I am the kind of person who has to have something to look forward to. A goal, a target, an aim, a focus. For the last six months, that focus was our Centreparks holiday...
I had visions of all the fresh air making the children sleep in longer.
The cycling bringing a chance to chat with the husband about life's banalities, while the children pointed out birds and interesting leaves from their (light) trailers attached to the back.
I imagined no routine or structure to the days. I did not know what "flying by the seat of my pants meant" but I wanted to give it a whirl.
I still don't know, because it never happened.
This is what happens when you go on holiday with three small children...
You spend a long time packing, then unpacking, because you still need some of the items you have packed, because you pack too soon to get packing out the way.
You have an argument with your husband about how much you have packed. He starts unpacking most of it. You tell him you will no longer be going on holiday.
The row means you set off late. Then you had have to go back again anyway because Two has not got any shoes on. (You point out this is because the husband was in too much of a hurry to set off and therefore rushed you. The second row makes you even later, and also kills the holiday mood somewhat.)
You stop at every single service station between your home and your holiday destination because someone always wants a wee but never at the same time as anyone else.
You arrive hot, bothered and ready for bed. Everyone else wants to go and explore and therefore you are a killjoy if you do not join in.
Your children start demanding to go swimming/cycling/pottery painting/face painting/to the playground. You just want a cup of tea, but can't have one because there are none in the cabin and the husband unpacked the emergency ones you planned to bring from home.
You have a long, protracted, painful time trying to get the over excited children down to sleep in unfamiliar territory.
You yourself have a long, protracted, painful time trying to get to sleep in unfamiliar territory. You may even ask the husband to check outside for wolves. (Unlikely yes, but with Longleat Safari Park so nearby, not entirely impossible).
And so follows a week of :
Swimming, where not all your children will like the wave machine.
Your swimsuit will be pulled down at least five times a day by a panicking child or unfunny husband.
You too may well panic in the rapids and cling on to someone who is not your husband. You may not even notice until you spot your husband, some feet away, looking at you quizzically.
You will stand in long queues for waterslides wishing you had found time to wax your bikini line and apply fake tan (NB: Too late to fake tan now. The husband unpacked it)
You will lose your children and panic. The lifeguard will tell you off for running.
You will skid to a stop and fall over. The children, like penguins distinguishing their mother's cry, will recognise your loud swearing as you stub your toe and come running back.
The lifeguard will tell them off too. Your husband will swear at the lifeguard.
There will be a lot of tears on your holiday.
You will have many pine cones of various sizes in your pocket at any one time.
You will spend a long time pulling your (wriggly) children along in (heavy) trailers attached to your bike up steep hills. If this does not sound exhausting, trust me, it is. Especially after three hours of swimming and with a stubbed toe.
Your husband, meanwhile, will think he is Mark Cavendish, keep cutting you up and trying to race you. When he wins he will pull his t shirt over his head and cheer.
If you are a hayfever sufferer you will spend the entire holiday with weeping eyes. Regulars in the Village Starbucks may mutter things like "Look, that miserable cow is here again. Some people don't deserve a nice holiday."
You yourself will start to people-watch and make unfair observations about your fellow holiday makers. Your deductions will mostly be based on how clean their Phil and Teds is,what change bag they have and how short they wear their trousers.
You will begin to go to the same places at the same time each day. Just like at home.
Unlike at home, the kitchen in your cabin will not be stocked with any utensils you need to cook with. This is a ploy by Centreparks to make you eat out in the overpriced restaurants all the time. You had thought of this and so packed kitchen utensils, but the husband will have unpacked them.
Your children will eat a lot of cereal and yoghurts. So will you.
Your children will argue and cry alot, just like at home.
You will start looking forward to bedtime by 3.30pm, just like at home.
You will spend lots of time shaking your mobile high in the air out of windows to get reception. It won't work.
Your husband, missing his iphone and bossing people about at work, will try to boss you about instead. Directives will include:
"Why are your bothering doing that?/bringing that/putting that on the kids. They don't need that/want that/like that"
This will annoy you and cause many rows based round "Him doing his own job and letting you do yours."
You will increasingly be told to "Cheer up, you're on holiday" by your husband, and the staff of Starbucks.
You will begin to count down the sleeps till you go home, then remember that before you go home you will have to pack all the stuff again. (You won't be able to fit it back in the suitcase anyway as it will be full of pine cones that the children can't bear to part with.)
It will rain lots and you will miss the all-in-one rainsuits and emergency ponchos you had planned to bring, before the husband unpacked them.
On the way out the forest, you will suddenly become overwhelmed with sadness that the holiday is over, and start badgering the husband to rebook for next year...
So you have something to look forward to.