As a non-mummy, most years the Easter school holidays pass me by most unremarkably.
This year was different.
For a start, this year saw my first holiday since 2010. Overdue, I think you’ll agree?
Then there was the small matter of it being the first holiday with the lovely boyfriend. And his two children. He has a daughter aged 10 and a son of 13.
Yes, this Easter, #stepmumintraining stepped up a gear!
Five days in a static caravan was not the perfect piece of paradise that we could have wished for. But, it was by no means the terrifying rollercoaster ride that a tiny part of me was expecting.
Our holiday options were a little limited. The lovely boyfriend had a lunchtime appointment at Addenbrookes Hospital for cancer scans (oncologist pleased with progress – fingers and toes crossed the treatment is doing its thing). This meant not being able to leave home until Monday afternoon. He also had to get the children back to their mother’s for 10am on Easter Saturday. This meant travelling home on Good Friday.
None of us felt like losing hour upon hour of the first and last days of our break in traffic so we chose Kessingland in Suffolk for our stay. It seemed the least over-commercialised part of the East Anglian coast and affordable too. We both love North Norfolk for day trips but weren’t sure the kids would remain happy and fulfilled for a week.
The sun was shining as we set off in a very fully-packed little car…travel games included the always popular ‘Cheese On Wheels’ (shout when you see a yellow vehicle!), ‘Oh Dear’ (shout when you see the wildlife road sign with a deer on!), and, new for this trip, taking it in turns to shout out something you can see (I-spy is boring apparently) plus asking for the radio to be turned up or over on several occasions.
It was already evening when we arrived so we had a short dusky walk on the shingle beach after checking in. Then it was time to think about food. The smallest member had already decided on pasta as that’s pretty much all she’ll eat without making a song and dance about it. The rest of us had a chippy tea – rude not to at the seaside if you ask me!
Each morning, the kids and their dad went swimming (I don’t – long story) and I had some quiet time. I already love these children but, when you’re only used to your own space as much as I have been over the last 10 years, the noise and activity has the potential to be a little overwhelming. I had a leisurely shower, tidied the caravan and had an hour on the laptop before making lunch for them to come back to. It worked well for us all I think.
The first day’s main activity was a visit to Africa Alive which of course was right up my street. A great afternoon out with the ‘family’ and the camera, and there was a top trumps game for the kids to do as well so they each came back with a medal which pleased them. Only a 5 minute drive from the holiday park too. Brilliant. I’ll share more photos from here later in the week, I took a few!
Much to the other half’s frustration, the children wanted to spend an inordinate amount of time in Great Yarmouth. It’s what they’re used to with their mother and we tried to understand that they like the familiar but we also wanted things to be different and special for the 4 of us. We earmarked Southwold as the town we wanted to spend more time in but we got over-ruled!
However, much slightly competitive fun was had with bowling, crazy golf, and, air hockey, over the next few days and my golfer’s elbow certainly knew I’d had some leisure time…ouch! All for a good cause though and many giggles were had along the way too.
The Wednesday night was good fun in the entertainment centre. We joined in with a game show, watched some rather near-the-knuckle comedians and did some dancing.
We managed to spend awhile on not just one but three beaches as we visited Lowestoft too. The traffic jams into Yarmouth were already ridiculous on Maundy Thursday so we took a detour. Little girl and I gathered quite the collection of interesting pebbles over the week much to the boys’ amusement.
On our last morning we even found a nature reserve which made for a quieter and calmer atmosphere than the noise and chaos of the amusement arcades. We all needed the walk too after a fabulous brunch in the on-site restaurant. Pancakes with bacon and maple syrup…again, rude not to!
A highlight in the arcade though was the photobooth machine that makes pencil drawings for a pound. We came away with a variety of those! The kids wanted me in a couple too which made me feel very accepted.
Seaside selfies sorted we then made our way home.
There was no utterance of anything along the lines of “you’re not my mum” from either child all week. And, by Friday night we were all still smiling so I’m enjoying all the positives from this experience!
Of course, negatives must be taken into consideration. This week away was a big deal for each and every one of us. Therefore, mistakes and misunderstandings should be seen as lessons rather than failures don’t you think?
I could’ve dealt better with the fact that a ten-year-old girl wanted her dad to sleep in her room.* Plus, I felt he could have explained to her that it wasn’t really necessary or appropriate when she’s very grown-up for her age. This meant I spent the first night of this holiday feeling very cut-off and lonely and definitely like an outsider. As we’d agreed not to be be overly affectionate in front of the children I was definitely miffed not to get much-needed couple time. We could have given each other reassurance and feedback on how things were going. Never do you need a hug more when one isn’t available!
Doing it all again in the Summer…any advice?!
*She does this wherever they are, it wasn’t a reaction to Dad’s new girlfriend. It drives her big brother mad as he feels she steals all of Dad’s precious attention.