When you have kids, of course! It’s not really a ‘holiday’, is it? I mean, it’s just doing the stuff you do every day, only in a different place and with a whole new set of challenges – yay!
Family Thing are currently running around like mad things getting ready for a (hopefully) two-week trip away. Part of me is really excited; we’re going on our first road trip in our new car/minivan – The Beast – and we’re camping for the first time since Tink came along. The other part of me is screaming (in my head) “what the hell are we thinking?! We’re going away, for two weeks, sleeping in a tent/the car, with no access to wi-fi, no reliable, regular way to charge gadgets and a child who is on the autism spectrum!” What could possibly go wrong?
Everything. Everything could go wrong. Life with a child on the spectrum is unpredictable enough without added complications. Or nothing! We might have the most fantastic time and wonder why we never did it sooner.
I’m trying not to think about the fact that we will all be in each other’s company 24/7, with little to no chance of escape, even for a little while. Not only that, but our sleeping arrangements, which are already dubious at home, where we play musical beds most nights, will be even more off-kilter, with the plan being that the kids and I will sleep in the car (it’s really, really big!) and Dave will be in the tent. Yep. We’ll see how that goes on night one – there is room for manoeuvre if needs be! But whatever, a peaceful night’s rest is not going to happen (no change there, then!).
Then there’s the eating thing. We have enough trouble with Tink at home, where she is periodically refusing to eat once-favourite things. Tonight, for example, she has turned her nose up at fish fingers and I am trying not to hyperventilate, consoling myself with the thought that she won’t be able to eat them while camping anyway, other than if we go for a pub tea once or twice. Maybe she’ll like them again once we’re home and she’s missed them? What she will eat is pretty limited, and, add that to the fact that what we can cook on a camping stove is also a fairly short list, mealtimes should be fun! Oh yes, we won’t have a fridge either…
And then there’s keeping clean. Tink has only just about allowed us to shower her and even then it’s hit and miss as to whether she’ll do it without screaming. I can’t imagine she’ll be happy with the often primitive showers at the campsites we’ll be staying at (we’re talking farmer’s fields here, rather than big, all-singing, all-dancing holiday parks). So, today I bought one of those plastic trug things to give her ‘baths’ in instead. Hell, I’m not happy with communal showers, full of grass in the trays and moths round the lights :shudder:, so maybe I’ll get in the trug too!
Oh, and then, we’re in England! It’s summer! It will rain! And camping in the rain is just the best! No, really, it’s so much fun when everything is wet and covered in a layer of mud and grass and you can’t get away from it because your house is outside too!
But, for all these worries, I am thinking about the positives, the things to look forward to.
I am thinking about how Tink absolutely loves being outdoors. She’ll be in her absolute element. Especially if it rains. We’ll ignore the mud and yuck, because she will be running around in it, jumping in it and smiling her precious little face off.
She’ll love having so much space in which to run around and chase H. She’ll adore being on the beach, where she can splash in the shallow waves and eat sand and knock over other kids’ sand castles. And there will be ice cream.
She’ll be so busy just being, that she’ll forget all about her tablet and it won’t matter that it’s not charged or there’s no wi-fi to watch YouTube. Hopefully, she’ll get used to wonky mealtimes and eating slightly odd things in strange places.
She’ll get used to her bedroom being a car, and waking up early because the sun is peeping in through the makeshift curtains won’t be a problem as she is usually up at the crack of dawn anyway.
She’ll find bathing in a tub hilarious, because she’ll probably have splashed all the water out before we can even get her clean, making muddy puddles on the ground in which to jump as soon as bathtime is over, meaning we start all over again.
And most of all? As much as they all drive me nuts, I am really looking forward to spending time together as a family; having a brand new adventure, experiencing new things and learning more about each other once we’re away from our familiar surroundings and routines. I’m looking forward to my early-morning cuppa, the smell of cooking bacon wafting in the air at breakfast time and sitting with Dave in the twilight eating biscuits and drinking wine while the kids (hopefully) sleep after a day of fresh air and sunshine.
It may not be a ‘holiday’ in the conventional sense of the word, but it’s not normal life and that is just about as good.
(Oh, and if you’re interested in seeing what we get up to, follow us on Facebook – @Adventuresinthebeast , which we’ll try to update as and when signals and data allow!)