Sarah Said That On Tour: WELLIES & WINE – the joys of caravaning with kids 

So last week I embarked upon a mini 3 day holiday with the boys. My sister owns a beautiful little caravan in North Wales and we thought we might spend a few days by the seaside, leaving the men at home, drinking wine, and soaking up a bit of sun. 

My hubby was more than supportive… ‘it’s going to be wonderful’ he said. I guess though he meant wonderful for him – who doesn’t want three nights of eating microwave burgers and ordering kebabs, getting at least four to five solid hours of sleep in a row and being able to blissfully go to the toilet on your own?

I guess I had figured it wasn’t going to be easy, or ‘relaxing’, but I was hopefully going to enjoy making some happy memories with the boys that didn’t involve our weekly trip to Pets At Home. Win. 

And my sister is super aunt; a get up and go, where all the fun is at, kinda girl. She’s done the parenting thing, has an awesome 12-year-old (who also came along for the ride). She’s ready to muck in with the nappy changes, imaginary dinosaur play and doesn’t mind walking around all day with baby sick stains on her top. Double win. 

However what actually transpired over the next few days was what I could only describe as some kind of Freaky Friday role-reversal – and I’m not quite sure if it’s a good or a bad thing, or if either of us will ever fully recover… 

Mama, a sleep deprived, stress head control freak, found some weird kind of release (most likely from the abundance of wine – from a box, if you’re wondering).

Sister, normally pretty laid back and chilled, found herself mentally taken back 10 years whilst being aged another 10. The joys and demands of very young children – doubled, and on steroids (anyone who has met my biggest boy will understand).

Here’s how the mini break transpired.

DAY 1:

On getting everyone into the car to leave, baby projectiles over car, seat, self, the postman across the road….Then on arriving in caravan baby decides to projectile AGAIN all over upholstery (which also happens to pull out into the bed in which we will be sleeping later, great!)

Mama is beside herself, we are HUNDREDS of miles away from Daddy, we’ve only been here two minutes and we’ve ALREADY destroyed the only seating area and we have NOT packed enough clothes for this many stops of the chunder train – HELP! 
Sister calmly hands mummy a large glass of wine, and proceeds to wipe down baby, sofas, car seat whilst simultaneously ordering pizzas for all. As you do. 

DAY 2:

First Beach visit down and it’s now starting to rain so we haul-ass back to the caravan. Toddler decides to ‘have a little rest’ in his cousins bed and watch some TV (there are NO naps on holiday, oh no, just in case the rain decides to stop and he misses out on something ‘super fun’). Unfortunately he seems to relax a little too much and proceeds to p*ss all over the bed. 

Wonderful. I am mortified. I have a mini meltdown. My children are proceeding to annihilate every sleeping area in the entire caravan in the quickest time possible. But luckily I already know where the wine is kept! And think s*d it, and just reach for the bottle, and a straw. 

Sister takes one look at the expanding yellow stain, I see her smile falter for a teeny tiny second but just as quickly it’s gone and she snaps into action with the 1001 and stripping off sheets.

DAY 3:

Rainy start so we head to THE place of many happy childhood memories for me – the amusement arcade. I am literally gobsmacked at how quickly my £10 toddler budget dissapears. I mean WTF I might as well just given my son a ten pound note to roll up and do his usual attempt to shove into the holes in the speakers next to the TV, along with half a dozen other things things he put in there that I’m blatantly never getting back. 
And you know what, the distraction might have lasted a bit longer!!

Back to the van for some tea, baby needs a power nap but in the absence of a clean and dry sofa, or a clean and dry bed, we have to fashion him some kind of cot using the kitchen sink stuffed with blankets. OK. 

Toddler needs some entrainment whilst we try and keep the noise levels to a minimum so we suggest he goes outside and ‘washes’ the shells and (dead) crabs we all collected from our beach trip yesterday (mama is very excited to use these to make a pinterest-worthy treasure box when we get home!) And yes! He toddles off outside and is nice and quiet for quite some time. 

Actually, maybe a little TOO quiet? 


He blatantly got bored of washing shells in all of about 2 minutes, and decided to see what else he could ‘wash’. 

A bucket and spade, his wellies, Auntie’s wellies, Auntie’s trainers, Mummy’s hairdryer, his cousin’s DS, all the clothes in baby brother’s suitcase, next door’s pug…

And to top it off the outside tap has been running for f*ck knows how long and the caravan is surrounded by a knee deep swamp, whilst toddler is merrily running around shouting ‘THICK OOZY MUD!!!” much to his delight.

I sigh, but, there’s no meltdown – I already have wine this time, in fact the wine was opened about half an hour ago, as if magically I knew. I’m chilled, I’m cool, I’m a little bit tipsy – but at least the kids are happy, and alive.  

Sister is… WHERE IS SISTER?!? I glance around expecting to see her emerging from the caravan with khaki waders and big rubber gloves but she’s nowhere to be seen… Hmmm something isn’t quite right with this picture folks. 

And then I hear it, a gentle tapping coming from inside the caravan’s storage cupboard. Reluctantly I go to open the door just in case I find my child has been kidnapping the chickens who are free to wander about the campsite…But no, no chickens. It’s my sister, barricaded inside the broom cupboard gently rocking back and forth in the dark, babbling incoherently (I am wondering if I’ll need to chuck her in a barrel of cold water like Kurt Russell did to Goldie Hawn in Overboard…)

I crouch down and hand her a glass of wine and she takes a few sips, slowly coming back round. 

The transformation is complete.

Going on holiday with kids is so much fun, but crazy hard work. Especially if you’ve kind of forgotten just how much hard work very young kids are, and particularly if you have kids anywhere near as spirited as mine and are headed into a confined space and unpredictable British weather…

That is why wine was invented. 

And sisters. 

Someone to take a little bit of that stress away from you, just for short while, and because they know they can hand them back in a few days. 

So she can get on with the rest of her much- deserved relaxing summer holidays. 

Which unfortunately will now involve re-upholstering, mattress shopping and bridge building. 

I think I’ll send her a dozen boxes of wine…

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