HOLIDAYS ARE COMING... AND SO ARE kIDS' CLUBS
It's that time of year where we start counting down the days to our week in the sun. For some of us it's the opportunity to spend a week or two hanging out as a family and sharing simple moments that will become the foundation stones of our children's happiest childhood memories.
Perhaps it will be sandcastle competitions on sun-drenched beaches; slurping melting ice cream off sticky little fingers; renting bikes and going for a family cycle along the marina; burying mum or dad up to their necks in sand.
For others, holidays are all about resting and recuperating, and seeing as little of their kids as possible. I'm talking about the couples who rock up at their preferred resort manically clutching that form confirming their week's worth of pre-booked childcare.
They've been working hard all year, damn it, and nothing's going to stand in the way of their date with a sun lounger and chilled cosmopolitan. Not even their much-loved little darling.
I've seen it so many times before: as soon as the kids' club opens teams of well-groomed parents sidle up with babes in arms.
They're always prepared to put in a half hour to settle junior in with his new nannies, but you can see them anxiously watching that clock: heaven forbid this should eat into valuable downtime before their spa rendezvous at 10 o'clock.
It's even more painful when you know their baby won't settle. You see them hopping up and down like yo-yos from their sun loungers, abandoning yet another iced coffee to respond to that nuisance call from the kids' club: "Baby isn't settling in at all. Can you return to comfort them?"
Eventually you just sense where it's all leading: junior is not playing ball and no amount of token mollycoddling will convince the wee mite they're having a better time indoors with a bunch of unfamiliar kids, than outdoors splashing around with their upwardly mobile mummy and daddy.
The call finally comes through: "We've exhausted all options. Baby just isn't happy. Please come and collect him."
While it may be tough for tots on tour, there's nothing worse than a week's worth of off-season childcare for an older kid.
Have you ever witnessed a lonesome eight-year-old playing mid-morning tennis with a childcare worker because there are no other children in the kids' club? Most are back home in school and those that have been whisked away on a truancy-rated holiday are busily playing at the pool with their parents. Parents who booked a family holiday to act like a family.
For the record, I think kids' clubs are a great idea. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have doting grandparents or siblings who can mind the kids for a week, so they fulfil a much-needed demand.
Holiday childcare should be guilt-free and enjoyed by everyone.
Like most parents, I'll still book my crew in for the odd childcare session on holidays.
I love that quiet time as much as the next cosmo-slurping mummy, but nothing would make me trade it for those priceless family Kodak moments.