etc Columnist: Alexia Rowley

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Alexia Rowley on the realities of going on holiday with small children

The sun is shining and holidays are here. I can’t wait to lay on a sun lounger by a pool, soaking up the sun and enjoy the calm. Who am I kidding? I’m a parent of two young children! Laying by a pool in the sun, in peace, seems as likely as flying to the moon on the next Virgin rocket.

Summer is great with children, it really is, but it is completely different to summer holidays before having children. The summers of lazy pub lunches, last minute holidays to whatever destination was on offer, packing light. Reading books, sipping cocktails and dipping in the pool or sea without a second thought. Oh, I do miss those summer days and holidays!

Now a break by a pool in the sun sounds, above all else, dangerous. I am on high alert in case my two-year-old daredevil decides to throw himself in the water while I’m looking the other way.

Or my daughter refuses any buoyancy aids because, like everything, “I can do it myself”. The sun is not the welcome thing it once was, now the sun is a ball of fire that could burn my children at any minute. We have hats, cream, all in ones and the nearest shady spot all lined up.

Where I used to lay by a pool or on a beach with a book and drink, I am now surrounded by all sorts of paraphernalia, and I am certainly not lying down.

Well not for a period of time which would constitute relaxing! I am more likely found standing, factor 50 in hand, stepping over toys and calling my children back to put on their hats while watching out for any hazards. Just describing it gives me palpitations.

So, what are the positives about summer holidays with children?

The excitement. My children, as I’m sure most do, can get so excited over the smallest of things. We’re gearing up for a weekend away and my daughter is counting down the days and squeals with excitement when we even mention it!

The small things that you might not see are so important; that sandy beach, the bubbles the sea makes as it laps the shore, the daily ice cream and the colourful floats. Whatever it is, these little things are big things to little ones and watching their enthusiasm is infectious.

Just the best thing about holidays with children, is the first times.

Watching my baby son at the beach for the first time and watching his gorgeous face when he dipped his toe in the clear sea. Watching my daughter’s delight at the game she played endlessly of picking up wet sand and putting it in the sea, never tiring of it.

Watching them try new foods (admittedly after trying flavours my daughter just wanted to eat chips, but at least she tried). Sharing these are memories that we will always have.

Whilst I may not be able to lay back and relax with a good book. I do get to be part of something a lot more exciting, I get to witness those seemingly small things, that can cause so much joy. Relaxing is over rated anyway.

This first featured in the July edition of etc Magazine pick up your copy now.