Laura Sutherland writes frequently about family travel for numerous publications, and is the author of Great Caribbean Family Vacations and Tropical Family Vacations. It's just you and the children...alone together again, and this time on holiday. Laura Sutherland explains how single parents can make the most of the family break.
Before you've even recovered from the packing, you're on the plane or in the car, solo in your attempts to amuse, entertain, feed and comfort your children. And, once you've arrived, the holiday that you've so looked forward to may not meet your expectations. How do you avoid feeling isolated and lonely as you watch other happy parents interact? How do you find time for rest and relaxation when you can't get much of a break from your children? Follow these tips to help make the most of your holiday as a single parent.
Meet other people
Choose a holiday where you'll meet up with other people for activities and meals. Inclusive resorts make it easy to meet people across the tennis court, on a sailing excursion or at the dinner table. Holidaying with another single-parent family has many advantages: you have a built-in babysitter, another adult to relate to and playmates for your kids. This type of arrangement enables each parent to have special one-on-one time with each child, and can save you money by spreading out the rental costs of a villa or apartment between two families. But travelling with another family can have its downsides. Children from different families are just as apt to fight as siblings, and, as the number of kids increases, so does the volume.
Visit a resort with a kids' program
Activities programmes for kids are sprouting like weeds throughout the hotel and resort industry. Most are geared toward children between the ages of five and 12 and offer fee-based or complimentary care that includes arts and crafts, games, sports and playtime. But if your child is especially young or shy, start slowly; don't make the mistake of leaving him in the activities programme for too long the first day or he may refuse to go again. On the other hand, your gregarious youngster may love the programme so much she'll want to stay every day and evening, leaving you alone to fend for yourself.
When your budget is tight
· Plan a long weekend rather than a full-week trip. You'll save on transport and accommodation and still get the rest and relaxation benefits of time away from home.
· Make a tradition of the outdoors for inexpensive fun. When Suzan Howard's boys were young, saving for their education cut into her money for family outings. 'So we went hiking,' she says, 'and the outdoor experience has kept my family close.' She still hikes with her two boys, now 19 and 21; it gives them a wonderful opportunity for long and interesting discussions. Source: Laura Sutherland, courtesy of ivillage.co.uk