We’ve just got back from five days away in a caravan in West Wales. In fact, almost all our holidays over the last few years have been in caravans somewhere or other in the UK. Things always go a bit like this. Anyone else relate?
1. Ah, our home for a week! We’re going to have such an amazing time! I love a good old fashioned UK caravan holiday.
2. Kids’ suitcases are unpacked. Just about squeezed everything into the teeny tiny drawers, although none of them shut properly. Now, where are we supposed to put the suitcases? No room under the bed. They’ll have to go in a pile on the floor in the living room! I think I’ll leave all my clothes in the suitcase. Much easier.
3. Where on earth is the travel cot supposed to go? Ah, finally found a gap where it fits. Oops. Can no longer open the door. Aw, it’ll be so lovely to have our toddler back in the room with us. I’ve missed having a baby by the side of my bed!
4. “Mummy, where’s my [insert name of random toy that child has not played with in months]?” “It’s at home.” “Can we go back and get it because I really, really want to play with it.” “No.” “Please, Mummy, pleeeaase.” Sigh. Is it too early for wine? I am on holiday after all…
5. Trying to cook a family meal in a teeny tiny oven that only has one shelf and which takes about an hour to warm up.
6. Trying to wash up all the plates, pots, pans, cutlery and kitchen utensils in a teeny tiny sink. Cursing caravans for not having dishwashers. Or not booking an all-inclusive somewhere.
7. Almost bed time… but this is a holiday, so everyone can stay up late woohoo! Plus the caravan is like a sauna. At least 25 degrees inside. There’s no way the kids will be going to sleep in this heat…. I know! How about a lovely evening stroll to the beach.
8. “Mummeeeeeee, there’s sand in my shoes.” Repeat every two minutes. Until. “Mummmmeeeee, my feet hurt. I can’t. Walk. Any. More.” A five minute walk back to the van takes about half an hour. At least the kids will be shattered and flake out and as they’re late going to bed, maybe they’ll even have a lie-in.
9. Trying to wash three excited and overtired kids in a teeny tiny shower in a teeny tiny bathroom, where the water keeps going cold. Argh.
10. Caravan bedrooms are still 24 degrees, despite every window and door being open. Kids now running round outside barefooted. Ah well, it’s the caravan’s sheets getting dirty, not mine!
11. Right, two hours past usual bedtime and everyone is in bed.
12. Dilemma over windows. If we leave them closed, will they overheat and die? If we leave them open, will someone reach in and steal them? Decide to keep them closed but leave their bedroom door open and living room windows open in the hope the breeze will travel through.
13. Ah, silence! Oh no, what’s that plinky plonky music in the background? It’s getting nearer. Argh, no, no, no, ice cream van. Please not now. My kids have just gone to bed. Please don’t park right outside our van. Oh, too late. “Mummeeeeee! Can I have an ice cream, please?” “No. Bed!”
14. Kids who don’t usually share a room whisper and giggle to each other for at least an hour. Ah, finally, silence!
15. Too scared to put the telly on or talk to each other in case it wakes up the children due to incredibly thin caravan walls. Reading a book in silence, accompanied by a glass of wine. Ah, this is the life! A book and a wine with the sun shining on me! I love family holidays! This is brilliant! And maybe we’ll get a lie-in in the morning as they went to bed so late.
16. Time for bed. Try not to wake kiddies up when going through the bathroom. Try somehow to open bedroom door without knocking into travel cot and waking up baby.
17. Debating with hubby whether a bit of holiday loving is out of the question when you have a toddler in the room.
18. Before we’ve decided on the answer, a loud and angry cry from baby.
19. A dirty nappy in the middle of the night! Argh, where are the nappies? Tip toe into the other room where the other two children are sleeping. Please don’t wake. Please don’t wake. Phew. They didn’t wake.
20. What do we do with the stinky nappy? Can’t leave it inside the van as we’ll all be retching, especially in this heat. The bins are miles away. Is it really bad to leave it just outside the caravan door? Will the birds try to eat it?
21. Finally dozing off and the familiar cry of “Mummeeee, I need a wee.”
22. Half hour later. “Mummeeeeeee, I’m thirsty.
23. An hour after that. Thud. Wail. Someone has fallen out of the ridiculously narrow caravan beds into the ridiculously narrow gap between the twin beds and is now crying. Cuddle, cuddle, magic kiss. Back to bed.
24. Why didn’t we do a stay-cation instead? We could have done loads of amazing day trips and everyone would have slept like normal….. Sleep. Oh, finally sleep!
25. Wake suddenly. What’s that noise? Nudge hubby in the ribs. “What’s that noise? Someone’s on top of our caravan.” Nope. It’s the birds. Chirpy, excited birds waking everyone up by dancing on the roof at day break.
26. The next night, it’ll be the howling wind and the rain pounding on the roof sounding like someone’s playing a tin drum.
27. Either way, all the little people are up an hour earlier than they usually are at home, despite going to bed three hours later.
28. Walk barefooted to the kitchen to make breakfast. Why is there sand everywhere?! We took all the shoes off outside the caravan, got the kids straight in the shower. Why, why why?!
29. Why is the caravan vacuum cleaner so lame? It doesn’t pick up any dirt whatsoever!
30. Breakfast al fresco. Fresh fruit and expensive cereal we don’t usually buy at home. Ah, I love family holidays! And an awesome day trip to look forward to as well!
31. Return from day trip. Head back to number 4 on this list and repeat, but with over-tired and cranky kids, shattered from a day in the sun. Except for the day/s when it rains non-stop and you realise there are no good places nearby for a wet-weather day trip. Attempt to play a board game. End up with toddler knocking all the pieces all over the floor, and overtired five-year-old crying because she lost. Wail: “The caravan is way too small for all five of us! Next year we’re going somewhere with guaranteed sunshine.”
32. A week later, when someone asks if you had a good holiday, all that crap has been magically forgotten. “Ah, it was amazing. Real quality time – day trips to the beach, reading my book with a glass of wine, family board games in the evening. Can’t wait until next year!”