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Katie Kirby, author of the blog Hurrah for Gin, offers a hilarious combination of honest anecdotes and witty illustrations to provide a real and laugh-out-loud account of the whirlwind of parenting. As a mother of two 'lively' boys, Katie is firmly of the opinion that if you don't laugh about the challenges of raising young children, you will cry. Read her account of the trials and tribulations of family holidays here.

Mummy used to love holidays! The perfect opportunity to rewind, relax and well… basically just do nothing at all!

Now she has kids things are a little err… different.

Sometimes holidays feel a bit more like hellidays!

Last year Mummy booked a package holiday to the Costa del Sol (again). It is very nice but they’ve been 7 times now and instead of feeling excited about it Mummy felt like she was almost… dreading it.

For one thing - packing is always an utter nightmare!

Before kids Mummy used to fill her suitcase with daytime and evening outfits and multiple pairs of shoes with varying heel heights. Now 90% of her luggage allowance consists of Calpol, factor 50 sun cream, plastic beach paraphernalia, blow up unicorns, black out blinds and 27 special cuddly toys that the children cannot possibly leave behind. She only has enough room left to take a manky old bikini, a pair of shorts and some flip-flops!

By the time the packing is done it’s usually 1am - which is great as they have to get up at 3am to drive to the airport because clever Daddy booked the worst flight he could possibly find.

In the car they always have a massive argument about who forgot to sort out the airport parking and by the time they arrive they look like they are half dead.

It’s funny how you can be looking forward to the end of the holiday when you are still in departures isn’t it?!

The children don’t seem to get airports. They don’t like browsing the shops or enjoying a pre-flight pint. Instead they like to run around shrieking like guinea pigs who’ve just downed 3 espressos. Unluckily for Mummy and Daddy they don’t understand relaxing plane travel either.

All Mummy would like to do is sit down, read her book and order a miniature bottle of fizz. All the kids want to do is push buttons, bang trays and refuse to stay in their seats, meaning they all nearly get kicked off the plane before it has even taken off!

NEVER MIND. When they arrive at their hotel the holiday can finally begin!

Despite only having had 2 hrs sleep they head straight out, eager to explore their local surroundings. Mummy smiles, the beach is absolutely stunning and she feels hopeful for the first time!

Unfortunately the children are less able to appreciate the beautiful blue sea, palm trees and sandy beach and they are bored after approximately 13 minutes.

In the evening the family like to head out and appreciate the local cuisine. They find a lovely looking tapas bar and although Mummy chooses the children the least offensive thing on the menu, they still hate it because it’s not beige doesn’t come out of the freezer.

The meal costs Mummy and Daddy 150 euros which is partly due to the amount of wine Mummy has to consume to get through it.

By the time the holiday finally ends Mummy is ready for an actual holiday. In a small isolated hut in the Outer Hebrides. Alone.

Mummy shudders at the memory. This year she is keen to do something different but booking the perfect holiday seems like such a mammoth task - there are so many different options that it feels incredibly daunting. When you’ve got a lot on your plate it’s so tempting to go with the easiest option and stick with what you know.

But then Mummy’s friend Linda comes over for a coffee and tells her she has just come back from an amazing cruise with Royal Caribbean. Mummy has never thought of herself as the type of person to go on a cruise but Linda explains that it’s more of a ‘secret staycation’ and the more she talks about it the more appealing it seems…

Apparently some of the ships have robotic bartenders which sound like the best invention since sliced bread! If Mummy could have her own robotic bartender at home her life would be improved immeasurably.

Throwing caution to the wind, she books a seven night cruise to France and Spain!

The kids seem a bit dubious about going on holiday on a boat but as they drive into the port in Southampton their eyes light up. It is not a boat at all - it is the biggest ship they have ever seen! In fact it’s bigger than big, it’s GINORMOUS!

Everything is so easy. They park very close to the ship, hand over their luggage to the crew and the holiday begins as soon as they set foot on board! The travelling doesn’t feel like travelling at all and they will get to visit lots of lovely destinations whilst making zero effort, Mummy’s exact kind of holiday – result!

There are so many things to do on the ship that the children are spoilt for choice and as the activities are free Mummy can say yes to EVERTHING which makes the kids really appreciate her. Or at least appreciate her a little bit more than usual.

And Daddy has been absolutely transformed! He tries out the FlowRider surf simulator and no one has ever seen him so happy.

I mean he is clearly in the throes of a mid-life crisis but who cares!? If he starts fantasising that he may have a shot at being the next Kelly Slater then it’s best just to indulge him!

The kids are also living the life of their dreams because the cruise has loads of all-inclusive restaurants, where there is so much choice that they actually eat their meals happily – imagine that! And the best thing of all is that there is free ice-cream ALL DAY EVERY DAY.

Mummy doesn’t worry that they kids have eaten 237 ice-creams in 2 days because she is feeling zen after stepping into a spa for the first time in years. She feels so chilled out that she’s not even worrying about the bins being put out while she is away (well not worrying quite as much as usual).

In the evenings the kids go to the free kids club which they love because there is always so much fun to be had!

This means that Mummy and Daddy can go out together and have a meal where they don’t have to keep screaming ‘SIT DOWN ON YOUR CHAIR!’, ‘DON’T FLICK YOUR FOOD AT EACH OTHER!’ and ‘IF YOU DON’T EAT THAT YOU WON’T BE GETTING ANY PUDDING!’

They are so pleased to find out that it’s actually quite enjoyable to spend time alone together and that maybe they get on quite well after all…

There is literally so much to do on the ship that no one is ever bored and every day is different. Sometimes when the ship docks in a new port the kids are having so much fun that they don’t even want to get off!

Luckily Daddy is such a selfless person (and massive big kid) that he offers to supervise them…

That means Mummy gets to go shopping – hurrah! The baggage allowance on this ship is… and she can hardly believe this… a massive 90kg per person!!!! Which means one thing – she can buy ALL THE SHOES she likes!

When her feet get a bit hurty from all the shopping she sits down in a lovely Spanish wine bar and orders a delicious glass of rioja. The waiter is very good looking and Mummy does a little bit of harmless flirting with him and feels about 19 again (unfortunately she still looks 41).

Before they all know it the holiday has ended and they are all very sad to be going back to their boring monotonous lives.

But then the strangest thing happens!

When they arrive home Mummy doesn’t immediately want to go shut herself in a dark room, she feels relaxed and well rested… she feels like she’s actually had a holiday!

Who’d have thought it?! Dad and the kids don’t know quite what to make of it…

But before they know it they are back to work and school and shouting at the kids to get their shoes on every single morning. Mummy is not at a spa feeling zen, ice-cream for breakfast is no longer a thing and Daddy has sadly morphed back from cool surfer dude into an estate agent again.

However at least they will always have the lovely memories and hundreds of cruises to choose from next year!

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