Written by Daisy Leverington


Motherhood: Tootling off on holiday with a toddler

Motherhood hasn’t come naturally to Daisy Leverington. Three-and-a-bit years in and she remains wide-eyed, terrified and in awe of the little person she’s responsible for. This week she reports back from the frontline of family holidays.

Funland amusement arcade signHaving recently arrived home from a holiday with our daughter, I found myself redefining the word ‘holiday’.

I’ve decided ‘Geographically Different Tantrum Location With Added Sealife’ is better, and catchier. Hope we’re all on board with the change.

To be fair, we did all really enjoy ourselves, but not being seasoned travellers, it was a week not without its challenges. We loaded our car with enough beach towels and tinned goods to survive the apocalypse and headed east towards the sun, clear waters and relaxation of… um… Skegness.

“Unless you count overpriced sun-warmed fish-sticks and the pubic regions of hoards of drunk teens, we sadly didn’t see any crabs.”

We’d done our best to prep the child for the trip. Information had been imparted about the journey time, the apartment we were to stay in, the beach, the pool, the donkeys and the ice cream.

Overloaded with ideas about what was to happen, she would state, “we’re going to run away from a giant pretend crab on the sand” when asked what we were going to do on holiday.

With such high expectations, we were sure to disappoint. Unless you count overpriced sun-warmed fish-sticks and the pubic regions of hoards of drunk teens, we sadly didn’t see any crabs. We did run away from an errant dog turd though, so that was fun.

Daisy's child looking grumpily at a butterflyWe arrived to bright sunshine and headed for the beach. I’d forgotten that Skegness beach has a fun layer of sludge in between the beach and sea, and what a joy it was to watch my daughter discover it in her new holiday swimwear.

I’d also forgotten how windy it is. ‘Bracing’, they call it in all their literature. ‘Bloody Bastard Freezing’ would be more apt, and would sell more postcards if you ask me.

It was too windy to get the wind-break up, and in a scene not unlike my holiday with my mum circa 1991, I used it as a blanket and cracked open the special holiday wine.

The sludge and wind seemed to spur on the child, and fuelled by two ice-creams and a stick of rock she paddled until she turned blue. By then I was half-cut and roaring to climb something (that’s what happens when I drink), so we headed to Butlins to find something to climb that wouldn’t get me arrested.

My husband loves it when I’m like this. It reminds him of the time I got stuck up a pole in Finsbury Park at 4am and makes him remember why he fell in love with me.

Butlins was pretty awesome. Our apartment was bigger than anything we’d rented in London and the kid ran from room to room until she settled on a bed she liked. By now we’d gotten through four outfits in less than a day so we went to the pool to clean the beach sludge off her a bit.

I’m going to borrow a comparison from Susan Calman here and describe my swimsuit as a ‘Victorian strong man’ leotard. My daughter, ever tactful, asked why I was wearing “so much clothes”. Her derisory laughter still rings in my ears after she found out it was my swimming costume. It cuts me deep now I’ve sobered up.

“I adopted the age-old mum’s adage, ‘when too self-conscious for the pool, hit the slots’. Apparently I’m a dab hand at the grabber machines.”

The holiday was supposed to be a break for my husband and I too, as I’ve been working long hours recently. However, to mitigate against the grown ups having any sexyfuntime, I thoughtfully arranged for a Mega Period to arrive just in time for the holiday too.

A tsunami of irritable tension descended, culminating in a stout refusal to get in the swimming pool.

I adopted the age-old mum’s adage, ‘when too self-conscious for the pool, hit the slots’. Apparently I’m a dab hand at the grabber machines and won a shed load of stuffed toys for the child while she went swimming.

Daisy's child playing in the sandMy husband and daughter found me sulking in a pile of Despicable Me dolls back at the flat. Everyone was a winner that day.

In truth, the holiday was awesome. We all survived the close confinement and the child even ate some pasta on day four after three solid days of an exclusively sugar-based diet.

We laughed more than we have in months, sometimes not at the child but mostly at the child. She got up at 6am and fizzed like an Alka-Seltzer until we dragged ourselves to the earliest kids’ show, usually something involving drama-school trained actors in mouse suits.

It was an utter joy. And if anyone knows how to work TripAdvisor feel free to link this up for me; I’m still too wind-burnt to use my hands properly.

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Written by Daisy Leverington

Daisy Leverington - Actor, mother, expert at winging it.