Monday, 19 March 2018
Latest Issue


August 2017

Holidays. This is what it’s all about.

Kerry Thomson offers some wise words of parental advice on making the most of your family summer break...

“We can unscrew the whole thing at the base by lifting up the floor tiles. Or grease his head and thread him through his own legs. Shall we try that first?” It was 1985, I was about six, my brother a little younger, and it was the first day of the school holidays. Eight weeks for adventure, relaxation and family time. Or, getting your head jammed while swinging monkey-style in a revolving turnstile at the entrance to a well-known shopping centre.

What better way to start the summer wind-down than a call to the local fire brigade to try and untangle a tot from a turnstile? I seem to remember most supermarkets used to have them at the entrance (why, I’m not sure – was a stampede for Cremola Foam more likely in the eighties?) I remember thinking it was hilarious. Fast forward 32 years and with children a similar age myself, I can now see how stressful it would have been for my poor mum and how easily these things happen.

You're in that end-of-term daze, slightly distracted, tired, wired and before you know it you’re on a plane, miles from home and the youngest is fending off burglars, heating up door knobs and snarling ‘keep the change you filthy animal’ at the pizza delivery man. You really do need to have eyes in the back of your head. Or your head in the back of your thighs, as per my brother’s acrobatic antics.

As I write this, I’ve two more days in the office before we head off for what I hope will be a relaxing family holiday in Italy. Haaaahaaaaaaa I hear you chuckle. Has she been abroad with young children? Call me cautiously optimistic but having packed the 32 pieces of hand luggage required for a week away, sacrificed the requisite mortgage repayment to allow us all to have, imagine , an allocated SEAT on my budget airline of choice, now I think we are almost set for a week in the sun. Here’s what I need to remember…

Keep your expectations realistic. Notice I don’t say ‘low’. This is your holiday too! You're going to relax, lie by the pool, paint toenails, drink Mojitos while lazily reading that Pulitzer-Prize novel. This is the week to sport artisan jewellery draped over a caramel tan acquired over long days under warm rays. You deserve a break. Much has happened that you and your partner need to catch up on. Brexit, Trump - Celebrity Love Island. It’s time to recharge, be mindful and just breathe. It. All. In.
This. This is exactly the sort of silliness that will ruin your holiday.

Aim for three to four pages of the in-flight magazine (I recommend the snacks and drinks section), a warm Fruit Shoot as an emergency mixer quaffed in the spare seven minutes you have between everyone going to bed and everyone waking back up because they’re too hot. Try to snooze-by-stealth while lying on the tile floor to cool the sunburn you’ve acquired despite plastering everyone else in a factor so high they could travel to the sun, in swimwear, unscathed.

Love the skin you’re in. Instagram helpfully tells me: ‘Summer bodies are made in winter.” Unfortunately, I did not pay a great deal of attention to this last December. I was wrapped in a warm blanket of denial and Parma ham. I am more of a believer in ‘Work with what you’ve got’ (please refer to point one above on ‘resourceful use of Fruit Shoot in emergency holiday mini-bar situations’). This is not the time to experiment with playsuits, rattan hats and cut-out costumes in neon – no matter how good he looks in them. You are not 18 anymore (and if I could go back and tell that 18-year-old me one thing, it would without question be: “This is seriously as good as it gets, you look awesome, wear the bikini!”).

In seriousness, the parental holiday wardrobe does require a unique blend of action-wear meets beach chic, you need roll-able, lightweight casuals in breathable fabric that wash well. Or three vest tops and a pair of cut-off jeans. Whichever is easiest…

Leave tablets at home. Don’t be ridiculous, you can’t do this without at least one of you medicated. I’m joking. It’s vitally important to limit screen time. It not only helps fire the imagination but encourages meaningful conversation, time to bond without the warm comforting glow of an open iPad, I mean the distracting glare of your device.

There's an episode of Peppa Pig where Peppa and family go to Italy. Basically Daddy Pig gets annoyed at the heat, everyone is a bit over-tired, all the piglets eat for seven days is pizza while Mummy Pig rushes about moderately harassed. This screened animation will bear no resemblance to your own Italian adventure… And as any seasoned Peppa viewer knows (yep, still can’t drop off your wine bottles on a Sunday morning without involuntarily humming ‘Recycle recycle recycle, tin caaaaans, newssssspapers…’) there are more episodes of Peppa than House of Cards. Even at three series in, the relationships, subterfuge and identity crises are almost as complex in the latter as the former. So limiting screen time is probably a very good thing for everyone.

Whatever you get up to this summer – I hope you have fun. Get out there together, coat them in sunscreen and let them roll in the sand like sugared donuts. Eat ice cream ‘til you’re sick and enjoy the odd stealth-snooze if you can. These days with our babies really are the best ones. This is what it’s all about. Oh, and my brother is fine now by the way, just a slight mark behind both ears…

Your Comments

  • Coffee & Catch Up with Kate Quilton

    BAFTA-winning TV presenter Kate co-hosts the successful Channel 4 show Food Unwrapped which explores the scientific research behind certain food myths. More..

  • A Little Bit Elfish

    Kerry Thomson is writing her own letter to Santa this year... More..

  • Learning To Fly…

    Kerry Thomson shares a sentiment for starting big school... More..

  • Dazzling Dads

    A ‘dazzle’. That’s what you call a large group of zebras. We have thirty of them, which I’m confident counts as a ‘Dazzle’, perched on the kitchen worktops, legs akimbo... More..

  • Happiness Advice - From One Mum To Another

    Author Natalie Savvides has been called ‘the real Bridget Jones’ on many occasions and her past life experiences have inspired her mission to help every girl, teenager and woman feel less alone, and happier... More..

  • Go, and love yourself.

    Kerry Thomson discovers, in the most romantic city in the world, that as much as you can LOVE being a mum, you also have to remember to LOVE yourself on occasion too! More..

Download boredom busting activity sheets here

Web design and development by Creative Online Media, Belfast. Copyright 2007-2008. All rights reserved.

This page is valid XHTML 1.0 Strict, CSS