Holidays are unfathomably different once you become a parent. Gone are the days of having a lie in the sun or just under an umbrella, maybe reading a book, sipping cocktails, going to see all the sights, maybe some shopping, possibly an afternoon nap just ‘cos you can, then getting ready to go out that evening to a swanky restaurant, then maybe some drinks before snuggling down with your other half…
‘Wow you look fabulous have you been away?’
‘You look so rested, was it amazing?’
‘Did you do tones of shopping?’
Ah yes, nothing like a good holiday!
Except that is, when you go on holiday with very small children or toddlers. Because let’s face it, those aren’t really holidays, well not in the pre-kid sense anyway. It’s a totally different dynamic. The travel can be hellish and stressful to the max. Once you arrive though, things settle down and it’s less about you as a couple and more about you as a family and in some ways it’s not all that bad. We’d been away with our little lad last year and different as it was, it was still enjoyable… but as we were about to find out, you throw a sick child into the mix and it goes from different to nightmare in a flash.
You guessed it… we are just back from what I can only describe, clichéd as it might sound, as the holiday from hell. Yes, just like one of those dodgy shows you come across at midnight on Dave or Pick TV - My Holiday Nightmare, complete with giant rats, food poisoning and tourists doing bombs into the pool from their balconies…
Okay, well maybe it wasn't quite as dramatic as that.
Actually, to be fair, the location was a piece of heaven. An idyllic country setting in rural Cheshire, in a modern farmhouse with lots of space and an actual ice cream farm (yes really!) minutes from the doorstep. Could not have been more perfect.
And yet, both myself and my husband have come home more stressed and tired than when we left.
Well three words. Toddler chest infection.
The holiday started out great. I’d been really anxious about travelling with my lively 21 month old, so we opted to take the ferry to the UK, rather than face an airplane journey to somewhere like Spain or Portugal. My logic was, that on the ferry he could run around and see it all as a huge adventure and that any meltdowns could be dealt with easier, yes overall the travel time would be longer, but the space was a the overriding winner!
And it all started so great! I had to wake him up a lot earlier than he normally would get up, but he was all smiles and happy. So much so, that almost didn’t notice the runny nose he’d been sporting the day before, because I’d been so anxious about the journey itself.
We got on the ferry to lots of ‘WOW’S’ and excited pointing. He happily ran around inside and then outside exploring everything they ship had to offer. He even had a small nap in the car when we got off the ferry and began our drive….
I breathed a sigh of relief.
What had I been worried about? Silly me worrying about nothing as usual!
And yet there it was, right in front of me, the runny nose that was about to go supernova and set off a grenade on the holiday.
That evening he wouldn’t settle. He was a little scared to be in a new place and it took him a long time to go down to sleep. To be expected.
But then the coughing started.
Over the next couple of days, the cough turned into a ferocious bark. He had no appetite and felt hot. I’d been so preoccupied about remembering to pack the right clothes, his toys, nappies, nappy cream, PJ’s his teddies, etc, that I hadn’t even though to bring things like Calpol… it never entered my head we’d need it… God I really haven't a bloody clue, do I?
Anyway, cue mad dash to the pharmacy coming out armed to the teeth with Calpol, snufflebabe, tissues, plugins and cough bottle.
But it was no good. He was feeling lousier by the hour.
From then on we literally lived from meltdown to meltdown during the day. He was completely out of sorts, coupled with feeling really unwell in unfamiliar surroundings, everything soon became a battle. Even simple things like taking his shoes off became a trigger for a tantrum. We couldn’t go anywhere with him. His tired sad eyes and pale complexion said it all. He’d never really been properly sick before. He’d just started playschool at the start of the month and so we’d kind of avoided all the bad doses… until now that is.
With all of us exhausted from his daytime feeling crap induced meltdowns to having to go in and sleep with him at night, we made the decision to come home two days early and get him to the doc.
The result? A chest infection and his first course of antibiotics… and yet back in familiar surroundings he at least settled a bit better in his own bed, while his exhausted parents collapsed on the couch, both of us severely needing a holiday after our holiday.