'When their idea of heaven is your idea of hell' - thank you, Alex Jones, for reminding us what family holidays are all about

The mum of three and presenter of The One Show hit the waterpark on holiday despite it being her 'idea of hell' - here's why we should follow her example

Three images of our writer and her family at the waterpark at Eurocamp's La Rive resort in France
(Image credit: Heidi Scrimgeour)

As presenter and mum of three Alex Jones hits a waterpark with her kids on holiday in Lanzarote - despite it being her 'idea of hell' - our writer recounts why we should all take a leaf out of Alex's book this summer and let 'the dignity thief' do her worst.

Fans of The One Show may have noticed that Alex Jones has been taking a well-earned break from presenting the daily BBC1 chat show of late. Alex and her husband Charlie Thomson have been enjoying a family holiday in Lanzarote with their three children, Teddy, seven, Kit, six and Annie, two.

Taking to Instagram to share highlights of their hols, Alex posted a series of envy-inducing snaps including a video of her youngsters dashing into a waterpark for a day of fun. She wrote: "Holiday mode fully activated! Love Lanzarote so far!" But the presenter was quick to confess that a waterpark isn't her favourite holiday pastime, adding: "When their idea of heaven is your idea of hell. The waterpark. The dignity thief."

Those three little words - the dignity thief - immediately transported me back to a holiday memory of my own that I'll never forget. Two years ago I finally fulfilled a long-held wish and packed my husband and our three children, who were 8, 15 and 17 years old at the time, off to France to experience the delights of a Eurocamp summer holiday. It's the kind of classic family holiday I had always imagined our family taking but the years passed quickly and then between Covid and the cost of living crisis, we didn't manage it until two summers ago. Though family holidays with teens can be tricky, I am so glad we squeezed in that experience before my boys hit the age where a family break is way less appealing than spending the summer working or partying in Ibiza with friends.

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Our Eurocamp adventure was a magical holiday for many reasons, not least because I suspect it may have been our last official family holiday before the older kids leave home. (Sob...) But what's forever etched in my memory is the day we spent together at the sprawling on-site waterpark. Like Alex Jones, the word 'waterpark' strikes fear into my heart and yet my kids couldn't wait to try out the waterslides, throw themselves headlong down the 'wild river' rapids, or dare each other to stand under the giant bucket suspended high above the water park that soaked everyone with 3,500 litres of water every ten minutes. If you could look up my idea of hell in a dictionary, this would be it.

The bucket of doom at Eurocamp's La Rive resort in France - our writer's idea of hell until she succumbed to its charms

(Image credit: Heidi Scrimgeour)

Honestly, I wished I was headed to the resort's spa facilities. But instead, just like Alex, I indulged my kids and followed them faithfully to the waterpark, despite it being very much my idea of hell. (Although if I looked like Alex Jones in a red swimsuit I'm pretty sure I'd be swanning around the waterpark with my head held high, not worrying about it robbing me of my dignity.)

At first, I perched awkwardly on the edge of my pool lounger and let my husband assume the role of 'the fun one' while I urged caution and intermittently proffered bottles of water and sun cream. Instead of working on my tan, of course, I put all my effort into responding to endless cries of 'Mum, watch this!' with acceptable levels of enthusiasm. It soon became apparent, however, that what makes for maximum fun at a waterpark is when mums join in. So eventually, when my kids would no longer take no for an answer, I abandoned the sun lounger (and with it, my dignity...) to join the kids on the slides. And oh, how glad I am that I did. Because what unfolded that afternoon was more fun than I can remember ever having with my kids.

'I had denied myself the simple pleasure of enjoying the beach with my kids because of my body hangups.'

There's an idea from the world of psychology called 'deferred happiness syndrome' which describes how we resist moments of happiness, putting them off to some imaginary moment in the future when we think we'll be more deserving of them. For years, I realised, I had denied myself the simple pleasure of enjoying the beach with my kids because of my body hangups. But that summer, true happiness crept up on me. Not in the fancy resort spa but in a noisy outdoor water playground that I thought was my idea of hell.

I hurtled down the water slide shrieking in delight and I raced my kids up the steps to do it all again and again with total abandon, not caring what jiggled or how I looked. I wasn't questioning my body or trying to hold on to my dignity. I was smiling from ear to ear and laughing like a child. And when I did catch sight of my reflection, what struck me wasn't how 'big' I was or how terrible I looked in a swimsuit; all I noticed was how utterly, truly happy I was.

And that, as Alex surely knows, is exactly what family holidays are all about. So do me a favour, this summer, if you can. Don't defer happiness until some point in the future. When you look better in a swimsuit. When the kids' idea of fun aligns with your own.

Instead, please follow the example your kids set and say yes now when they beg you to join in. It makes no difference whether it's a water park in the sun or a paddling pool in the garden. Say yes to whatever is your kids' idea of heaven, even if it's your idea of hell. Behave like a child, screech with laughter, and let the 'dignity thief' do its worst.

Don't do it because it's the right thing to do for your kids or because it's what good parents do. Just do it for you.

Because - and I can promise you this - you will look back on that holiday, years from now, and remember those moments as some of the happiest of your life.

Looking for more fresh takes on the parenting issues of the day? Read why you might want to hold your tongue when watching your kids play sports or find out why this writer regrets giving a smartphone to her 11-year-old. Or for some light relief, find out what we know about the rumours that Bluey is ending and why looking after grandchildren is better for the brain than Sudoku.

Heidi Scrimgeour
Deputy Editor

Heidi is a seasoned parenting journalist with over 15 years of experience. She has contributed to numerous UK national newspapers, including The Guardian, The Times, and The Telegraph. Her work has also appeared in a variety of print and digital magazines, such as Psychologies and Mother & Baby, where she was Shopping Editor for six years. In this role, she specialised in consumer features, including buying guides and baby gear reviews. Heidi is also mum to two teenage sons and a ten-year-old daughter.