The words chilling out and holiday are synonymous, unless you have four princes. Going away on a sea side holiday with the Princes this week has been full of melting, double scoop, mint and vanilla ice creams, car fights (why can’t they sit and keep their hands and feet to themselves?), sitting on a hot, sandy beach watching anxiously so that a life saver doesn’t have to repeat his Iron Man run and swim to save Prince No. 3 from being swept away by a rip current (why doesn’t he listen when I tell him ‘Don’t go too deep’?).

On such holidays I used to get ratty and cross. I just wanted to read, write and in general be left alone so I wouldn’t get sand in my hair, and every crevice of my body that no amount of showering would remove. This attitude obviously worked for no one. So I changed. I (consciously) relaxed and found some solutions that helped me cope better with the fact that family holidays don’t necessarily mean relaxing.

Morning Me Time
I have an arrangement with my husband where each of us take turns to take time out early in the morning for ourselves and do what we want to do, whilst the other holds the fort. On my morning I wake up early and do yoga or go for a run, or (when I’m just plain lazy) go for a coffee. It’s enough to refresh me for the kiddie day ahead, so that I join in and have fun, without feeling that I don’t have my own time.

Be A Kid
A part of me has had to accept that holidays with the Princes, is a family holiday, a time to relax in a kid way, doing fun activities that take me back to my childhood. I know this seems obvious, but it took me a while to reach the stage of acknowledging my inner child and bringing her out to play with the Princes. This week I’ve done a lot of that. We’ve been rock climbing at the beach rock pools looking for fish with our nets. We’ve been for a million ice creams on our bikes. We went strawberry picking and horse riding for the first time (I was terrified). Challenging myself to do new things with them has expanded all our horizons. And in the evenings when I’m back to my grumpy, grownup self at least we all know that we’ve had a fabulous fun filled day.

Quiet Time
Sometimes I tell the Princes that it’s quiet time (a good friend once gave me this holiday idea). It’s a time for reading, building lego, anything quiet. It doesn’t always work, especially with the younger ones. But the concept is important on holiday. We don’t always have to be busy, busy, busy. It’s okay to be quiet and just relax. And the ultimate cheat is to put a DVD on. That’s at least one hour of guaranteed peace and quiet.

Get a Babysitter
Where ever I travel in the world I hire local babysitters. My nights are a sacred opportunity to hit the town with my husband, or even on my own. (Not that we do anything more exciting than go to a coffee shop or restaurant – sorry to disappoint.) This is so important for our marriage and it gives us our own adult time to connect. Leaving us rejuvenated to be happy loving parents.

Forgive and Move On
There will always be blow ups and bang ups on holiday. We spend an unusually long time together as a family on holiday and the cracks in relationships appear. I see my family dynamics clearer on holiday. Sometimes we get into tremendous fights over stupid things like what DVD to rent. Forgiving myself for the silly arguments and my mistakes helps me move on. These arguments highlight what I need to build in my relationships with the Princes. Our relationship deficits are often lost in ‘the next thing to do of our weekly, rigid school schedule. With our free holiday time I resolve to play more monopoly, spend time looking at their village empires on Clash of Clans, and summoning the energy for that one more bike ride to the shops for Salt and Vinegar chips.

Holidays are a family investment. They’re the golden years when our children are young and not at camp and still want to be with us. I’m trying to remember this. To hold on to the moments and enjoy the connecting time. I’ve finally learnt that that’s what family holidays are for. So I now embrace school holidays and just relax into it (most of the time).

The Best Wheat Free Almond & Orange Cake

This is the most moist, delicious, orangey cake recipe that I found in a magazine. I’ve made it to great acclaim, and the biggest secret is to serve it with fresh cream! (Without the cream it’s dairy free which is also great.)

2 Oranges
6 Eggs Seperated
250g Sugar
250g Ground Almonds
5ml Baking Powder
Orange Zest to garnish
Icing Sugar, to garnish
Whipped Cream or Mascarpone to garnish

Cook the oranges in boiling water for about 1 hour and allow to cool.
Preheat the oven to 190 C and prepare a springform pan with baking paper.
Remove the pips from the oranges, place in a food processor and liquidise the oranges, skins and all. Set aside. (I forgot to take the pips out and it still worked. Although I wouldn’t do it again.)
Beat the egg yolks and sugar together until pale and creamy. Add the almonds, baking powder and liquidised oranges and mix well.
Beat the egg whites to form soft peaks and then fold into the batter. Pour, then spread evenly into the prepared tin.
Bake for about 20 minutes on the top shelf then remove to a lower shelf if the cake starts to brown on top (I sometimes cover with foil if I feel the cake may burn). The baking time will be about 40 minutes to 1 hour in total.
Sprinkle the baked cake with orange zest and icing sugar and serve with chilled whipped cream or Mascarpone on the side.