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Sarah Cowen-Strong: It’s holiday time, try to get a child/parent mix

So, school’s out and hopes are high for that saved for, packed for, desperate for summer holiday.

Balancing act – a holiday is about the whole family
Balancing act – a holiday is about the whole family

Laughter in the sunshine, filtered family shots good enough for Instagram, whole days of rare time together and a wodge of memories to last a lifetime.

Just keep hold of that fantasy as you spend a small fortune on sun-screen, bug repellent, books and new shorts for little Mickey – whether you’re lucky enough to be flying off on a hot break or camping in the middle of a meadow.

Keep your eyes on the prize as you seek, sort, wash, iron and pack everyone’s holiday wardrobe. And as you try to keep the whole party calm, happy and entertained en route anticiapte that feeling when you’ve been away for a few days and you realise your shoulders aren’t hunched for the first time in 11 months.

You could of course do a Kirstie Allsop and send the little ones away to travel separately, but that’s a) not an option for most parents and b) opting out of an ancient initiation necessary to become a proper parent.

You’re not a fully paid-up member unless you’ve suffered, while on a journey, a tantrum from either a toddler, a teenager or a stranger affected by either of the above.

If, like Kirstie and co you are on a plane then it is part of the process to be disturbed while trying to watch the film and put away in-flight wine.

I used to make the whole excursion more fun by dressing all the children the same, not only so that I could feel like Maria Von Trapp for a few glorious hours but for the very practical purpose of remembering what any one of them was wearing if they were to lose themselves in a busy crowd. (I was serene but scatty.)

So I’m not for a Kirstie approach which doesn’t smack of much family togetherness but, I’m not for a totally childcentric focus either, when every minute of a holiday is geared to keeping the youngsters happy.

It’s a holiday for the parents too and children like being a part of the proceedings rather than the epicentre. Sometimes the pressure on them to enjoy being entertained is too much and they get tired and fractious because they too just want to chill out – albeit without a cold beer.

I’m not suggesting chldren be ignored, just helped to learn they are part of something bigger.

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