Family holidays…why they can often be a disaster

2 Apr

A solicitor I knew once told me that the busiest times of the year for divorces were after Christmas and after the Summer holidays.  It seems that spending extended time together as a family can not only lead to divorce but to many other mis haps as well.  Anyone who has a family knows that the word ‘holiday’ doesn’t usually fit with the experience that you have together.  Personally many of the family holidays we’ve had have been harder work than being at home.  We tried many different types of holiday -those focused on the kids, okay so they  were happy but it felt tacky and disappointing to us, adult focused – where we’d pay extortionate prices to put the kids into a kids club and I’d lie by a pool trying to come to peace with my guilt about the fact that the kids hated the kids club and that they weren’t really enjoying the holiday.  Before each holiday I’d spend hours searching the internet for the perfect balance, something for the kids, something for the grown ups.  Sometimes this worked but most often I’d find myself in a beautiful place doing as much cooking and cleaning as I do at home and feeling like my support network had vanished.  Though it was nice to spend time together, it wouldn’t take long for boredom and squabbles to set in.  Tensions would rise as we’d get lost in the car, trying to find a restaurant in a town we didn’t know, scraping the rental car when the sat nav would take us the wrong route in a quaint village, mis-timing the siesta and ending up with crisps for lunch, spending as much time in a foreign supermarket as on the beach and  feeling over whelmed by the constant decision making. I’d find myself not enjoying the holiday, even though I felt like I was supposed to.

One particular holiday we were over in Talum in Mexico. My brother was getting married over there and we decided to spend the week before having the kind of holiday we would have had before we had children.  It had been a long time since we’d flown long haul and we were craving that beach paradise kind of holiday. This place certainly was that.  It was on a beautiful beach, the staff were very welcoming, the food was delicious, there was yoga and scuba diving available.  Everyone would describe it as paradise – I think they even had a sign which said ‘Welcome to Paradise’.  For us however, it certainly was not paradise. The temperature would soar to 40 degrees from 11-4, we were all squished into one room with no air conditioning, the water was dangerous to drink so anytime our 2 year old was playing in the pool or near the taps we would have to scrutinise her every move.  There wasn’t a cool place where the children could play and one of the worst things is that there were NO OTHER CHILDREN.  This to our 5 year old son was not his idea of paradise at all.  You’d think that by allowing your child your unconditional attention for 1 week would give them all they need. Not at all. He was really bored with us after a couple of days and we’d end up feeling like we were stalking other family’s trying to arrange play dates.

I knew that there must be an alternative.  I tried to arrange holidaying with family and friends but different budgets and other commitments meant that this wasn’t really an option for us. As I loved yoga I’d search for ‘family friendly’ yoga holidays. These were the closest we came to a great family holidays. Time in the morning to do yoga while the kids did something craft based and time together in the afternoon.  It was really lovely to feel part of a group and to have that holistic feel to a holiday. However the down sides were, that the kids weren’t all that happy with the arrangement, we had to camp so we were all squished into a yurt together (I’m not a natural camper), there wasn’t usually a pool or a place to cool down, the enforced vegetarianism and lack of alcohol didn’t suit my husband. Also these yoga places were often in the middle of nature somewhere, which was wonderful in many ways but it also meant lots of mosquitos, food that wasn’t suitable for children and guilt over the fact that my children missed fish fingers and just wanted to play on their ipads rather than chase a butterfly.

A real yearning began to grow in me to create a holistic family holiday that was realistic about the children’s and husband’s needs as well as fulfilling my own need to be looked after and to connect with other like minded parents. This was the holiday I really wanted and could not seem to find.  Then I met Julie Leoni, who was one a facilitator on a community family holiday that I attended last year. Julie was such great fun, she created lovely, holistic workshops for both the grown ups and the children.   What I especially loved about Julie is that she was really realistic about what kids do and do not want to do on holiday. We had such similar feelings when it came to the following:

Ipads  – YES our kids have them,  YES they are useful for the plane journey, NO we don’t want our kids to spend hours of their holiday playing Angry birds.

Kids food  – YES we do want them to eat more healthily and try new foods but NO they’re never going to eat a tofu and aubergine curry, no matter how hungry they are.

Accommodation – YES we want big enough rooms or two rooms available so that you can have enough space as a family, NO we don’t want to pay hundreds of pounds for this.

Cooking & Cleaning – YES we want all this done for us and to feel looked after.

Beach – YES we prefer a natural beach to a pool that’s close by to the venue. YES the water to be warm enough for the kids to get in, YES we would like the option of buying food, NO we don’t want a rammed, tacky beach, NO we don’t want a surf beach with massive waves which will terrorise the children (or us if the children actually go in)

Village – YES we’d like to be close to a village, YES we’d like to feel part and welcomed as part of that village, YES we’d like it to be safe enough for the kids to run around and play while we sit in a bar if we wish, YES we’d like it to have bars or restaurants that couples or families can slip off to it they like. NO we don’t want it to be too big or busy.

Alcohol – YES this can be a great part of a holistic holiday.

Activities – YES we’d love a place to hold supportive circles, drama, creative writing, meditation, life coaching. YES we’d love others in the group to get involved and share whatever skills. NO it’s not going to be overly earnest or compulsory.

Julie and I decided to create the family holiday that we were both yearning for.  We’d spend hours together creating this (including asking our kids what their needs were). We spent hours online researching, talking to and visiting venues that might tick all these boxes.  We are now delighted to have finally found a couple of amazing venues which match these criteria and we’re kicking off our first season this Summer with a holiday on Cres in Croatia from 30th July – 13th August (the flyer is attached below).  We are so thrilled about these and a lovely group is beginning to gather together. If you haven’t done this kind of holiday before then you probably have lots of questions, we’d love to help answer these, so please email me at and we can set up a Skype call.  In my next blog I’ll be sharing my experiences of these kind of holidays and the positive changes they made  to our family life.

If you have a funny story about a family holiday that you’d like to share, please get in touch, I’d love to hear it.



One Response to “Family holidays…why they can often be a disaster”

  1. globie April 3, 2014 at 4:28 pm #

    We used to go and stay on a Farm in north Wales, the farmer had 4 kids around my and my sisters age so we would just disappear off with them chasing sheep and building hay bale houses, while the adults did their own thing. We reappeared at tea time.

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