You go from dipping a toe at dinner parties to full-on immersion in friends’ parenting and marital dramas
a 60 per cent rise in larger villa bookings since 2014, almost certainly due to squeezed budgets – one of the bonuses of a shared holiday is the chance to save money.
For us, the financial and social sides were equally appealing. My then-husband and
I – we split up three years ago – had three daughters (his) and a son (mine) between us, and envisaged them enjoying a chance to play with friends while the adults relaxed. This vision lasted until day two, when everyone’s best behaviour began to slide.
We should have known better after our French holiday disaster with Adam and Rose (‘They have girls the same age, it’ll be great!’). Our plane arrived two hours after theirs, and by the time we got to the gîte, they’d bagged the airy, en-suite master bedroom, leaving us with the sauna of a box room, despite us all having paid the same amount.
There’s also no guarantee your children will want to spend a week with kids they’d barely speak to at school – my son didn’t – and even less certainty that your attempts at resolving problems will echo your friends’ approach. A burst of pre-teen rudeness usually had me with my therapist hat on, gently probing for what was wrong; Adam’s approach was to yell first and ask questions later – after the cavalcade of slamming doors and retaliatory shouting. My way didn’t always work, but at least it was quiet.
‘ We all have different ways of parenting,’ explains psychotherapist Diana Parkinson. ‘ We can be very protective of our own children, and while they may fall out and