Recently I went away for a weekend break with my children who are aged three and one. I call it a break in the loosest sense. I was more exhausted when I got home than I had been before I left.
Despite being reasonably good sleepers at home, on holiday the children did not sleep. Getting them to bed each night took over two hours, and included prolonged wailing and repeated foot stamping (some of which was from the children). My sleep was broken on both nights of the break, and the girls then decided that each day should start at 4am. I wondered if trying to go away with small children was really worth it; in the middle of the night with a screaming child it certainly didn’t feel that way.
By the time it was light outside, I had already been up for four hours. I felt like I had been run over. I didn’t feel like doing any of the on-site activities that I had been looking forward to as I battled tiredness that felt like a hangover and jet-lag combined. But there was no choice. The children needed to get out, and I had pre-booked wholesome activities before arriving on site.
Luckily, once I was out in the cold November morning air, I started to feel more human. My headache began to fade, and over the course of the weekend I enjoyed the activities on offer. We went swimming, bike riding, explored the woodland, went on train rides and did a pottery painting workshop. There was a winter wonderland to enjoy, and a family of reindeer added to the Christmassy feel of the weekend. The sky was a wintry blue and the sun was shining; we wrapped up in hats and scarves and warmed our hands around mugs of hot chocolate. The girls loved every moment and never seemed to tire or get bored; there was so much on offer and they wanted to do it all. When I look back, it was a magical winter break.
Overall, the weekend away was a success. We all had a great time and made some very happy memories. However, the severe lack of sleep left me in a foul mood at times, and arriving home more exhausted than when I left means that I can’t count it as ‘a break’.
Was it worth the stress and tiredness?
At the time I was adamant that it wasn’t worth it, and that I just needed to accept that the girls were too young for holidays to be enjoyable. But in hindsight, I can appreciate that being away has left me with some wonderful memories that I will cherish.
That said, I’ll need a good six months recovery time before attempting a weekend away again.
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Hannah is a freelance writer living in Bristol with her wife and two daughters aged three and one. When she’s not obsessing about getting the laundry done, she can be found eating potatoes. You can find her on Twitter, read her blog and follow her on Facebook