So I’m facing the last night of our winter family holiday and I’m knackered. We’re staying at a great place in Port Victoria with friends and our 9 year old God daughter. That’s 3 kids under 9. Are we having fun yet? The house is newish, big and kid-friendly – a bit like us.
Getting ready for a family holiday begins with food shopping. Hundreds of dollars worth of goodies that will feed us all for a week and will travel well and that need to be bought at the last minute for freshness. Next is packing for me and the kids. Holiday gear, pjs, dressing gowns, slippers, jocks, socks, activities, books to read, playdough, textas, colouring books and stuff for the kids too. Then there’s the bath towels, tea towels, hand towels, sheets, pillowcases, quilt covers. Now we pack the car and by ‘we’ I mean ‘me’. Think tetris. But before I pack the car, I need to make sure the house is in a reasonable state to return to. This involves making three beds, washing the dishes, doing two loads of washing to dry while we’re away, turning off all the power points, emptying out the fridge, putting the rubbish out, closing all the curtains and checking that I’ve turned off all the power points. Twice. All while the boys are asking, repeatedly, ‘is is time to go yet?’. A three hour drive later and we arrive at the gorgeous [really it is] holiday house. And what do I do next? I make three beds, unpack the groceries, open all the curtains, turn on all the power points, unpack the clothes and make afternoon tea. Then we ‘relax’ for an hour or so before I make dinner, clean up after dinner, bath the boys, get them to bed and have a spot of ‘wine’ down time myself before getting into my own bed at the special holiday time of 9.30pm. That’s day 1. Since then I have done 3 loads of washing, local grocery shopping, made breakfast, lunch and dinner, swept the floors, made the beds, picked up the wet towels off the floor, yelled at the kids to stop yelling, washed 450 glasses and broken up at least dozen squabbles over who's turn it is to pick the kids' movie of the day.
It feels so good to get away from it all.
We’ve had fun. The boys have fished and crabbed and caught squid and eaten what they’ve caught. There’s been beach-side walks in the freezing cold and kite flying and the boys even ditched the training wheels on their bikes for the first time this week. Trips to the playground, table-soccer tournaments, a visit to the old lolly shoppe and home-made Barnacle Bills seafood feasts. Lots of wine for the grownups and real coffee twice a day thanks to the in-house coffee machine. It’s been a good trip away.
But… when you’re a full-time, stay-at-home mum there is no such thing as a family holiday. When your daily job is to look after your house and family, then simply changing houses is not my idea of a vacation. For me, a holiday involves crisp white sheets on beds made by someone else. A sun bed by a pool, somewhere warm where I can spend time with my kids while someone else makes us lunch. In house movies on a flat screen tv that I can watch from my bed, that I didn’t have to make. Room service. A cheeky lunch-time glass of wine. Lazy mornings on the beach playing in the sand with my boys. No chores. No washing. No packing up the house. Bathers, sarongs, thongs and a couple of novels. That’s a holiday. Throw in a girlfriend or two and subtract the husband and kids and it may even be the perfect holiday.