The Reality of Holidays with Small Children

Hot. Sweaty. Grumpy. Welcome to holidays with small children.

As schools finish for the summer, many families will be looking forward to their summer holiday. Daydreaming about sunset drinks, siestas, al fresco barbeques, sea salt on tanned skin, plunging into a cold swimming pool after having heated up on a sun lounger while engrossed in a book….

 If you have small children, the harsh reality is this:

 You won’t be sunbathing. You won’t be reading. You won’t be swimming (on your own). You won’t be having sunset drinks, because it will be bath time. Oh yes, bath time still happens on holiday. So does breakfast. So does clearing up mess and cooking meals that aren’t eaten. It will be the same childcare that you do day in day out, but in 35 degree heat with less equipment and more hazards.

 You are likely to have spent weeks preparing, desperately downloading as much as you can on to your I-pad, buying ANYTHING that you think might facilitate a relaxing holiday; black out blinds, snooze shades, activity books, snacks to feed an army, but none of it will really help. They will sleep badly at night, nap badly during the day, not want to do any ‘activities’ but instead want to play with the manky stray Greek cat or run around the pool side with deep water on one side and a sheer drop on the other.

 All is not lost however; there is a flicker of hope. We’ve got 10 great tips for a more relaxing, less stressful holiday with young kids:


On Amazon Prime Video you can download TV programmes and films, which can be a lifesaver for plane journeys, or afternoons where it’s too hot for the kids to go outside. If you don’t have it you can sign up to a free 30 day trial and cancel it after the holiday finishes.

  1. Bag of surprises for the plane

You know how kids always seem to love the cheapest toys, well one great tip is to bring a bag of wrapped stocking filler type toys and bring them out one at a time throughout the flight. This keeps them entertained for AGES and makes you feel slightly less guilty than plugging them into movies for the whole journey!

  1. Kind Sun tan lotion

Applying sun tan lotion is just the worst job EVER. It’s sticky, messy and the kids struggle and wriggle to escape. It also can cause irritation to sensitive skin and eyes. We have however found one which is kind, gentle and is the only one that doesn’t seem to sting or irritate their eyes.

  1. Mosquito Patches

Another totally tedious job is applying insect repellent. We swear by these 100% natural patches which you can stick anywhere from clothing to bedding and can even use with newborns. Much better than that toxic smelling spray.

  1. Educational Apps

Educational apps make you feel a lot better about giving your kids the iPad to play with and can keep them occupied for hours. There are so many apps for kids but we found this selection from The Guardian really useful. We particularly recommend ‘Endless Wordplay’.

  1. Packing tips

Don’t over pack kids clothes. Remember they will spend most of their time in their swim suits so pack lots of these, and less of everything else. The long sleeved UV safe tops can be a lifesaver in really hot weather. It also works well to roll clothes rather than folding. It takes up less room and they come out less creased.

  1. Plan travel times around sleeps

Although the thought of an overnight flight with kids sounds horrendous, it can actually be a lot easier than daytime flights. As long as they sleep, the whole journey can go by pretty smoothly which is preferable to keeping them entertained for 10 hours. If the kids still nap then short haul flights timed around nap times also work well.

  1. Accept any help on offer

If there’s a kids club or crèche in your hotel or if there’s a way of hiring a babysitter for your villa DO IT. Don’t feel guilty about taking a few precious hours of the day to spend child free. You deserve it and the kids will be fine without you for a while. Another clever option is to take grandparents with you. They get to spend time with the kids, the kids will love it and you get a break from childcare – everyone’s a winner!

  1. Buy Extra Hair clips!

Anyone with daughters will know how easy it is to lose hair clips. Well it happens even more on holiday. How many times have you cursed while trying to pin back a wild sweaty fringe or do a top knot before swimming and realising that all of your clips or ponies have been abandoned at the pool / beach / plane. Avoid the annoyance – stock up in advance. Click here to see our collection of holiday hair saviours.

     10. Lower expectations

Give up on the thought of it being a relaxing holiday and enjoy it for what it is – time together as a family. As un-relaxing, exhausting, and sometimes infuriating, as it may be you’re still all together and they won’t be small for very long. Just drink wine…

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