Well here we are rocking (literally in a corner with a glass of vino!) into the 1st week back of a new school term and so far its crippling me!
School holidays for me bring a slight breather from the day to day demands which I normally have to place on Ethan (i.e. eat breakfast, brush teeth – well, some days!, put actual clothes and shoes on, leave the house and go into school etc etc) and the break from HAVING to leave the house means less negotiations and a calmer son.
But sometimes I like to throw a bloody great spanner in the works of the calm machine by booking a holiday and then Daddy (being a bloke and having to go one better) throws an even bigger bloody spanner in the works by announcing that he can no longer join us on our trip due to work. Cue panic stricken Mumma softly calling Daddy several terms of (non) endearment under her breath such as W@#k*R
But Taliah was all kinds of excited to go off on our holiday to Butlins in Bognor Regis and I was not about to dissappoint her. Ethan was refusing to go even at the point of getting into the car but thats the norm here, so with the car full to bursting with everything required for a 4 night trip (there was no room for Daddy anyway lol) we headed off on our adventure.
FYI everything required when you have an ASD, PDA child means literally everything they would normally come into contact with and for Ethan this comprised of:
Pyjamas (other than school clothes these are all he ever wears)
Own bedding and towels
Toilet seat and step because he cant do number 2’s without his very specific routine
Every possible kind of electronic device we own
Toys, snuggle bunny and blankey
Pushchair because if anxieties get too much then he wont move further or will meltdown and I physically struggle to carry him now, especially if he has the red mist and I need to avoid fists, feet and/or head!
Two supermarket trays of food so that we can eat every meal and snack in our apartment because his very limited diet means restaurants and takeaways are a complete waste of money!
And this is where I shall place my one and only critisicm of the resort! The distance I needed to struggle from the car park to the apartment with a tired 7 year old, over anxious (refusing to walk) 5 year old and all the luggage. It took two trips with the luggage trolley whilst trying to carry Ethan or balance him on top of the luggage and I was shattered afterwards (and had to repeat the process on leaving day).
I suspect that if I had known in advance the car park situation (I was a Butlins virgin), I could have called up and asked for assistance as all the staff were incredibly helpful during our stay! Gotta love some hindsight eh?
I am also eternally grateful that I had the foresight to book an apartment with a patio because dragging that lot up one or two flights of stairs may have finished me off.
But after a cup of tea and a calm down in our upgraded apartment (we were upgraded from silver to gold) I was really pleased with our little home from home. Small but perfectly formed like myself 😉 and with everything we needed for a fully self catering break – fridge, cooker, kettle, microwave and there was even tea, coffee and milk pots.
So after a quick beige dinner all round, we headed off to explore and it didnt dissappoint! The first thing we saw was the dreaded arcade but I told them that we were only going to have a little go in that area (its one of the very few things you pay for) so they were happy to have a run around the huge indoor soft play instead, we then made our way to the skyline stage just in time to see Billy and Bonnies bedtime story which the children loved. We also managed to catch the silent movie that was showing later that evening which gave them a chance to chill out before heading back to bed so that Mumma could chill with a beer and watch some trashy reality tv!
Day 2 started out with a swim and play in the brand new pool, which is amazing! The wave pool was by far the best discovery the kids have ever made and was the highlight of the trip. Its clean, bright and very well staffed and even at peak times didnt feel too busy, it was a little too loud for Ethans sensitive ears to start with but once he realised that the music signalled the waves starting he coped much better. The change that I personnally would make is to the temperature of the pools and room in general because when you have little ones and you are only usually waist deep in the water it can get a little chilly (at one point I feared I may take someones eye out with a nip tbh)
The weather was a bit rainy and chilly but Taliah was desperate to hit the beach which is located right behind the resort so that was our next port of call and although its a pebble beach she still loved every second of searching for shells and paddling her toes (I was told that there is actually a sandy, man- made part further along but we never made it that far). Ethan is not such a fan of the beach and spent most of the time in his pushchair and it was on our way back to the resort that we discovered that it had two flat tyres ffs!
Off to guest services we went to ask if there was a foot pump we could borrow and they sent us around to the hire shop where a lovely lad happily pumped up all 3 tyres for me.
Unfortunately they didnt last long enough to get back to the apartment and so with a heavy heart I decided that the following morning would require a trip off site to find a cheap stroller, it was that or basically not leave the apartment 😦
So day 3 saw us head off to the local Sainsbury which had an Argos inside to click and collect a new stroller which at £40 was an expense I could do without, but it saved the holiday and a lot of stress.
We literally packed in as much as possible on days 3 & 4 and still didnt get to do and see everything as there is just so much going on. Next time I will definitly book a full week.
Just a few of the things that we managed to do and see apart from the pool, soft play and beach were various shows with Billy and Bonnie, skateboarding, robots, teletubbies, Mr Men & Little Miss, Paddington Bear and Taliahs absolute faves The Skyline Gang.
There is a large outdoor funfair and indoor rides (no extra cost), small playground and various activities including bowling. Some of which are included and others cost extra.
There is no way that anyone could ever be bored at Butlins!
This was a holiday which I paid for over the course of a year to make it affordable and the old Butlins slogan of ” A Weeks Holiday For A weeks Pay” really doesnt apply anymore but for the amount of entertainment included, especially if like us you go balls deep with the self catering and avoid the arcades like the plague then it really is worth every penny.
Having dreaded taking two smalls away on my own and all the difficulties that can arise with a PDAer, we had an absolutely amazing time! Yes there were tough times along the way but we all enjoyed ourselves and its a holiday that I would be happy to repeat.
So if you are planning a trip to Butlins regardless of if you have a child with Autism or not, with or without another adult. I hope this post proves helpful xx
Thanks to all the lovely staff who were always happy and helpful!!