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Life

The pros and cons of holidays with your children

Words by Rob Chilton and Nathan Irvine

We’ve all seen stressed parents at airports, struggling with suitcases, teddy bears and screaming children. On the other hand, we’ve also seen happy mums and dads eating ice cream on dreamy tropical beaches. Rob Chilton and Nathan Irvine debate the pluses and minuses of going abroad with family in tow.

As confinement continues our thoughts turn to holidays and exploring the world again. But specifically, we’ve been thinking about holidaying with our kids. Is it good? Is it a parent’s nightmare? Is it somewhere in the middle?

EDGAR’s Rob and Nathan make their cases for and against the idea.

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WHY I LOVE HOLIDAYS WITH MY KID

Words by: Rob Chilton

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of family holidays. Playing crazy golf in Scotland, riding a donkey in Hampshire, playing Monopoly in a caravan in Dorset, eating a Cornish pasty on the beach in Devon.

Yes, it was Great Britain and so it was raining most of the time. And freezing cold. And we were trapped in a smelly, damp caravan. But, ahhh, they were golden times.

Years later, now a father, I find a major pleasure of being a parent is taking holidays with my wife and daughter and trying to pass on those kinds of memories (without the hypothermia and wet socks) to my daughter.

Our two-year-old has travelled well in her short time on the planet – Oman, Mauritius, France, Spain, Italy – and, while I know she won’t remember much or any of it, every minute of those holidays have been some of the happiest times of my life.

What a simple pleasure it is to simply sit at the water’s edge on a beach and mess about. I have rediscovered a love for building sandcastles and find it highly satisfying when a perfectly-formed fortress slides out of the bucket with its four turrets intact.

I love offering foreign foods to my daughter that she’s never tried before and seeing her gobble them up. Holding my wide-eyed girl as we go into restaurants and cafes where waiters and chefs are always happy to talk, show us into the kitchen and play games with her is a lot of fun.

New place, new rules

Unlike life at home, on holiday there are no routines. Bedtimes, bathtimes and mealtimes slide around the schedule so the days and evenings can be more spontaneous. I find that everybody relaxes a little bit.

We can suddenly stop and have something to eat at that little place tucked down a side street. It may be 3pm, in between lunch and dinner, but that’s okay, we’re on holiday and the pizza looks amazing.

Standards of cleanliness slip dramatically on holidays with young children. Who cares if we walk around covered in sand, sun cream and sticky ice cream? We can pad around pools, beaches and our holiday apartment without shoes for days if we want.

We wear the same swimming trunks three days in a row. Don’t feel like getting dressed this morning? No problem, just wear a nappy then – I’m talking about my daughter, not me.

I feel travel is incredibly bonding for parents and their children. Put simply, it’s an adventure for everyone, some of it good, some of it bad (airports with young children, I admit, are bedlam).

The sights, smells and sounds are stimulating to minds young and old, and all that fresh air and sunshine tires everyone out, which leads to delicious, long sleeps.

Holidays mean uninterrupted quality time with family, cuddles in hammocks, al fresco breakfasts, funny photos and dozens of special memories that, hopefully, last a lifetime. Just make sure you go somewhere warm.

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WHY I’M TERRIFIED OF HOLIDAYS WITH KIDS

Words by: Nathan Irvine

There was a time when I couldn’t wait to jet off on holiday with my kids. Dreams of touring Europe in a VW camper van. Letting them sample new delicacies, traditions and beautiful landscapes used to make my heart race with excitement. But that was about four years ago when we only had one child.

We’re now the proud wranglers of three wild boys. And the very idea of packing us all into a vehicle for three weeks of driving is enough to keep me awake at night.

I’d still love to do it. I really would. But it takes a military style operation just to get the gang dressed and in the car for a trip to Spinneys. I can just imagine the frayed nerves and sobbing filling some campsite in the middle of France.

For starters, we almost always forget something. It could be as big as a pushchair (no, really) or as small as dummy. But each lapse in concentration is now met impending doom when my wife and I realise what we’ve done. It’d be hard to enjoy authentic Spanish tapas when one of the kids suddenly screams for his beloved Paw Patrol cup that is thousands of miles away.

In for the short haul

There’s also the fact that without warning our five and two year olds will suddenly decide that they’re not going to eat. Anything. Sorry Italy, I know you’re the maestros of delicious pasta, but our lads will turn their noses up at any spaghetti outside of their norm. I’d turn red as the waiter would be informed by my children that his heavenly plate of linguine was, in fact, “rubbish”.

The furthest we’ve managed to go on holiday with three children was a staycation in RAK. And yes, we did survive. But we had our, erm, “moments”. Like the hour of repeatedly being asked why Teen Titans weren’t speaking in English on the hotel TV.

It’s not their fault, of course. It’s my own anxiety that gets turned up to 11 the moment we leave our creature comforts for more than a couple of hours.

There are places that I’m desperate to show them. I want them to feel real snow on the ski slopes of Georgia. Or take in the rolling hills of the Lake District in the north of England. I really, really would like to take them on that epic tour of Europe, too. But the thought of organising and executing anything that involves travelling for hours creates a huge ball of angst in my lower abdomen.

I know I’ll eventually find the strength and mental fortitude to take all my children away on holiday one day – I just think they might all be at university by then.

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