1. Choose Your Destination Carefully
Sounds an obvious one but choosing the right place will make or break your precious time away. Make a list of essential requirements for your family in order to narrow the search down and help you through the google minefield. Our youngest detests the car so I knew when we arrived I did not want to step foot in a car until we were going back to the airport! You want to make things simple and easy, do you want to drive half an hour to a supermarket? Or get a local bus to the beach and back every day? Check and check again the place is child friendly, this doesn’t have to be a resort built with children in mind but you want restaurants and locals to be welcoming and to know other families will be there. No one wants to be the only family on the beach taming their sugar fuelled kids. Recommendations from friends and fellow parents is the way to go, this is how we found out about our most recent trip to Port de Soller, which turned out to be our ideal destination.
2. Mindset Is Everything
If you go with the acceptance that:
a) You won’t get the same tan you did when you went to Zante when you were 18.
b) It won’t be any more relaxing than it is being at home with kids. In fact there will be times where it’s less relaxing – Sand in the eyes, adjusting to a time difference, keeping mosquitos at bay, keeping a wriggly baby still until that dam seatbelt sign goes off, to name a few.
c) You won’t get a lie in just because you’re on holiday and if you do it will be undone immediately when you’re on the early shift the following day.
d) You probably won’t get much quality time with your partner and there will definitely be no fancy meals out.
f) Routines will be disrupted (on a side note here, do not skip naps!)
I realise this is sounding more like ‘accept you will have no fun on holiday then if you do it will be a nice surprise,’ but it’s more about managing expectations and embracing the chaos. Although you’re on holiday it’s still about making the kids happy, If you try and make them fit around too much of what you want to do it can all go pear shaped and the ‘why didn’t we just stay at home’ question creeps in. If you go away accepting these things then you won’t end up full of resentment wondering why you bothered braving that agonising flight in the middle of the night!
3. Loosen The Reins
There will be things you want to do that you may not bother attempting at home – eating out every day, walking around a town, browsing shops, looking in a cathedral (did you even go on holiday if there wasn’t a cathedral visit?) etc. Lower the expectations and loosen the reins for an easier life and to allow you to do those things I.e an ice lolly at 9am to keep them in the buggy for 20 minutes, eating dinner on your lap to keep them at the table for a bit longer, lighting 10 candles in the Cathedral to stop them shouting in the Cathedral, …Ultimately holiday rules are vastly different from rules at home and if you both embrace this then it makes for a much more enjoyable time.
On our last day we agreed we’d say yes to everything the kids asked for, let me tell you, it was by far the best day of the holiday!
4. Increase The Adult To Child Ratio
If possible take a Granny, Grandad, Auntie, Uncle, friend, neighbour, random person to have an extra pair of hands. This will allow you to go out for dinner one night, tag team it for coffee in the morning and generally the larger the adult to kid ratio is the less stress and hard work it will be for you. Ideally they need to like spending time with your kids, otherwise it’s potentially an extra burden with a whole host of other demands and needs you don’t want to throw in the mix!
5. Take Thee Financial Hit
Holidays are expensive but cutting corners with kids in tow can often result in added stress. Paying the extra here and there if you can is definitely worth while:
– The lounge in the airport
– Well placed allocated seats on the plane
– Private transfer
– Friendly flight times (if there is such a thing!)
– The larger car (if you’re hiring)
6. Set A Couple Of Holiday Goals
Bit of a zaney one but we both went with a couple of things we really wanted to do for ourselves and agreed we’d help each other achieve them (be realistic here- you ain’t never gonna do a day long boat tour of the Island with two kids who suffer from motion sickness). My hubby’s was ice cream and a swim everyday, mine was to get through a book and take an afternoon nap (just one!) It’s a nice way to feel like the holiday isn’t completely centred around the children and you get to do something you wouldn’t to do at home. Please note, naps save lives but napping on a lilo brings next level joy!
Some Practical Tips:
– Always take colouring and stickers wherever you go.
– Download plenty of their favourite programmes on a tablet – no such thing as too much screen time when travelling.
– To avoid the daily tantrum about wanting all the plastic crap from the shop give them a Euro a day to save up for something special (AKA plastic crap) to choose on the last day.
– ‘Keep Em Quiet’ packs for toddlers (good value for money I’d say).
– Have a new toy / new snack in your locker for really challenging times.
– Trunki’s are brilliant, we get our toddler to pack (ram) it full of his favourite toys, It’s a good way to make an unfamiliar place feel a bit more like home (by spreading plastic stuff all over the floor).
– There’s always a Pret or two at the airport, put a Godfrey (massive ginger bread man) in your handbag for tough times on the plane.
Written by Emma Lee.