Holidays are billed as the ultimate in time-outs. Total escapism from the daily routine and a chance to recharge your (almost flat) batteries. This may have been true about holidays pre-children, when the most arduous thing you did was reach for your (fifth?) cocktail. Fast forward to parenthood, and surviving holidays with the kidlets is a whole different ball-game.
We all need a holiday
We’ve just returned from our summer holiday in Mallorca. Ten nights in the very beautiful Port de Pollenca. Have you been? You should, it’s a fabulous resort, perfect for families, and only a couple of hours away on a plane.
Don’t get me wrong, we had a great time. My four-year old son, Ethan, loved the pool, the buffet breakfast (my personal highlight), and the nightly ‘Mini Disco’. (Have you experienced a ‘Mini Disco’? The songs are odd but very catchy, and will definitely get stuck in your head.) My husband enjoyed time away from the office and his daily commute to London. I really enjoyed the change of scenery and a break from the housework and cooking.
Holidays with kids can be hard work
Family holidays, however, can be pretty hard work. I’m sure it’s different if your children are older (please tell me it’s different when your children are older!!), but holidays with young children are tiring.
Endless queuing at airports, providing entertainment armed only with a small Trunki-load of toys, attempting to apply suncream to a writhing body (argh!), and trying to maintain half-decent restaurant etiquette on a daily basis, are just a few of the challenging holiday tasks from which you will need to find a little respite.
Get some strategies in place
The kids are, of course, a central focus and you want them to have a great time, but it is your holiday too, and it’s important to try and find a bit of me-time to maintain your sanity. If you’re not lucky enough to be travelling with childcare (aka ‘The Grandparents’), and there isn’t a ‘drop-off’ kids club on site, then you will need to employ a few strategies to help you enjoy a few precious moments to yourself.
If you’re travelling with your partner, shifts can work well. We took it in turns to get our son ready in the morning, entertain him in the pool, and get him ready for bed. This gave each of us a little bit of space to rest, read, sunbathe or swim in peace! You can still have time together as a family of course, but it also gives each of you a little break.
Use their favourite toy wisely
At home, my son is allowed his iPad for a little while before dinner – it gives me time to cook in peace and encourages him to sit still – otherwise he’d never stop! We still kept to this routine on holiday and it gave us all some much needed rest before going out to dinner.
Make the most of bedtime (if you can stay awake)
In theory, once the kids have passed out in bed, it should be the perfect opportunity for some quality grown-up time. However, Ethan went to bed much later than he would normally, and my husband and I were so tired most nights that we would all fall asleep together. Crazy times!
Hopefully you have more holiday stamina than us, and can enjoy a few drinks on the balcony before crashing out. If so, remember to get those drinks chilling in the fridge so you’re ready to go as soon as the kids are down.
I enjoyed my little snippets of me-time. I sunbathed. I swam some lengths in the ‘big pool’. It was so nice to have a break from the wee-filled kids pool (there was even a poo, eurgh! It took a lot for me to get back in after that, being a big hygiene freak, even though I knew they’d spent two days cleaning it). I managed to start reading an actual book, which I’ve been meaning to do for ages. Only a small thing, but it felt really good.
We did, of course, make some lovely family memories together. That’s what it’s all about obviously. There is nothing wrong, though, with making sure you have some time just for you, too.
Share your own tips
What are your family holidays like? Do you manage to get any time to yourself? If you do, how do you like to spend it? Please share any comments and tips below!