Sun, sea, sand and the usual parenting stress

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It’s that time of year again – today is officially the last day of term, and what an amazing start to the summer we’ve had so far!

I think we’ve all been left slightly open-mouthed (ready for another ice cream) by the weather – a summer that has actually felt like a summer.

During our appallingly cold spring, I said the weather gods were saving all the good stuff for the summer and so far this seems to be true (I am touching wood as I type this, don’t worry!)

We haven’t been abroad for a couple of years but because the weather has been so dire the last couple of summers, I decided we needed some almost guaranteed foreign sun so typically – now that we are having a heatwave in the UK – we’re off to France.

Passports have been renewed (ouch), European medical cards have arrived and I have begun washing and packing an alarming amount of underwear while wondering if we may both need to go commando for the next few days before we leave.

I find around about now I start to have recurring nightmares. In these nightmares it is time to get on the plane yet not only have we not left the house, I find that nothing is packed and I can’t find essential things like camera, passport, tickets – child.

So I’ve made a lot of lists. I have lists about the lists. Being a single parent has forced me into being more organised because if I forget it, it gets forgotten!

It also means I have to travel very lightly as there is one less person to carry luggage and I’m not exactly pumping iron at the gym these days.

Even once you manage to leave the house with everything you need, a family holiday isn’t necessarily a relaxing time.

You spend a good proportion of the day lathering sun cream on squirmy objecting little bodies, making sure they are properly covered, fed and hydrated.

And perhaps you have a great big pool to sit around? Lovely.

Except instead of relaxing with your eyes closed and a cocktail to hand, you have to make like Hasselhoff and be on constant water watch.

So then it can come as an unwelcome and frustrating surprise to find out that given all your hard work and expense in getting there, your child sneaked a suitcase full of tantrums along too.

‘Erm, excuse me offspring?’ you might find yourself thinking. ‘Do you have any idea how much effort this took? Yet here you are flailing your arms around because you can’t have a second ice cream!’

So the best bit of advice I heard recently was to work on a 70:30 ratio. Accept that holidays aren’t going to be effortless when you have children.

If you can enjoy 70 per cent of the time you are away together, that’s a result.