Parents’ tips for a happy and stress-free holiday

Steve's baby daughter made amazing progress this week, or so his wife thought

STEVE CANAVAN: It was a lot of rattle over just a little roll

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Planning a family holiday can be a pretty stressful experience. It’s not like holidays pre-child where you could essentially just wing it.

Now you have to pack for every conceivable weather condition and every potential disaster needs to be considered.

You’ve never said the words ‘just in case’ so many times in your life.

No matter how much planning you’ve done, you inevitably have that dreaded feeling of having forgotten something.

Your mind races – camera? medical kit? toothbrushes? children?

Oops.

Considering this, the editors of Families Magazines, now a group of 40 parents with children aged from three months to the early 20s, pooled some ideas from their experience to help ease the stress.

Here are a few of my favourites:

· Label your child’s clothes, towels and backpacks, especially if you will be using kids’ clubs – they WILL go missing. Labels 4 Kids (labels4kids.com/fam) and Easy 2 Name (easy2name.com) both stock packs of instant labels so the job is a breeze and it’s a much cheaper solution than replacing lost items. They also have ID wristbands so you can label the children with your contact details.

· Photocopy everyone’s passport and keep the copies in a different place. If the originals go missing, proof that you had passports will make it much easier to tussle with authorities.

· Have up-to-date pictures of your children on your phone – if they go missing you can show authorities what they look like.

· Freeze food to await your return – even fresh milk can be frozen – so you don’t come home to an empty kitchen. Some very organised mums even do an online shop before they leave for delivery on their first day home!

· Lost luggage is a nightmare. Rather than filling one suitcase per person, pack a couple of daytime and evening outfits for everyone in each case so you can all get started while the hotel/airline tracks down the missing bag.

· Add a small ‘emergency bag’ to your hand luggage, with plasters, tissues, sachets of paracetamol, cotton wool, needle and thread, safety pins, wet wipes and a few sweets. Sucking sweets are great for little ones who struggle with their ears on take-off.

· Leave a spare set of keys with a neighbour in case of home emergencies, losing yours or locking yourself out while loading the car! Cancel the newspapers and ask your neighbour to take out and return your bins on collection day, so you’re not advertising an empty home.

· Avoid car journey boredom with story tapes – one mum recommends the How to Train your Dragon series. The ‘Michelin I-Spy’ activity books are also great fun, as are the free downloads from rac.co.uk/advice/car-knowledge/top-ten/car-games/.