‘In the summer it seems like I have another man’

Edith (38): “If we weren’t on vacation, I wonder if Jean and I would still be married. Our daily lives revolve around the almost impossible fitting together of our sons (8 and 10) school, sports and childcare schedules. And then we also have our own appointments outside working hours. In practice, we only see each other in bed, and we are so tired that even then we don’t exchange a word.

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How different it is on vacation. In the run-up, Jean already sends me exciting text messages. And while the boys play with friends at the campsite, we secretly make love in the caravan. When they sleep, we get back to real conversations. And on the return journey we are more in love than ever. We go on holiday three times a year for a reason.”

Great division of tasks

Trude (35): “At home I do everything and my husband nothing. But once on holiday, he can’t get out of the pool with our children (4, 6 and 9), and he also cooks afterwards. Meanwhile, I devour one book after another. Excellent division of tasks, I think; that way it will stay at home for the rest of the year as well.”

For pampus on his sunbed

Mary (40): “Bernard is my childhood sweetheart. Together we run the family like a well-oiled machine. I work a day more than he does, so he does almost everything in the household, taking care of our children aged 5, 7 and 11 we split fifty-fifty.

But once we’re on vacation, he suddenly lets everything fall out of his hands. He doesn’t even help set up our bungalow tent; I do that with our 11-year-old daughter. Shopping, rubbing the children, playing a game of badminton; I do it all without Bernard, because he is lying on his sunbed in front of Pampus. Sometimes I prefer to hit him with the tent pegs around his ears. But yes, hitting is not allowed, we teach our children. So I’m happy when we’re home after two weeks and I just hold my sweet, helpful husband in my arms again.”

One year I choose, the other she

Willemijn (36): “After five years of arguing on vacation, my friend Ross and I made an agreement: one year I choose the trip, the next year he and the kids (7 and 11). I like action and culture, the children and he like sun, sea, sand and lazing around. I’m bored to death on the costa, they think my museums and city walks are boring. In practice, I add more water than they do and we still have more lazy days on ‘my’ travels than action and, well, on ‘their’ vacations too. But I can take it, because as different as we are on vacation, I don’t think that in everyday life there is no couple as aligned as Ross and I.”

More fun without him

Kyra (38): “My friend Laurens and I do everything together, but I spend the holidays with our daughter (5) and son (4) – without him. We are both quite structured, but I can let that go on vacation, as long as I know it’s temporary. Lauren not. The children sleep badly, don’t eat, get dirty and snack more than usual. A thorn in Laurens’ side, which only leads to tensions. So for two years now I have been enjoying our wonderfully structured family life with a ditto relationship, and I go wild with my children in the summer, without a man who gets overstrained.”

Him another beer, me at the sparkling water

Hester (34): “My husband and I are both sports fanatics. He kicks boxing, I do calisthenics. Our daughters (5 and 7) sympathize with our regime of high-protein and low-carbohydrate food and lie next to us on their own fitness mats on Sunday mornings. But once we’re on vacation, my husband unabashedly lets things hang while I run my all-important lap every morning. And while he takes another beer, I open my second bottle of sparkling water. I’m glad when we’re back home, because it makes him grumpy, the unhealthy food, and it doesn’t make him sexier in my opinion.”

Refuel

Fabienne (37): “’What are you doing now?’ our daughter (8) asked last summer, when she caught us in the mobile home one morning just having fun between the sheets. My children don’t know that, that mom and dad hug and make love. We are so busy, with our own catering business and the worries outside it, that sex is the last thing on our list of priorities. But on holiday we refuel completely, often twice a day. Well, that we got caught once? I think it’s really good for the kids if they see that mom and dad are still lovers, even if it’s almost only in the summer.”

Luckily we have holidays

Lauren (42): “My boyfriend and I have been together for four years. We struggle all year round. It is almost impossible to reconcile his life with his daughter (10) with my life with my sons (11 and 12). In all that time, he and his daughter have only been with me for four weekends. The other way around, we visit him a little more often. But there is always a sports game in the way, or a busy week of testing for one of the children. That doesn’t happen on vacation.

Last year we spent four weeks in a house in Corsica. We had such a good time there with the five of us. Fortunately, our exes cooperate, so we’re doing it again this year. Thank God, because if we didn’t have this, I wouldn’t know how to base our relationship on the scant time we otherwise have together.”

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‘From now on I will go on holiday alone with the children’ >

A man out of thousands

Khadjia (34): “I would understand if my husband Ahmed would leave things alone on vacation. He works sixty hours a week as a contractor and often works on weekends as well. The joke is: where I rarely see him in normal life, on holiday he is suddenly the paterfamilias. He makes the best barbecue dishes, spends days with our daughters (9 and 10) rowing, trampolining and watching movies, and – when they sleep – is fun for me too. Maybe he just has more energy than me. But one thing is certain: on those holidays I realize more than ever that I have one man in a million.”

Much more relaxed after the divorce

Ronja (39): “Jelle and I have been separated for three years, but we still spend the holidays with our children (6, 8 and 10) together. His often self-centered attitude and laxity in upbringing I still find disturbing in daily life. But that’s not the case on vacation, and I know that after those three weeks I’ll be done with it, when everyone goes back to their own home. The holidays together since we separated have been the best so far.”

Not more than a week

Abigail (29): “I fell for Marlon because of his independence and free thinking. He with me on exactly the same. Even since we have children (now 3 and 5), we keep our own lives. We don’t do much together, except Sunday morning breakfast in bed. Then it is a chaos of sprinkles between the sheets, romps and coffee stains on the pillow and we are all very happy.

But three weeks on vacation and all day on each other’s lips? Then we fight each other out of the tent. We both need a lot of space, and neither tolerate much criticism when dealing with our children. Marlon has few rules, I am fairly strict. That clashes. So we limit the holidays to a week; we have a lot more fun at home.”

And then suddenly he flips for nothing

Tit (34): “Honestly: my friend Arend is just not doing so well, a blended family. We are only on the holidays and sometimes on weekends; during the week we both live in our own houses. Personally, I find it quite spicy, bringing his sons aged 10 and 12 together for three whole weeks with my children aged 6, 7 and 9, mainly because of different parenting views, mutual struggles and sometimes counteracting exes.

Although Arend can still manage to stay cozy under the tensions that sometimes entails during the two weekends a month, during the holidays that is really too much for him. Then he explodes when an ill-conceived word is spoken about his children or he suddenly freaks out about the twenty pairs of shoes in the rented mobile home. We thrive better with normal life. That’s why I’m going on vacation this summer alone with my kids and he with his. My boyfriend and I will be much happier for the rest of the year.”

This article was previously published in Kek Mama.

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