This year we decided to go away for a week over the New Year period with our friends. We laughed and joked that this trip would either make or break our friendship. This would be our very first family holiday with friends.
We hired a beautiful 4-bedroom house a few minutes from Copacabana beach on the NSW Central Coast. When we arrived, the children were extremely excited. The four of them ran around the house like maniacs, laughing and having fun. Meanwhile we were unpacking and getting settled. The craziness of a holiday with young kids had begun.
With a little preparation and a ‘go with the flow’ attitude, these holidays can be a lot of fun for both kids and parents alike. If you have a similar trip planned for 2013, here are my top eight tips on how to survive and have an absolute ball at the same time.
TIP 1: Bathroom bliss.
Make sure there are a sufficient number of bathrooms to accommodate everyone. The house we stayed in had two ensuite bedrooms which was amazing and made a huge difference.
TIP 2: Research other beaches in the area.
Copacabana was a great location. However the day we arrived, we took the children down to the beach only to find the blue bottles had moved in. There were thousands of them lining the beach. I spoke to the lifeguard on duty and he proceeded to tell me that this was nothing and to just wear a wetsuit. I wasn’t convinced. We decided the next day to head to Avoca instead. Its worthwhile knowing what you’re plan B options are in case you need to make a quick location change.
TIP 3: Be flexible.
With two families to accommodate, including four young children, you have to go with the flow. If one family needs their space for an hour or so or perhaps just a moment to calm the children down that’s ok!
TIP 4: Bring enough toys to go around.
Let’s just say that one bodyboard between four children is a disaster waiting to happen. It quickly became apparent that more body boards were needed so the dads went to buy more. Once the bodyboard situation was rectified and all the children were happy. Teaching children how to share can be HARD work. My husband then saw another family with an inflatable boat. He thought the children would love it so he set off over the next couple of days on a mission to find a boat. Next time, we’ll have a good think of toys needed before setting off. : )
TIP 5: Watch out for the dogs.
The next day we went back Avoca and were armed with more boards and super soakers. We set up camp and stayed for hours swimming, building sandcastles and digging holes – the children absolutely loved it. After a few hours playing in the sun, the dogs started to arrive. They were running about unleashed and we promptly packed up and left when one peed in the water right in front of us where the children were playing. Children + dog pee in the same water = not a healthy mix.
TIP 6: Sun shelter or umbrella.
Although in my experience, they always fly away, these are an absolutely must in the hot Australian sun. When we arrived at Avoca rock pool around 9am, it was so hot it felt like the sand was melting the skin off our feet. Every other family on holiday had the same idea and the beach was already packed full of people. The waves were battering the children and my son in particular wasn’t a fan. He preferred instead to sit at the back of our sun shade and dig holes burying his hat for hours. In the end I forgot about the hat and it is still buried in the sand! It’s great to have a place in the shade for the kids to retreat to if need be.
TIP 7: Set up near an inlet, lake or rock pool.
You can relax more when you park yourself by an inlet where the water is shallow and you can watch from the sand and not necessarily be in the water all the time. The inlet at Copa is a really magical spot where the children can play and run around. By the last day, my husband had found a $15 inflatable boat and took the children on joy rides in the shallows. Between their body boards, playing in the sand and the boat, they didn’t know what was better. In the safety of the inlet, they ran from one thing to the other all day.
TIP 8: Bring a pack horse to the beach or a trailer.
Trying to carry a sun shade, beach bag, two body boards, a blow up boat buckets and spades and two children, and keep your thongs on because the sand is so HOT is a futile exercise. I am sure it’s all extremely humorous for those watching on with no children.
Overall going away with another family was different but a wonderful experience. The children had a blast as did we and I would definitely go on holidays with our friends again. I best ask them if they feel the same way!