1 Don’t take plastic toys on the plane
A five hour flight with the wee man was always going to be a challenge for us – even if his cousin (R-Chopz), aunt and uncle were all there too. We packed a huge bag of tricks and rotated them. While R-Chopz, who’s 13 months, was peacefully sleeping, the wee man stood up in his seat, peered at the sleeping woman behind him and launched Thomas the Tank at her head. She woke with a shriek, we apologised profusely, the wee man started wailing, R-Chopz woke up, he started wailing, and we all had a very jolly time.
2 Accept you will become even more obsessed with sleep
We met the Wee Man’s other cousin (Shrimpy) and other aunt and uncle at the Tenerife resort, in the bar, where they were having a wee beer to help them through a day that had started with a 6am flight from London. Shrimpy (6 months) hadn’t really napped and the disrupted sleep pattern was to continue for all three children throughout the holiday. Only once did we all have breakfast together – someone was always getting an extra hour’s kip. R-Chopz woke at 5am every morning, the Wee Man at least waited til 6. We made a small breakthrough when we all discovered we could wheel the cots into the bathrooms. The wee man’s post-lunch snooze was always two hours, and dovetailed perfectly with the sun hitting our balcony, so I consoled myself with that.
3 Know that Cava at breakfast is acceptable behaviour
See above and remember, if you have paid for an all-inclusive holiday, it is your moral duty to ensure you get value for money.
4 Beware bare bums
It was hot, we were swimming and the floors in the rooms were tiled, so nappy-off-time was easy. Only once did we get caught out, one afternoon while eating chocolate, when Rod bent down to pick up a “truffle”. It wasn’t.
5 If falling off a chair, don’t grab the nearest child for balance
There were six adults and three children, so we’d usually end up pulling tables together and angling them so that we got the sun and the kids didn’t. We’d also usually rotate the drinking rota. Mealtimes were rowdy, messy and occasionally slightly tipsy, so when Rod swung on his chair and nearly tipped into a flower bed his reflex was to grab the nearest thing: R-Chopz in his high chair. If not for Uncle B’s quick thinking, it could all have been very messy indeed.
6 If leaving your toddler unattended (ie with dad) expect the unexpected
The girls and I spent a luxurious afternoon in the spa, having wonderful massages and then lounging by the adults-only pool on love seats overlooking the beach. We had a few glasses of Cava (efficiently clogging our freshly drained lymphatic system) and then, at 5, thought we’d better get back to help with dinner. Helen gasped as she spotted her 6 month old, covered head to toe in Ella’s Kitchen but at least her son wasn’t injured. The wee man was smiling through his wet fringe as Rod applied ice to a cracker of an egg on his forehead. “He didn’t cry – it could have happened to anyone,” Uncle B loyally exclaimed as I cried out and bit back the remonstrations. The wee man really was fine.
7 If claiming golf took 6 hours, don’t post pub pics
Fair’s fair, so the boys went off for a morning’s golf. No children were injured in their absence. They strolled into the rooms six and a half hours later, claiming “the back 9 was really slow” and telling a long story about a German couple. Our suspicions were confirmed later that afternoon when a picture of them enjoying beers in the sunshine appeared on Facebook.
8 Choose restaurants with sober staff
We stayed in the resort for six nights out of seven, but ventured out once with two sleeping children and one boisterous toddler (the Wee Man) to the local town for tapas. At 9.15, when Rod and I had practically rocked ourselves to sleep and he was finally quiet, we parked him next to his slumbering cousins and eagerly perused the menu. The waiter bounced over and roared “Are you ready to order?” making us all jump over the buggies and pointedly whisper our requests. Perhaps on purpose, or perhaps because of his mate Charlie, he continued to screech at us until we were all holding onto each other laughing. The arrival of the last dish, Andrew’s “green pepper plate”, nearly ended us all.
9 When ordering a beer, remember the V
We couldn’t understand why Andrew came back from the bar the first night carrying five gin and tonics and what looked like pink lemonade. “I asked for a beer and I got this,” he said. When I asked exactly what he’d said, he answered, “una cereza”. I burst out laughing. “You forgot the V. Cereza means ‘cherry’!”
10 Anticipate holiday milestones
The best day of the holiday contained a hat trick of tricks. First Shrimpy sat all by himself for over a minute. Then R-Chopz took six whole steps towards me. Finally, at night, the Wee Man greeted his Uncle Andrew with a “hiya” – like it was the most normal thing in the world. Finally – another word!
11 Beware other children
Further to point 2 – other families are most likely in the same boat. However, if they finally do get their 8 month old to sleep they should really park him somewhere other than the playpark. Otherwise it’s really inevitable that the wee man will joyously run over and squeal hello into the tot’s face. Oops.
12 Make sure everyone gets a date night
We each had the opportunity to have a meal at the “posh” restaurant at the resort, with the other two couples babysitting. It was nice to take the excuse to properly dress up and have a ‘date night’ but in the end, we cut ours short to rejoin the others. We decided we’d rather spend our last night with everyone.
The end of a holiday is always rubbish, but particularly so when you’re saying bye to your family, scattering across the UK and not sure of the exact date when you will all meet up again.
One thing’s for sure, we will definitely plan another holiday together – Tenerife was terrific.