I can’t wait till my summer holidays, I love nothing more than a bit of sun on my skin and this year will be the first time Mr B has joined us so it’s even more exciting. For the last few years I’ve holidayed alone with the kids, something I never thought I’d have the courage to do, but we’ve had great time’s and met some lovely people along the way.
We’d never been abroad as a family before I split from the kids dad so the first year I decided we needed to get away was also the first time the kids had been on a plane or in a foreign country, in fact the last time I’d been abroad was on my honeymoon so this was a whole new adventure.
As soon as I started thinking about it and looking at holidays I realised this was going to be a whole lot different from those long forgotten girly holidays booked last minute to Magaluf, when you didn’t even know which hotel you were staying in till you arrived.
Like most things involving children a lot of planning was required. The list of requirements was long , first of all it had to be in the summer holidays ( I wasn’t ready to face the wrath of the headteacher for taking them out in term time), it had to be a short flight (having never flown with the kids before I wanted to make the first time as short as possible to see how we all coped), it couldn’t be too hot (again first time abroad I didn’t want to risk sunburn and heat stroke, it had to be a daytime flight (I didn’t relish the thought of getting the kids up in the middle of the night or arriving in the small hours of the morning tired and stressed), it had to be from the nearest airport (much as I love saving money the idea of driving 3 hours before even starting our real journey in an effort to save cash was too much).
In other words it all had to be as simple as possible, the other big requirement was that it had to be a holiday for me too, it had been a tough few years and the idea of some relaxation in the sun was bliss, but as all parents know there is nothing relaxing if you are on constant childcare duties, or having to cook every meal, or constantly entertain the kids and find things for them to do.
After some internet browsing, chatting to other parents and then a trip to the travel agents we went with the First Choices Holiday Village in Majorca, now I know package holidays and all inclusives aren’t to everyone’s taste and I admire the families that take off with a backpack and trek through rainforests or book a mystery tour to discover the “real” China and eat deep fried cockroaches but for me the thought of not having to cook, clean or entertain for a week sold it (also I prefer cockroaches to be noticeably absent from all aspects of my holiday).
Now this is not meant to be an advert as I’m sure there are plenty other package holidays out there that offer similar and you do pay for the extras but I can honestly say it was worth every penny. With the choice of 4 free childcare sessions a day, buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as snacks and drinks throughout the day, clean, fresh accommodation and a tireless entertainment team who hold poolside dance sessions, family evening entertainment, football sessions and much, much more (yes it’s a bit Butlins in the sun but then there’s nothing wrong with Butlins).
So with all the boxes ticked we were off but there was still the fear, how would I cope? Would I be lonely? What if the kids kicked off on the plane or I couldn’t keep an eye on them both in the pool and they drowned or jumped of a balcony (yes I am a worrier with a vivid imagination a bad combination). Well we are all still here to tell the tale and had a great time.
My days were spend mostly by or in the pool with one eye on a book and the other on the kids, but when I wanted to completely relax the kids where more than happy to attend childcare sessions where they painted pottery, built rafts or learnt to canoe. Evenings and mealtimes were trickier, I was lucky in that as my kids were older they were able to serve themselves from the buffet (bar one plate smashing incident from James), but with so much going on the kids wanted to spend the minimum time at the table and get back out to the fun, there are only so many times you can say “just sit while mum enjoys her dinner”, so mealtimes were a little more rushed and dinner conversation was limited to talk of Mario and minecraft rather than current affairs.
Evenings were the hardest part, it is easy to immerse yourself in a book during the day but sat at a table watching kids reps sing Gangnam Style while your kids abandon you to dance around the stage or take part in team games while other couples drink and chat leaves you feeling a bit of a gooseberry.
I was lucky though to meet some lovely people and last year in particular (our third solo holiday, this time to Holiday Village Menorca) I met a lovely couple of fellow Scots who not only involved my kids in their activities but also took me under their wings in the evenings. After worrying that I was intruding on their holiday and being assured that the new company was welcome our evening routine was established and every evening was spent together sharing the trips to the bar and the popcorn machine for the kids.
So if you are on your own and thinking about getting away with the kids, I say do it, here’s my top tips.
- Be prepared – the waiting around and journey can be long so pack books, colouring pens, DS’s, snacks and games to keep them entertained.
- Pack light, you really don’t need 5 pairs of shoes and when you’re the only adult it comes down to you to transport all the luggage, so keep it to a minimum.
- Ask travel agents about special deals for one parent holidays, First Choice do have special deals at certain resorts but don’t advertise them, you’ll save money and have more chance of meeting people in the same situation.
- Smile and talk to people, even if you find it hard, ask people if you can share there table or just make small talk, most people on holiday are more than happy to chat to others and it will make your time more pleasant if you have some adult company.
- Wear suncream (yes I know that applies to all holidays but look what happens when you don’t)