Sympathy as Mom Shares 'Awful' First Holiday Abroad With 4-Year-Old

The internet has reassured a mother who felt like a "failure" for not being able to enjoy family holidays with her 4-year-old—telling her that all children are like that, but there are some things she can do about it.

In a post shared Tuesday on Mumsnet, a mother who goes by the username SatelliteFish, revealed that she's finding being on holiday with her daughter "awful" and is considering flying back early for this reason.

"She's loving the fun bits," SatelliteFish wrote of her child, "but if she's not eating ice cream, swimming, bouncing on a bouncy castle etc she's having a meltdown, mis-behaving or moaning. Won't eat a single meal nicely, won't go to bed nicely, won't do anything nicely unless it's a fun activity.

"Epic (and I mean epic) meltdown today because I wouldn't buy her a lollipop because her behavior had been terrible. I said no and explained why & stuck to my guns. I do try to be strict and have some discipline but just feel like a failure."

She explained that her family's trip to Europe is their first ever family holiday abroad due to COVID, and that they've been looking forward to it for years. But now it's so awful that she just wants to fly home.

According to the U.S. Family Travel Survey, conducted by the Family Travel Association (FTA) in collaboration with the NYU School of Professional Studies, nearly nine in 10 parents (88 percent) are likely to travel with their children in the next 12 months.

About 83 percent of respondents said they plan to take a multi-day vacation within the U.S., and only 19 percent planned to take an international trip. The top two most common vacations include visiting family and friends (62 percent) and going on beach vacations (61 percent).

Meanwhile, most of the 188 comments via the Mumsnet thread told SatelliteFish that it's normal and all children behave that way.

One user, Doveyouknow, remarked: "Honestly, I think kids that age can sometimes struggle being out routine, away from home comforts and also not really knowing where the boundaries are around treats / bedtimes etc. Giving them a clear idea of what each will be like might help. It does get better as they get older (until they become teenagers)."

Another user, CuteGroot, said: "I think holidays can be stressful for small children. Out of routine, over stimulated -=perfect territory for pushing boundaries! Don't fly home early! Can you and [DearHusband] take a turn to take her out somewhere and entertain her / deal with the tantrums while the other one does something relaxing?

"Also, you might not be able to do lots of meals out and adult-oriented stuff with her, if she can't behave. My oldest child couldn't deal with restaurants until he was about 6/7. He was an absolute nightmare. I used to get room service/takeaway/picnic of treats and have it on the bed while he watched cartoons. Needs must!"

tiedyetie said: "Yup, normal. They're all in a tizz because it's out of their routine."

"I've only ever taken mine to resorts with kids clubs so no help other than do that next time," PoundPill commented.

Dalaidramailama added: "Oh Christ we never would have took them abroad at that age but each to their own. Waited until my youngest was 7 until we ventured abroad. Reason being they absolutely loved cheap caravan holidays and British beach days when they were little so we made the most of that whilst we could."

Another user, onmywayamarillo wrote: "Mine are a lot older now , worst holiday I ever had is when the youngest was 4. Awful awful awful. Turned out that he somehow thought this was out new home, and we'd live there forever! I showed him photos of home and told him we'd be back soon only a few more days, he totally chilled after that."

NoSquirrels suggested: "Divide and conquer, OP. One of you takes her out, then swap in the afternoon. Let go of your 'family fun' expectations, and just settle into it. [Forwhatisworth], my [DearHusband] always struggled with first 2 days of a holiday when our kids were young as he couldn't let go of the 'holiday = relaxation" expectation, and with small kids it's more of "same s***, different place", tbh. Drop your expectations. Divide and conquer. Go low key. Don't fight about food."

If you have a similar family dilemma, let us know via life@newsweek.com. We can ask experts for advice, and your story could be featured on Newsweek.

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A stock image shows a family at the airport. The internet has reassured a mother feeling like a failure for not being able to enjoy her family holidays, telling her all children behave that way. Getty Images