To stay or go?

Published Friday, 25 July 2014
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We're two weeks into the school summer holidays and anyone with children knows what this means. Mayhem.

Most years we go abroad somewhere, but having spent thousands of pounds in the past, I've learnt the hard way that going away with two young children does not make for a relaxing break, even if we could afford to choose a five star hotel with all the trimmings. The fantasy is something like this. We lounge by the pool, cocktail in hand while the children play ecstatically until they grow tired and fall into a peaceful deep sleep. We then have our dinner on the balcony watching the sun set over the horizon. Bliss.

Ok, reality check! What actually happens is this. It's too hot, the kids get very grumpy in their unfamiliar surroundings, there's usually an allergy of some sort thrown in for good measure (which then involves a trip to hospital with lots of misunderstandings and a big fat bill at the end). Sleep? No, we all toss and turn, sweaty and bothered every night. In summary, it's miserable.

Everyone keeps telling me "they're still too young; leave it for a few years then it'll be great". So armed with this deeply wise advice, this year I decided to keep it local. I rang around my friends, who are littered in villages and towns across Ireland and called in a few wee favours (everyone's happy to put you up for a night, right?). I packed up the car and off we went on our merry way. Road tripping around Ireland with two very excited little rascals and an angelic friend who helped out no end!

This was not only far more enjoyable because there are no airports, long travel days and there's no luggage allowance to contend with, but it also transpired to be far friendlier on the old bank balance. There was the added bonus of catching up with friends too, some who now have families of their own, and so there were plenty of new toys for my pair to get stuck into. My child-free friends loved the novelty factor and even bought new toys in anticipation. For Liam and Kate, it was a second Christmas in summer!

I didn't get off totally scot-free though (there was still a trip to the doctors due to a fall off a trampoline and yep thanks very much that'll be fifty euros please). All of us also suffered from that ailment known as 'Northern Irish sunburn' due to a deceptively cloudy day. Overall though, I couldn't recommend it more highly. If you're debating whether to venture abroad with young kids or stay closer to home, I'd say go for the latter every time.

Of course, it all seems like a distant memory now we're back. This week, just as it was all getting too much, The Black Keys saved my soul. I'd forgotten how music has the ability to move and inspire you. On cue as I'm being taken away into that fourth dimension, I'm brought back to reality by a toy fight.

© UTV News
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5 Comments
Geraldine in Belfast wrote (77 days ago):
Too right, staycations are the way forward ! Sure who needs the stress when we have such a beautiful country to explore full of magical stories for children to learn
Ann Marie in Belfast wrote (81 days ago):
Sonia, this made me laugh. Having a 'staycation' is the best solution when the children are so young. You made a wise decision! Sorry to hear about the visit to the doctor but at least there were no language barriers to deal with! Keep writing!!!
Anne Mc Tigue in Co. Galway wrote (82 days ago):
Hey Sonia, I think a holiday is for me one away from the dreaded cooker and sink, we have done package holidays but it normally was me with heat rash, I think a holiday anywhere is great to refresh batteries and to ease up on the normal discipline and rules a bit. Glad you enjoyed your break apart from doctor's bill. Interesting topic, enjoy the rest of the holidays, Anne
Frank connolly in West of Ireland wrote (83 days ago):
This type of holiday sounds like mighty craic Sonia!!!!!
desi in north down wrote (85 days ago):
well done Sonya!! Very informative... Your Mum and Dad im sure are very, very proud of you. Desi
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Sonia Butterworth
Sonia Butterworth

Sonia is a broadcast journalist and writer. She began freelancing for UTV in December 2012 having worked for several TV and Radio outlets.

She lives in Belfast with her two children, Liam and Kate, and her husband Keith.

In the (little) spare time she has she likes to write and just for good measure plays guitar and sings (although these days her audience tends to be age 4 and under).

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