One of the reasons people give for not having a third child is that they still want to go on holiday. It’s as if once you have that third child, they think you’re simply not allowed. Here’s 8 tips on how to do it.
Of course, there will be challenges.
If you’re going to a hotel, it’s going to be more expensive, because you’re definitely going to need two rooms. If you’re going abroad, there’s an extra air fare to consider once they reach two. But I’d argue that even with two kids, you don’t want to share a room, right? Plus, at least with three kids you’re likely to occupy a whole row on the airplane. No more anxiety wondering who your kids are going to annoy. You already know.
That’s why you’re going short-haul.
Our third child joined us last July. He hasn’t cramped our style. Yet. Whilst the joy of going abroad is yet to come this August, we’ve been away in the UK several times as a family of five. Here’s what I’ve learned so far, about travelling with three young kids.
1. Packing for five. It doesn’t matter how long you’re going for, you need a lot of stuff. One night. Seven nights. The amount of stuff seems to be the same. It’s depressing how much you actually need. The sooner you get your head around this, the better. The sooner you do it, the better because otherwise it will totally put you off and you’ll never go anywhere. Ever again.
2. Location, location, location. The first time you go away as a family of five, it helps if you go somewhere you’ve been before. We went to a timeshare I’ve been going to since I was nine. We knew the place inside out, where to eat and where A&E was. Which was good, because that’s where we spent the first day after Godivy amputated the top of her toe. The familiarity was comforting, it saved us from that period of holiday acclimatisation and we knew it was appropriate for three young children. Not to mention manageable for two knackered parents.
3. Less is more. Make sure your first trip is only a few days long. Going away with three young kids is exhausting. You’ve increased the odds of someone being ill and someone being up in the night plus you’ll miss that shred of personal space you get at home, once the kids are in bed. After three days together, you’ll be itching to get home. Or sit in a dark room, on your own. With a bottle of gin.
4. Let the baby fit in with you. Third children are usually much more flexible than their older siblings and are much more likely to ‘come along for the ride.’ Even still, it’s worth consciously acknowledging that it’s a holiday for all of you. So try and relax any routine a little. Put the Gina Ford book down. And don’t worry if nutrition isn’t at the top of the list. If nap-time goes awry. Expecting things to be chaotic is less disappointing than expecting things to be perfect. You said goodbye to perfection when you decided that three was the magic number, remember?
5. Take a baby carrier. Even if you aren’t usually a baby wearer, take a baby carrier with you. Something supportive like an Ergo (which you can use on children up to 4 years old). Many holiday activities and terrains aren’t buggy friendly and you don’t want to restrict the fun for the other kids. Or worse, watch them all go off and have fun without you. Whilst you sit with the baby. Again. Sigh.
6. Don’t be afraid of the Great Outdoors. No one was more surprised than me to find myself camping with a 5 year old, 3 year old and 10 month old. Actually that’s a lie. Everyone was more surprised than me. Apparently, going ‘proper camping’ (not glamping) and all sleeping together in a two man tent is a bit bonkers. Maybe so, but it was also very liberating. And cheap. There was enough space that the older kids could roam free, safely. We could care less about manners, bedtime, everything in fact and sit by an open fire with a glass of wine. When you have kids, that’s pretty much all you want from a holiday, right? A little bit of breathing space from the kid-centricity of your lives.
7. Remember to get a passport. It sounds obvious but if, like us, you’ve booked your summer holiday before you’ve got your baby’s passport, don’t forget to do this. Three children in, you can get a bit slack about, well, everything and it would be just terrible if you had to leave one behind, wouldn’t it?
8. Pack gin. A couple of years ago, we found ourselves stuck on the M25 on our way to the timeshare. The traffic was horrendous. It was pouring with rain. The kids had eaten all the car snacks in the first 30 minutes. Practically the only thing that kept me sane was knowing I had a litre of gin in the boot.