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Staycation vs Vacation vs Crazy Gap Year

This summer we opted for a ‘staycation’ with curly headed boy (4.5yrs) and little dimples (6 months).  For ages I had perused all sorts of vacation options, but there were three problems:

  • I was shattered and really wanted bigtime pampering and five star service (for that read price!)
  • Little Dimples was just turning 6 months, so just about to start weaning and changing on a daily basis, so we had no idea what she would really want, plus really hot (like greece) wouldn’t be ideal with a little baby, and she screams in the car, so the UK wasn’t an option either.
  • Little Dimples had just decided to develop a bit of separation anxiety, or preference for who she liked to be left with, so a creche might not work.

So we opted for a ‘staycation’.  I did miss the automatic relaxation I get from the sound of the sea, with a bit of warmth, and laughing children in the background.  But we had someone to look after Little Dimples, and Curly Headed Boy went to camp a few days, so we had a bit of time together to chat, plus get a couple of massages each.  It made me realise that it would be more sensible to take care of my body regularly, rather than wait for holiday time, so I’ve kept up the massages/reflexology since then which is helping with the general exhaustion and breastfeeding.

We had some great adventures as a family too, and found that going into London really suited both the kids, even if it was just to meet up with friends.  The science museum is a must if you haven’t taken your kids.  It’s free (but I recommend taking refreshments, because big-time rip off!), and the kids section is so much fun.  Curly Headed Boy keeps ‘doing science’ when he finds reflections since our visit.  We are definitely going to go back in the next month or so to the Natural History Museum to see the dinosaurs again.  There’s a splash park in St Albans, which I’d been meaning to go to for years, and we are members at a local children’s farm.

There was one big disaster when the morning that we were off to see ‘The Lion King’ I asked big hairy northern hubby to check if pushchairs were allowed, only to find that under 3’s were not allowed.  Seriously, it’s a Disney show!  Before people start leaving comments saying how they hate being interrupted by kids at shows like that, let me point out that I’m not daft.  Curly Headed Boy loves shows and would definitely have the stamina for it, and he has read the book, bet you haven’t recently!  Little Dimples might have needed a break, but being a matinee it was perfectly timed for her nap.  We couldn’t go because Curly didn’t want to leave his sister behind, and I couldn’t leave her for that long as I’m still breast feeding.  So learn from my lesson.  It might be disney, but many shows in london are not actually for young kids.  I was very tempted to give my tickets to 3 smelly tramps, but couldn’t find any, and sadly couldn’t find anyone else either, which was a big shame.

Since then I’m even more chuffed we stayed at home, because having gone through the whole rite of passage of curly headed boy starting school, I’ve got very different opinions on what I would like to do for holidays with the kids.  Watching ‘My family’s crazy gap year’, I had a huge realisation.  I was incredibly lucky as a young baby and child to travel to africa every year, and go to lots of places in europe as a young girl, and colorado as an adult.  There are tonnes of amazing places in this world that I never got to go to as I didn’t have a gap year.  I’d love to make sure that over the next few years I can share my children’s first experiences of some of these places, and set them off on a path where they remember to look for the magical places on offer.

So that’s my plan.  Take care of myself during the year a bit more, so that I don’t need the huge relaxation of a holiday (not sure it’s possible with young kids anyway), and make a big long list of places that we can go as a family.  They don’t have to be posh or far away or an amazonian rain forest (like the TV show), it’s about giving them a richness of experience.

So here’s the beginnings of my list:

  1. A Festival: I’ve never done a festival and the other day read about camp bestival, which sounds fab!  It’s certainly the only way that big northern hubby is getting me in a tent.
  2. Lake District: Dare I admit I’ve never been there, I’m more of a devon & cornwall girl!
  3. Isle of Wight & Jersey: as above
  4. Lapland: I know it can be a bit rubbish, but if we get a good trip it’s meant to be amazing (in a few years when little dimples is 3/4).
  5. Colorado: Definitely need to take them there, I LOVE this place.  I might be a rubbish snowboarder, but you can pretend to be quite cool when sitting on your bum looking at the mountains.
  6. Africa: specifically zimbabwe when it is safer and when the kids are older, so I’m less worried about giving them malaria pills.  I’d LOVE to do an elephant safari oneday if it was one where I could be sure the elephants were well cared for.
  7. Aura Borealis : This is for big hairy northern husband ;o)

So can you help me with ideas to fill up my list?  Where have you been?  Did you take the family?  Feel free to link to your blogs if you’ve blogged about it (sorry I’ve not learnt how to do a mcklinky thingy yet).

Feel free to promote your holidays or your company, but beware: if they are boring, bog standard and have not an ounce of ‘experience’ in them, then they wont get shown ;o)  For instance, a mummy friend of mine just stayed in devon at a farm, which sounded brilliant, and amazing value: something like that is definitely a ‘yes’, and I’d love to know about it.  But your villa on whatever costa, however nice, doesn’t fit the bill for what I’m interested in today, unless you are also teaching curly headed boy to become ‘Avatar’ (he’s seen the cartoons, not the film ‘the last airbender’), have some great tree hugging stuff for me, a pool for little dimples, and a mountain for big hairy northern husband to climb.

6 comments

  1. love this post. Well, as you know we have just invested in a little cottage in the country right along the beautiful North Downs in lovely Surrey.

    My criteria was :
    – not longer than 1 hour car journey
    – must be change of scenery ie: lots of green
    – must have tons and tons to keep hubby occupied
    – endless walking/biking
    – stuff to keep kiddies entertained: fish farm nearby, chicken lots 200m to right, field with donkeys to left.
    – not too far from town: food, movies, swimming etc.
    – guest bedroom + box room for potential offspring/nanny/granny/friends

    Once all done: it will be setup with cleaner,gardener and regular ocado delivery.

    Oh and most most important of all…..
    a great big whopping jacuzzi in the back
    Just for me;):)

    I vote for staycation!!!!!!

    1. Sounds fab! Big northern hairy husband would vote for an endless pool rather than jacuzzi, that way you can swim and they can have jacuzzi bits in them and the kids love them. Just thinking ahead for you, for when the little ones arrive (who aren’t allowed in jacuzzi’s for years).

  2. Great post. Im on the same page as you–all that consideration and planning and thinking ahead to what will be the right time for this or that…etc!

    We recently had a great family vacation in Northumberland. We rented a self catering house in Bamburgh. We have kids ages 12-21 and two of the boyfriends came along. Trying to please that many ages and people is crazy so we thought we’d go somewhere that fit all these requirements:

    1. we could take three cars (so people could peel off and do their own things if they wanted to)
    2. far enough away to be a holiday, close enough to be driven to in one day.
    3. somewhere interesting
    4. somewhere with lots of outdoor things to do

    We all love being outdoors, most of us enjoy history, we had the rockpools and fabulous beaches, the Cheviots and fortress castles, stately homes and gardens and decent, child friendly pubs. Fantastic!

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