Family holidays – let’s keep it simple.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes the perfect holiday for me, and also what makes the perfect holiday for my children. I find the best family holidays – a bit like weekends – are those when there’s a little bit of something for everyone.
I no longer want to dwell on what family holidays used to be, when we were four and life was different. I want to focus on what our family holidays will look like now in our ‘new’ life. Not the one we chose, but the one we’re embracing all the same.
I want the children to have fun, see new places and have new experiences – but within all that I want to find time to recharge a bit too.
As a widowed single parent I spend so much of my time being switched on that I need to make time to switch off. Outnumbered two to one by my kids, my daily life revolves around making sure our family life runs like clockwork; that everyone gets to where they need to be on time, in clean clothes, and having eaten something remotely healthy. In my quest for family harmony I need to be a scheduler, a motivator, an alarm clock, a peacekeeper, a chef, a teacher and an entertainer.
I just keep thinking, wouldn’t it be nice for some of that pressure to be taken off for a while, so we can all let our hair down together and enjoy some real well-deserved downtime?
A few months ago I wrote that I didn’t think I was brave enough to book a holiday abroad for just me, my seven-year-old Sam and my three-year-old Florence. We have travelled abroad together since Roger died, but we were with friends, not just the three of us. In other words, there were two adults rather than just one, which makes a massive difference!
Other than that, the only time we have holidayed on our own is a few days in Pickering, North Yorkshire and a night in the Holiday Inn!
I think though, as my confidence builds and my positivity and determination to carry on living my life goes on, I might just be ready to do that solo trip.
When Mark Warner asked bloggers to think about their 10 travel must-haves, I started putting together my list – with a collage of things that make me think of happy holidays, taped to our playroom wall!
So here it is, my single parent wish list of the perfect family travel essentials, with a reminder of the object I chose to represent each one. I’ve added my Pinterest holiday board too, to give an idea of all the things I’d love our perfect holiday to be.
1. A beautiful destination | shells
Blue sky, soft sand and a clear sea are all key ingredients of my perfect holiday. There’s just something about warm sand in your toes, ice cream on the beach and swimming in the sea, isn’t there?
2. Life made easy | flowers
Going on holiday should be a break for everyone, so I think if I went somewhere on my own with the children I’d like to cut down on the time I had to spend cooking, making packed lunches, all that sort of thing. We have previously been self-catering but I’d love to try a more catered holiday. I know the kids would love it too – the excitement they had over a hotel breakfast a few weeks ago was off the scale!
3. Activities for the kids | pencils and a llama
One of my priorities when planning a holiday is making sure there will be enough to do in the local area to keep the children entertained. Of course, if you’re on a sunshine holiday you have the beach and maybe a pool which will be a major source of activity, and skiing speaks for itself. But Sam and Flo are four years apart in age and they don’t always like to do the same things. This would be a major hurdle for me thinking of going away with them on my own, as it would be a balancing act to keep them both happy. Travelling with friends is one thing; travelling solo is another and it would be perfect if we could find activities nearby tailored to both my children’s ages.
4. A perfect holiday wardrobe | sunglasses and jewels
Who doesn’t love buying a few new things for their holidays? For me that’s part of the whole looking forward to it process, and I’ve already got my eye out for some new summer dresses and swimwear. Not just for me, but for Sam and Flo too. Sam is never without his straw hat on holiday and Flo is a sucker for a floaty dress.
5. Me time | my favourite pen
This one is a bit of a luxury one for me! Of course, holidays are all about having fun as a family but the idea of being able to grab the odd hour for myself, to maybe swim, go to a yoga class, have a massage or write, now that would be bliss! As Mark Warner holidays offer activities for the kids, it would give me the perfect opportunity to chill out – or finish writing another chapter of my book!
6. Pampering | my favourite lipstick
This kind of comes into the me time category but I thought it was such an essential for a perfect break that I’d give it its own slot. Mark Warner holidays often have spas where you can head off for a treatment while the children are being looked after. How amazing would that be?
7. Learning new things | notecard to write it all down
Holidays are a great chance to try new things; it was on holiday in Devon when Sam first tried surfing. He would love to give watersports another go, and so would I for that matter. I’d love to release my inner Olympian!
8. Fun and friendship | seahorse memory tin
A perfect holiday would have to include having fun with friends, and if we didn’t travel with our own, it would be the best to make some new ones while while we were there.
9. Fab food | fish
For mama it would be seafood, seafood and more seafood washed down with a crisp white wine; for Sam and Flo, anything involving lots of pizza and ice cream would be their perfect dinner.
10. Surprises! | everything!
Life would be boring without the odd surprise, and although when times were tough through my husband’s illness I have often longed for a boring life, nice surprises are among life’s essentials. Each holiday brings surprises, that’s the beauty of them!
So there it is, our ten perfect holiday essentials! I hope that makes me a good choice for this year’s #MarkWarnerMum as the kids and I would love to try including all these things into our next holiday.
What would your holiday essentials be?