Switch off, put feet up, unwind!


For all those who despise the amount of holiday time that people working in education get, yes this is essentially a holiday within a holiday! I can’t defend the amount of time we get off, it is what it is, but you can sit smugly and gloat over your last minute 5 star all inclusive holiday that cost you £200 in the middle of June that I will never get to enjoy! My 5 start all inclusive holiday to the same destination will cost £1500 because I have no choice over when I take it!

Consequently, our first family holiday away was never going to be in the mediterranean, not only because of the ridiculously over inflated prices, but also because I have a toddler who I would have to spend a week covering up or hiding in the shade so that she didn’t get burnt, making us look like terrible parents who should be reported to social services for neglect! I also have a wife, who burns just as easily, and would take just as much covering up and hiding in the shade, and thats if she didn’t just plain melt away on the first day! So we had to look somewhere a little bit more sensible, and for me there was only one option… Torquay! I’d always wanted to go, I love the south coast and it was potentially our best chance of good weather within the UK, I’m a big fan of Devon and Cornwall, and lastly, if we did have any sun related health problems we were only a couple of hours from home and not far from an english speaking hospital!

I’d done some research a few months in advance, and found what looked like the perfect bed and breakfast. Being a big fan of tripadvisor, I checked out many of the reviews, and was surprised to see that the hotel I had just booked ONLY had 4 and 5 star reviews! This is pretty much a first for me, there is normally always at least a few negative ones, I take these with a pinch of salt of course, but no, not this time! I had a good feeling about this!

Finally the countdown went from weeks to days and we were packing to go, after a pretty straight forward drive we could see the sea and we’d arrived! I wasn’t disappointed! The room was lovely, the owners were amazingly friendly and helpful, and they just couldn’t do enough for us! The bed was super comfy, the place was absolutely spotless, and they cooked a fantastic breakfast! On top of which , we were a mere five minute walk from the harbour and a massive selection of places to eat!

The weather forecast leading up to this week hadn’t been fantastic, but thankfully changed at the last minute and we were blessed with some sunshine and warm weather, it was lovely. All I had hoped for was that our first family holiday and last holiday for a few years at least wasn’t going to be a rain soaked flop! I’d had visions of taking Olivia to the beach, splashing in the sea, and building sandcastles, as well as getting a bit of sun on my skin… and thankfully thats exactly what we did! We took in a couple of beaches, although Oddicombe beach was horrible and shingly, I just don’t get why people go there! Goodrington Sands on the other hand was a lovely beach, and we had a great day out! We also got to visit Paignton Zoo, which was a huge place and a lovely day, and we found out my aunt and uncle were staying close by, so we hooked up with them for afternoon tea in a beautiful quiet idyllic village called Cockington. On the very last day we enjoyed a ferry ride from Torquay across to Brixham, a bargain at only £3 for a return ticket! Olivia loved being on the boat, and we got a good 30-35 minute ride each way out of it, which kept madam quiet for a while! All in all, it was the perfect break, we made the most of each day (Olivia’s afternoon naps permitting!) and ate well, relaxed, and came home feeling like we’d been there a lot longer, in a good way! If you’re going to Torquay and looking for a room, check out the Ravenswood Hotel, you will not be disappointed!

Coming home sadly meant that firstly Clare is back to work, and secondly I am now into the fourth week of six of the holidays! They seem to be flying by so fast! It has been wonderful to have the time off to spend time with Olivia, the evenings just never seem long enough when I get home from work, as there is only a couple of hours before she is in bed. We do have her in a really good sleep routine though, and by half seven we are usually getting ready to read her a story and put her to bed. The girl needs her sleep, and as parents we need our adult time too! Sometimes having Olivia in such a good sleep routine can feel restrictive when you want to do things with your afternoon or your evening, but the long term benefits are worth the sacrifice now. I have some friends whose children have no bedtime routines, who are still up at 11pm and consequently struggle to get up in the morning. Each to their own, of course,  but if thats how they are as toddlers, then that habit that is going to be hard to break further down the line, and once they start school it is going to make EVERY single school morning a nightmare, trying to drag them out of bed. They will then be going to school tired, and will struggle to focus on the lessons. I certainly don’t want to be that pushy parent that makes my child work like a robot, but what I do want is to create some good habits that will give her the best chance at a good start! I think its the little things that make a difference too, like making sure that as much fun as we have, she still knows who the boss is! Kids need boundaries and an appropriate level of discipline, I don’t understand households that are run by a screaming five year old. I hate to see parents screaming, and sometimes swearing, at their children in the street because they haven’t been given any boundaries and now won’t do as they’re told! Olivia is reaching her second birthday soon, and we are already getting a taste of what may lie in store for us when the “terrible twos” begins. It will be a real test of strength and determination, but I can be especially stubborn when I need to be, and I am ready for any battle of wills that she wants to throw at me. If a child knows boundaries, and learns respect that we are hopefully setting ourselves up for less tantrums and an easier ride. I think working in a special needs school for so long has really helped me to learn some qualities that will come in useful.

It may sound like I have all this figured out, but the truth is that I still have no idea what is around the corner, or what problems Olivia is going to drop in our lap, or how I will end up dealing with them, but I do at least feel ready for the battle!

With number two on the way though, I am sure that most of my plans and good ideas will end up redundant and my rapidly greying hair will end up getting thinner as I pull more and more of it out!

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