read: chasing an over-excitable toddler round a zoo,  wondering around with an ice cream dripping all over your clothes because they don’t want to hold it, being holed up in the children’s play area at the museum and seeing zero of the rest of its collections) then a holiday is essentially the absolute opposite of fun for a parent.

3. Confidence-inducing

You know those times when you nod your head and think, yeah! I didn’t do such a bad job with my kids after all. Nope, none of that on holiday. Instead lots of dying of total mortification as you note how well behaved the native children in your country of choice are compared to your own child who looks like they have drunk about ten cans on Coca Cola and downed five packs of sugar infested sweets. Total parenting confidence shattered in one fell swoop.

4. Romantic

See this picture here?

family holiday stress

This might look like a lovely picture of two parents sharing a moment whilst their child looks on, but what somebody forgot to add on to this photo which would show the REAL picture is a speech bubble with the said child WHINING ENDLESSY at the top of their voice and the moment is ruined forever more.

5. Whatever you thought it was going to be

I’m telling you this now, whatever dreamy, airy fairy vision you have of going on holiday with your child is, unless they are just a baby who just sits there and coos the entire duration or are an angel in disguise, then the only way to survive a family holiday and not end up filing for a divorce from your significant other and sproglets is LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS NOW! This one comes with a massive ***WARNING*** sign slapped across it.

I blame those blasted holiday brochures who have tricked us into thinking a week away will leave us all bouncing around in unparalleled delight and familial unity. It might be a “holiday”, but it sure as hell ain’t an escape.

***Did this tickle you? Please go on and Stumble, Tweet or FB share it! It’ll make me so happy, you know!***


  1. oh yes! Holidays are sooo different from the romantic fantasy I had in my head pre-kids.

    There came a relatively sweet spot when mine were about 8 and 9 – Old enough to entertain themselves on the beach, young enough to think an ice cream was a good deal in return for hanging out in a pleasant spot while mum & dad had a couple of glasses of wine. My husband and I got a bit carried away at that point and made wonderful plans for where we could take our beloved children before they left home.

    A few years on and my son doesn’t want to go anywhere without wifi (we are such cruel parents forcing him to go on holiday) and my daughter raises her eyebrows as soon as the first sip of wine passes our lips saying, “Oh God you’re DRINKING. Now I won’t have ANYONE to talk to.” ‘Such fun!’ as Miranda would say. 😀

  2. It may be stressful for the parent but I remember my childhood holidays with great fondness. I may live to regret saying when my baby turns toddler but I’m looking forward to the holidays!! Lol!

  3. STOP IT! We are going on holiday – for one week only, I might add: the only hol we are having all year – mid-May and I am so excited I can’t stop clenching my fist in my teeth when I think about it. I refuse to consider the fact it might not be Mr & Mrs Smith brochure perfect. Surely in those pictures there is a 2yr old hiding in the shade with a tray of ice cold drinks, ready to hand me my towel? No? Oh. Brill post as always, lovely. #coolmumclub

  4. God yes! So painfully true. Every. Single. Point. The subtext of the picture for number 4 would most probably be “But I wanted a blue ball waaaaaaaahhhhhh!!!” The parents are actually trying to restrain each other from leaping into the sea – just for a rest. 😉

    Fab post as always. Thanks for hosting #coolmumclub x

  5. Oh this is too funny and I wholeheartedly agree! I would like to say it gets better but having just been on holiday with my 3 teens and they spent the entire bloody holiday wanting to find the best spots for wi-fi (trust me I would rather have spent the money on a Chanel bag and I have written a post to those exact words!) I’m not sure I can! Though there is probably a lovely bit in the middle – say 6-10 and then that’s it, bubble over and back to stress! Great read though #coolmumclub

  6. Holidays are definitely not what they were before children and definitely good advice to lower your expectations! We’ve only been abroad once with the girls (Jessica can’t fly due to her heart condition) and it wasn’t too bad – they were little enough that they mostly slept through a lot of the driving and CBeebies on the iPad kept them amused the rest of the time. We deliberately didn’t try to achieve too much in a day which made a big difference and on the whole, we all enjoyed it. #coolmumclub

  7. This is just SO true! I think the only real plus about booking a holiday with kids is that you know your other half is going to be there to ‘help’ you for a certain amount of time, which is as close to a holiday as I can get these days! The days of reading 5 novels in one week are over… 🙁
    Great post, thanks for hosting #coolmumclub

  8. Visiting from #coolmumclub

    This was me winter 2015 – we went away and it was alright, but I couldn’t wait to get back and return to our routine. And my youngest at the time was 3.5 so we didn’t even have diapers and naps to worry about. It’s not nearly as “fun” when you have to watch little people all the time. I mean you can’t really take advantage of the “all-inclusive” if you know what I mean…

  9. Ha ha…we have done one holiday abroad and lets just say it was a far cry from holidays we were used to! My advice is ditch your expectations and aim for making the kids happy – if they’re happy, entertained, having fun, then you have a better chance of being so too!
    (Kiss cocktails by the spa goodbye)

  10. Oh yes! I totes agree, family holidays (with small kids) don’t have much to do with actually having a break or a relaxing time, but you are making memories for the children! 😉 – But that doesn’t stop you feeling like you need a holiday more than ever once you get back! Top tip: convince nanny and grandad to come along too so that they can take over the child care for a bit allowing mummy and daddy a bit of peace and some down time. We did this and snuck off for a half day spa, it was bliss. x #coolmumclub

  11. Hahaha I LOVE this! We’ve only taken little trips with our son and this summer we are taking a major trip and now I’m terrified…thanks for that :p. Hey at least I know what I’m up against now! Thanks for the insight! #coommumclub

  12. I haven’t actually read a book on a sunlounger in 10 years! I do love family holidays though but relaxING is definitely not a key word. #coolmumclub lifeinthemumslane

  13. hahaha reading this and I was yep…yep…oh yes, been there done that got the crummy touristy T-shirt. We went on a holiday abroad, once with just our eldest and I was pregnant with my youngest- not a pleasant experience, eldest had had his MMR jabs two weeks before and he turned into an evil devil child at night. Second time we went with both boys (2 and 4 months) not as bad but because we kept to their routine for sanity’s sake our child free moments were half and hour here and there on the terrace as the boys napped – this was usually at the hottest time of the day aswell!!

    Now we just go to Center Parcs, much more enjoyable in a sense – off next week for some and frolicks in the subtropical paradise :-/ one day we will go on a real holiday again. x x x

  14. SO true! Last year was our first as a family of six. Our tyre blew on the drive down south, someone smashed our windscreen at our over night stop off point, we spent 5 out of the 10 days in hospital with two separate children, three of the four developed hand foot and mouth, one was bitten by a spider and had a massive allergic reaction and we locked ourselves out of our apartment four times in a week. It rained most days, the resort was run down and dirty, the kids screamed and cried the entire time and we came home swearing that we would never have a family holiday again. We’ve now booked to go again in July, god help us!!! #coolmumclub

  15. I can relate to this. I went solo travelling with my little one just before he was two. People were asking me, how was it when I came back… I didn’t even know how to describe it! He’s calmed down a tad now but I literally took him away at his most difficult stage (to date) and it was sooooo exhausting! #coolmumclub

  16. Haha! You do make me laugh. What is that picture about? As if any real parents holiday would ever involve that perfect moment. No. Holidays are fun but it’s a different fun, not fun how we used to know but fun for the kids. Holidays are not what we once knew. They can be soul destroying. Low expectations from the start and you can only be pleasantly surprised! Thanks for hosting x

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