We've recently returned from three weeks travelling the south island of New Zealand. It is absolutely every bit as beautiful as everyone says it is! We hired a small campervan so that we could be flexible about where we went and how long we stayed there. I'm a mountains, lakes, glaciers kinda girl so the scenery really was heaven for me. I loved the fresh air and living outside, the freedom of going where ever we wanted, the roadside fresh produce, the dramatic weather changes and the wonder in the kids faces. So much so, that I'm about ready to quit 'real life' and just live out of a van and travel this beautiful planet. The question still remains though..."How was your holiday??" ummmm...well...
Truth is, there isn't really any such thing as a holiday with small children. The things that are hard at home, are actually just that little bit harder when you're away (particularly camping). Doing laundry without a washing machine, having a bath in a bucket, sleeping on a three quarter length bed, making three meals a day from a small bar fridge - you know...the character building stuff.
The van seating for the kids is significantly further away from the front seats than our car. Therefore when a drink bottle, collected treasure, snack etc is dropped out of reach it cannot be retrieved, without stopping the van. This results in blood curdling screaming out of frustration for whatever has been lost. Then Mr 3.5 discovers he can undo his car seat buckle. So from now on, every time he wants to make a point, he undoes his seat buckle. So we HAVE to stop. Ask me if this created some rage.
There were plenty of times when we were looking at each other and saying (or thinking) "Are we having fun yet?". It really is those times of adversity that you realise what matters though. We learnt our family holds together fairly well when there's:
- A way to have a hot cuppa
- A parent or sibling to sleep with
- A safe place away from sandflies
- No more driving today
- A beach for Daddy to smell and hear
- Some mountains for Mummy to climb
- Chocolate or ice-cream (or both)
I'd recommend it. Take some time away as a family to get back to basics. I particularly loved no toys - just watching the play of the kids together and their chatting about the natural things we saw. The quality time together, visiting new places, discovering new levels of resilience and developing problem solving skills was really fabulous. Call it a trip, an adventure, an exploration or a get-away. Just not a holiday. Save that for the distant memory of sleep-ins, hours of reading, restaurant eating, walking alone and time for craft. Hopefully a holiday is somewhere in the future, but for now we'll happily settle for this bliss.