Thursday, July 15, 2010

Single Mum on Holiday!

Three kids, one adult, one hire car, one campsite....and a week in the sun with my little family!

Many people seemed surprised when I told them I was taking the kids away on holiday...on my own! But why is it surprising? I manage them at home....on my own! So why not abroad? What’s the difference?

OK, I’ll admit, it’s a bit of a challenge, but then, so is juggling daily life. It’s not rocket science. It’s just a question of planning (with military precision!)

I’m very blessed that my kids are such good travellers. I hear nightmare tales from other parents of kids who yell and squeak after as little as forty minutes on the road. Mine managed a four hour drive with just one quick stop (so mum could grab a coffee!) We had snacks, CD’s and good old chit chat to keep us entertained. The holiday began in the car for us.

We’d spent the last several weeks building up to our trip. Each night we’d been counting sleeps until we go for our holiday. The kids were excited and perhaps a little fractious, but they endured the long drive with aplomb, as though they were seasoned travellers.

Once we had safely arrived, unpacked, and settled ourselves into our temporary ‘home’ (a compact, but comfortable static caravan), we then set off to secure our place by the pool.

The kids were quickly in seventh heaven. Armbands on, sun cream on, water pistols at the ready, they were splashing, playing and squealing with joy in no time at all.

Now it’s time for mum to relax too, isn’t it? Well, of course not! It’s not really possible to fully relax when you’re on holiday (especially around water) with your three kids. You always need to be keeping an eye out for what they’re doing. There’s a nack to it, but as long as you accept that this is the case, you can ‘relax into it’, if you know what I mean.

As parents, we possess this sort of in-built radar system. We can spot our kids a mile off. We can keep track of them even whilst not looking at them. We’re in tune with their sounds and signals. If a child strays out of radar range, you know it instinctively. I would find myself sitting up, scouring the sea of red and whit swimming caps, checking off my offspring one by one. ‘There’s number one, safely in the paddling pool….there’s number two, checking out the ice cream stand (as usual)…..and there’s number three, splashing with another toddler….check.’ Breathe.

Of course, you cannot keep them tied to you the entire time. It’s not possible. You have to give them a certain amount of freedom. They need to be free to make friends, play happily….and yes, shock horror….be out of your sight for a while. But out of sight doesn’t mean off the radar ;-)

We settled into a happy routine. In the mornings we’d wake, have a bite to eat, get our swimmers on, then head to the supermarket for Mummy’s newspaper, some drinks and some nibbles. We’d then head to the pool, secure a couple of sunbeds (not an easy task, believe me, you need your wits about you for that!) then settle in for a day of splashing and summer fun.

There was an entertainment program for the kids, and a kids club. They only went to the kids club once though, for about and hour. I was thrilled when they asked if they could go, but then felt strangely lost when finally given an opportunity to switch off my ‘Mummy-dar’ for a while. I can’t say I relaxed during that hour, although it was nice that my newspaper stayed dry for a short time!

By late afternoon, we would make our way back ‘home’ to our caravan, where I would set up a ‘shower production line’ and hose them down, one by one. Then we’d apply aftersun, pour a drink, and sit of the decking whilst applying our ‘make up ‘ for the Disco evening ahead.

Let there be no mistaking. Applying 'Hello Kitty' lip gloss and glitter is a very serious business. So is getting your hair right, and wearing the correct disco outfit. And not one to be left out whilst surrounded by a bunch of ladies, my little boy was determined to get in on the act too. He has the tiniest bit of glitter (on his forehead) and Mummy pretended to powder his face. He was happy, and we would then head off for a pre-disco pizza at the Restaurant by the Lake.

Oh happy times!

And seeing the kids dancing to those disco beats was a joy to behold for Mummy. I think the discos were my favourite part of the holiday. It was time for me to really sit back and watch my three favourite people having a ball.....what could be better than that?

And when the disco finished, we all headed home and went to bed....tired and happy.

So, all in all, it went well. I can't pretend I didn't find it exhausting, but it was no more exhausting than being at home with them, and the fact that we were away, just the four of us, is what really matters.

It's about getting a break from the routine, letting them stay up late, letting them eat what they want, and relaxing the rules a little. That's a key to a good holiday with the kids. It doesn't matter that we all came back tired, or that the kids had too many ice creams, that we got covered in mosquito bites, or ate too much pasta. None of that matters. What matters is that we were all together, a happy, complete family. Nothing can be more important than that.

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