GIVE ME A BREAK

ONLY A PAR­ENT CAN UN­DER­STAND THE IRONY OF “HOLIDAYING” WITH KIDS

The Weekend Post - Cairns Eye - - Front Page - WORDS// RACHAEL JANSEN

When is a hol­i­day not a hol­i­day? When you’re fac­ing a week in a kid-friendly car­a­van park. It’s not called a car­a­van park though – they call it a “hol­i­day park”, but don’t let the mar­ket­ing fool you.

It’s called that to lull you into a false sense of se­cu­rity be­cause, in our adult minds, we still as­so­ciate the word hol­i­day with the ones we had pre-kids.

Re­mem­ber those? You trav­elled in the off sea­son (be­cause why, why would any­one want to travel dur­ing school hol­i­days?), lapped up cock­tails, went shop­ping with­out hav­ing to go into a toy sec­tion, took only carry-on lug­gage that in­cluded books you could sit in peace to read, and you only had to book one room so it didn’t bank­rupt you to go. You wouldn’t be caught dead at kid­friendly ac­com­mo­da­tion.

Now look at us (or me as the case may be) – pay­ing an amount of money that once bought hubby and me three weeks in Bali, but in­stead now se­cures us a “hol­i­day park” swarm­ing with kids and not a swim-up pool bar in sight.

The last time we found our­selves in such a sit­u­a­tion, I swore it would never hap­pen again.

When the tent met an un­timely end, we found our­selves in a tin-shed cabin that backed on to the dreaded jump­ing pillow, at a cost of more than $300 a night. I swore it was the last “hol­i­day park” ad­ven­ture we’d have.

Camp­ing with ba­sic fa­cil­i­ties I’ll hap­pily do. A patch of grass be­side the beach and a piece of can­vas over my head – that’s a great hol­i­day. The “hol­i­day park”, how­ever, drove me to drink, with the two sav­ing graces be­ing that I rarely saw the kids and one of my favourite girl­friends was there to spend time with. I ob­vi­ously didn’t swear loudly enough (which is un­usual for me) be­cause we are this week head­ing to a “hol­i­day park”, al­beit a dif­fer­ent one to last time.

A hol­i­day is also not a hol­i­day when it in­volves self­ca­ter­ing.

What that ubiq­ui­tous term, tar­geted at par­ents look­ing to avoid ac­quir­ing the debt of a small na­tion in or­der to take their kids away for some fun, means is: The kids get a hol­i­day but mum and dad, not so much.

Again, when we’re camp­ing, the old self­ca­ter­ing job isn’t too bad.

Mostly be­cause it pretty much in­volves hubby cook­ing, or oth­er­wise feed­ing the kids from a packet of crack­ers and con­tainer of dip while I drink wine from my ba­nana lounge.

But in a tin shed with a kitchen, what self­ca­ter­ing means is an obli­ga­tion to “cater” and dishes will still need do­ing.

So ap­par­ently I’m on hol­i­day this week.

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