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30 June 2016

Rebecca Reid, author and mother-of-three from Bangor gets set for the holidays.

Summer is here! The kids have tossed their uniforms in the laundry for the final time. Emptied all the junk from their schoolbags into the bin and kissed goodbye to the old lunchbox and flask. Yes, it’s no more ‘good night’ sleeps for early starts, or afternoons cooped up doing homework. Things have just got fun. It’s time to camp in the garden any day of the week, run around outside until the sun is chilling with night and then fall asleep to the chatter of grown ups on the grass. This, is, summer. And to start it all off, we’re heading off on holiday.

As every parent knows, holidaying with three kids is no simple, or mess-free business. It takes strategic planning, foresight and the ultimate in organisational skills. Military style. First things first – backseat goody bags. It started when I was a child and now I’ve passed the gift onto my own kids (with the knowledge of the parental benefits – this is not just about giving the kids a whale of a time on a long journey; it’s about keeping the adults sane). I spend weeks shopping for in car entertainment. Puzzle books. Colouring. Silly squirty, noisy, twirly things. Glitter tattoos that don’t need water. Invisible ink pens that don’t stain clothes. Books for every age group. If done right, these bags can bring joy for hours, time and again.

Then comes the packing. Now, believe it or not, I’m a lover of packing. Perhaps that’s because I love to organise and this is the gold card of organisation – packing for a family of four without missing out a thing. Nothing like a good challenge. The only slight glitch is we’re holidaying in Ireland, deep south, but Ireland all the same. So I’m not just kitting everyone out for summer, I’m covering all eventualities. A week of sun, with a dashing of showers and the possible blast of Arctic wind. This means, sandals and wellies. Sun hats and rain coats. Dresses and jumpers. We bring barbeques and umbrellas to cook them beneath. But where’s the joy in predictability. Right?
So we’re packed and ready, everything in the car, including the dog and just about excluding the kitchen sink. Kids, teddies, snuggle blankies, and oh yes, food. Lots and lots of food. You know the feeling, when your knees are at your chin because your parents rammed enough bags beneath your feet to guarantee you’d sink like a stone in a flood. There are things propped behind your head, more squeezed in beneath your arms, so you’re scared to move in case you dislodge something and it all comes crashing down. No, you don’t remember this? Oh, I do. And they would always say, ‘Don’t worry, there’ll be less coming back.’

And they were right in one sense, yes, there was much less stuff coming back with us, but there were many, many more memories and that car could just about burst with joy. That’s the holiday I always aim for, and hopefully, when it’s my girls’ turns to be the parent, they’ll remember them just as fondly as I do. Knees to chin and everything.

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