Having a large family is something I've always wanted as soon as I had my first child, especially after my upbringing and having a rather lonely childhood.
Sometimes people look at me funny when I tell them how many Kids we have and after I explain the reasons as to why there are more than just my own living with us , they realise the full extent is more than meets the eye and it simply is not just a case of '' we do not own a T.V'', (if anything we probably own more than the average household).
I love having a large family and I would not change it for the world but there are some downfalls apart from the obvious lack of sleep and no social life .
Since having children I can honestly say I have only been on three holidays as a family and there are a few reasons as to why that is.
This week I found that having a large family is not a blessing but in fact a curse when it comes to holidays and up until now it never really bothered me.
I have never been spoken to so rudely , felt so let down and made to feel ashamed of my having 8 children in our family until this week.
Here is what happened!
Not being able to go on holiday has to say the least put a real downer on things these past few years and my husband has literally worked his butt off for us not to be able to get away due to the costs and so he took it upon himself last month to make a drastic decision .
To put it bluntly I told him it was either a holiday or a divorce (obviously I was not being serious but in a way, I was).
We thought about going abroad but the realities just do not cater for us . Firstly I do not want to be paying out over £600 for passports then another £6000 for one week away. It is literally ridiculous at how much that is and I felt physically sick to think that we would have to spend that on a holiday for just one week and that would be without food and spending money. Secondly my husband says he won't ever get on a plane , I think he is a little scared to fly.
We then thought about camping.
We have been before in a tent and being in the UK meant we did not need passports nor did we need to spend an arm and a leg on travel expenses, insurances and all those other fees that add up to a small mortgage.
My husband thought more into camping and the many different ways in which we would be more comfortable and eventually came up with the idea of buying a folding camper.
We spent days and weeks looking for the perfect one that would be in our budget and eventually found the perfect one that we would all fit in.
I say all fit, in reality I mean it was a six birth but with the awning it meant we could add the extra people in there and we could actually easily sleep all 10 of our family in there comfortably.
We went and picked it up, set it up in the garden and slept in it for the night ensuring it was able to accommodate us all easily without us feeling like sardines in a tin and compared to the tent previously this was heaven.
The children were all so very excited , even camping in the garden was like a holiday and we had a fantastic night making plans for our future trips .
It was huge inside, we had two beds where 6 little ones could share , a table and chairs where we could eat and then turned into another bed for us adults and baby and not only that but we had a cooker, fridge and loads of cupboards to put all our things out of the way .
The awning was the same size of the camper and so we bought some inner tents for the teenagers to sleep in the awning , giving them their own space, it was perfect .
We prepared our new little holiday home and we were all so very excited to get started on going away but once I started calling places to stay we found rejection instantly.
First it was the folding camper that some sites did not allow on site but not to worry there were hundreds of others that did and so I began to ring them.
My first choices were the big holiday parks , Haven and Park Resorts and I could not have been more shocked to find that they only allow 6 people per pitch due to insurance purposes.
I am sure the memories I have as a child are filled with fields full of huge tents and huge families. Why are people making it harder for us to get away?
We had previously been to places like Blue Dolphin and we absolutely loved it , we wanted to go back for sure.
Now please tell me what is wrong with us all staying on one pitch.
Most of the sites are pay by key for electric which means we would be paying extra for that anyway and also our one camper would be using the same amount of space up as a large tent or caravan , the only thing different is that there are more of us in the camper because we are a larger family.
I have been camping and seen bigger tents that hold more people than there are of us , I just really do not get it at all.
After calling the main parks and being refused unless we wanted to buy two or three pitches to separate us all , (meaning it costing us three times more) I began ringing more and more.
The more I rang the more angrier I became. Why were we being victimised?
On many occasions I was told our family size was not that of the norm and it was ridiculous and of course the usual '' Do you not own a T.V?''.
By the end of the day I was left fuming.
Not only had I been told I was ridiculous , my family was not normal and we were unable to stay on most sites but I was also informed that we were being classed as a group and the reason sites were turning us down was not just because we were a family but because they think we may cause upset or damage to the countryside?
Now do not get me wrong, I love the countryside, my kids love fresh air and we indeed were looking for something like a nice fishing holiday that allowed the family to be together and do something all together but how on earth is my family a danger to the countryside?
I asked one of the people to explain what they meant with an answer of
'' You have 11 people on one pitch with 8 of those that are children, those children are going to be running riot and on either side of you the smaller families may feel you are being too noisy for their quiet get away''.
What, Their quiet getaway ?
What about mine?
These people obviously love to make judgments on large families and have no idea how they work.
Maybe If they realised that all we were after was a nice quiet getaway, maybe they would understand the fresh air , beautiful countryside and open space is exactly what our family were after also.
I know families of two parents and one child and they have the most unruly children ever, they make more noise and are so much more mischievous than all of my 8 put together.
We were after that quiet holiday to but after calling over 60 sites around the UK ,
THERE WERE ONLY A SMALL HANDFUL THAT WERE HAPPY TO ALLOW US TO STAY ON ONE PITCH TOGETHER.
I could not understand what the problem was.
It seemed every where I rang , each person I spoke to either spoke to me rudely, judged my family or rejected us altogether.
ALL I WANT IS TO TAKE MY FAMILY ON HOLIDAY !
I was not asking much -
I was not asking for a 5 star hotel and a golden goose egg, just somewhere our family could spend some quality time together .
Most of the sites that told us they would not allow us on site on one pitch also had the cheek to give us the option of staying there in off peak times.
Obviously our huge family would be spending a lot of money and they needed us to keep them busy when no one else would go but why would I go when everything was closed or out of use . I do not want to go in the winter , freezing cold and everything closed, what is the point?
I am sorry but with the attitudes and way some of the people spoke to me , I have no intentions of turning up to their sites even if me and my husband decided to have a quiet weekend away alone together.
I could not believe that what we thought would be our way of getting a holiday as a family would turn out to be the most hardest option after all.
I spoke my opinions to some fellow campers , friends and family and they were disgusted at how my family were being victimised for being larger than normal .
We were basically being told that unless we wanted to pay three times more , buy another tent or leave half of the family at home we were not allowed to have a holiday.
It literally had me in tears at one point.
I felt left down and heartbroken .
After all the hard work and money my husband scraped together to buy us our folding camper to get us away , it was being made nearly impossible.
Our children were being denied a right to have a holiday and I felt once again rejected.
Have you ever came home and see your children’s faces light up when you have told them daddy has bought them a camper to go on holiday when they have never had that before then suddenly see the life literally drain from their eyes in disappointment when you tell them that they will not be able to go and see Rory the Tiger or Sparky Crew because our family is too big and they will not allow us on site?
I suppose not!
I have rang over 70 Caravan parks and only a very small handful will allow us . I felt so greatful and thankful to them for being so understanding and of course I will write all about the amazing sites when we visit but we do feel very let down at the amount of camp sites who allow unlimited size families to pitch up on one pitch .
If anything I honestly thought the camping experience were for families like mine who wanted to spend time together with the open air and all its beautiful surroundings, peaceful and quiet but of course fun building happy memories .
Maybe I am not looking in the right places, please help if you think you may be able to but there do seem to be a very short list of those who are willing to take us on.
After asking some camping enthusiasts they have pointed me in the direction of the Camping and caravanning club .
Being a member will help lower the price of visiting some of the sites as well as being able to join in on meets which happen every weekend in various sites across the UK.
Luckily I have one holiday booked for us and a couple more on the waiting list , I just hope that eventually I can find more where I can let my children enjoy a holiday.
Would love any ideas , opinions or options you have to be shared, hopefully we will be able to get away soon.