We have just spent 4 nights in Romney Sands (Kent) in a caravan (you cannot beat £9.50 Sun Holidays!) and I feel like I have done a marathon.
The first holiday we went on (another caravan hol, but on the Isle of Sheppey), Chunk was only 6 months old and was only starting to attempt to crawl. This meant I could plonk him somewhere in a room and he would be pretty much in the same spot when I had finished another chore. It also meant we could go out and do ‘adult’ things for long periods of time, like shopping, and he would happily sit in his buggy and people watch.
Fast forward 6 months, and we now have a child that walks, runs and clambers on/in/under and through everything he can spot. This time around we were in a much smaller caravan, so he had less space to run, but that didn’t stop him going up and down, up and down and up and down…
My mum came with us, and we both found it hilarious when he would walk around the caravan, because you could always hear him coming, as he thudded so heavily that the caravan shook! Figuring out where the name Chunk came from yet?!
We did attempt to go shopping at the Ashford Designer Outlet (my fave place, which is why I tend to holiday in Kent!) and it was definitely hard work at times, but I still managed to get 4 hours of shopping bliss which will turn into crushing anxiety when my credit card bill arrives 🙁
Chunk started off well, because he was napping, but he really is getting to the stage where he hates being strapped into anything- car seats, buggies and even the high chair are a daily battle, and unfortunately he is as stubborn as his mother and neither of us want to back down.
So 15 minutes after he woke up, he started kicking, screaming and pulling at anything he could grab as we walked past. In the end he came out and I put on his little back pack reins (which don’t rein that boy in at all I might add) and he just literally started running past all the shops and as usual would not be steered in any direction he didn’t choose.
I swear there needs to be instructions on how to steer a kid with reins on, because I thought they were supposed to help you keep the child near you, but he will pull on them like a dog that’s just noticed a cat nearby. The times he has gone so fast when I have stopped, that he’s fallen over at the force of the reins tugging are countless, not to mention the times that I’ve ended up just picking him up (kicking and screaming) and walking around with him like that, just so that we can actually move forward, as oppose to circles, squares or just the classic back-from-where-we-came route that he so loves.
I wouldn’t mind carrying him around if he weren’t so heavy to the point that my back has been spasming and locking a few times recently (including a rather embarrassing night when I got stuck on the floor and an ambulance had to give me gas and air to get me up again, but that’s another story) so I can’t actually hold him for too long these days, and now he has a tendency to kick and flick his head back so I get blows to the shoulders and face (how the hell do other parents deal with that, coz I can’t stand it!?).
And when we did finally get him to walk in the direction of shops, he would then want to pull everything off the shelves (there was an easter snowglobe incident whereby he smashed it to smithereens and I wanted to fade into the background) so he had to go into the dreaded buggy yet again.
During the rest of the holiday, it was evident that Chunk now needs to have some runaround time quite often during the day, so it was a case of finding places he could do this in as safely as possible- the family entertainment/arcade on the caravan site was a brilliant evening one- he adores just running around looking at all the game machines and dancing (bobbing) to their sounds and lights.
The local park was another good one, as was a little farm we found that had an indoor play area that was the best I have ever seen; – it has amazing soft, colourful floor tiles, bright walls and all the toys were in great condition. Chunk was in his element there, as there were only two little girls in there alongside him, so it was quiet and spacious, and it only cost £2.50 entry! We then got to see some farm animals and Chunk could also explore the outdoor toys.
There were sunny spells (with some wind at times) so we were able to visit the very lovely sandy beach in Dymchurch, where Chunk got to play on the beach for the very first time, attempt to play with buckets and spades, and watching the tide coming in. Those are my priceless moments, that let all the manic, crazy and tiring hours on ‘holiday’ worth it. He loved waking up to Nana as well as Mummy, and his favourite thing seemed to be sitting at the caravan window looking at the two ducks that would wait outside our caravan for food every morning. He even learnt the word ‘birdies’ during the holiday, as well as yodelling (don’t ask me where he learnt that!).
|Chunk duck watching from inside our caravan|
On the final day, Chunk spent 15 minutes chasing the ducks around the caravan site which was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen, especially as the ducks resorted to running underneath some caravans after a while in the hopes that he would think they had disappeared.
|Chunk chasing the poor ducks around the caravan site
All in all, the holiday was a success. Yes we had to pack the entire contents of my flat, and yes I was constantly thinking ahead of how to keep Chunk entertained and fed, but we still got away from this place, and we spent most of our time outdoors and keeping active. It has reminded me that we need to do a lot more in our hometown, which might help me to lose some of these pounds I have stored since giving birth, as well as keep Chunk from turning into a heffer like me!
My tips for anyone in the same position, would be to make sure you plan your child’s packed lunches (which means you can have a nice Maccy D’s as a holiday treat whilst they still get their healthy lunches), research child-friendly places to visit (farms, parks and beaches are fab), pack some favourite toys for the caravan, and improvise; – when Chunk was getting cabin fever before we were due to go out, we would go outside and walk around he caravan to look for birdies and I would try to teach him to kick the football (without success).
Has anyone else had any great, or not so great holidays with their young children?