My first solo parent holiday abroad: Mission Impossible?

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I was over the moon when LA got in touch about writing a guest post for us on solo holidaying with the kids. As a past solo parent myself, this was particularly interesting to me, and I feel strongly about there being support and resources geared towards it, as so many of us nowadays end up single parenting at some point. It can be so daunting contemplating tackling solo some of the family tasks and activities that you used to tackle together with your partner. But, as LA found out… life can pleasantly surprise you… so I’ll hand you over to her – essential reading for anyone contemplating a solo-parent holiday this summer!

Mission Impossible?
One Mummy, Two Children
Our mission: to fly solo to Menorca and enjoy our first abroad holiday as a trio

“I’m LA, Mum to Oscar, 7, and Una, 4,  separated for 18 months from their Dad. I work full time, live in Manchester and have my kids 50% of the time. I thought last year was turbulent with the split, but this year has also had some highs and ultimate lows. Adjusting to single parenting has been a rocky road; I’ve made some great decisions and some less good ones, but am learning every day how to balance my time with my children and enjoy my time without them.

Earlier this year a relationship I was in broke down with catastrophic impact for me. My world shifted, I felt fragile, crazy and like I’d let my children down very badly. I wanted to get away from the chaos so booked for the three of us to go to Menorca, the smallest of the Balearic Islands. I’ve been coming here since I was 11, it’s a beautiful small island, only a two hour flight away yet drenched in sunshine and very child-friendly. We booked to stay in the small apartment owned by my Dad, just two bedrooms, lounge and basic kitchen, set high up on the hill in the resort of Son Bou.

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I didn’t tell the kids we were going until the week before; they’ve been bashing on about going abroad for ages, so I wanted it to be a surprise for them. When I did the big reveal I expected it to be like the Disney advert where the kids throw themselves on me and we’d all embrace, them thinking I’m a ruddy legend. The reality was… yes they were thrilled. Oscar screamed then asked numerous questions… Method of transportation? How many footballs could he take? Was he allowed lemonade every day? Una expressed her excitement through the medium of “dance”, which to any innocent bystander would have led them to think she may have needed medical attention!

The night before I was full of dread… holidays for me have always been about utter relaxation. Sun worshipping. It’s what I like to do, selfishly indulge in trying to get the best tan I can. I’ve always been that way, and have always struggled with the fact that when you go away with kids, holidays aren’t like that anymore. You don’t plough your way through five books in a week, whilst supping on endless rum & cokes, only dipping your feet into the pool to cool down, never actually fully getting in. When you go away with kids it’s still the same shit as at home but in a different place…that was what I was dreading!

However, this was my challenge, to take my two away, and to make the most of it! I had to put aside my holiday needs and indulge in them, after all they have been through over the last 18 months the next eight days away had to be all for them… So our adventure began…

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It started with me rocking up at the wrong terminal at Manchester Airport at 4:45am, highly embarrassing for a PA who organises travel from this airport almost on a daily basis! I had booked the meet & greet car service, so upon arriving at the correct terminal, I expected to see someone in uniform with whom I would entrust my car…nope! Two guys in coordinating leisurewear showed up in a clapped out Clio and said they were here for my car… So I handed over my keys and said a little prayer under my breath that I would get my car back safely upon our return.

We negotiated dropping our bags off; my first Mum Win was successfully pushing a trolley, laden with our luggage, whilst also pulling both kids along on their Trunkies…already I could feel myself growing in confidence! The flight was uneventful apart from the obligatory argument about who gets to sit by the window, Oscar on the way there, Una on the way home. Seeing their excitement at this little treat of watching the ground disappear beneath us made me feel warm inside, then I got covered in Cheese & Onion Pringles as Una enthusiastically opened her snack pot and couldn’t stop the ensuing volcanic spray of crisps flying everywhere. We landed around 11am, found the hire car and then we were off! Music on, sun beaming down on us, already the woes of the last few months well on their way out of my head.

We spent the next 8 days completely having a blast… Well, apart from a rather unfortunate incident where Una decided to do a poo by the pool (luckily we were the only ones there), and this mighty stool was infested with worms, so not only did I have to clean this up whilst sporting a bikini, but we also had to make our first of three trips to La Farmacia. Trying to explain your daughter has worms in broken Spanglish involved lots of pointing at her bottom, and me wiggling my index finger which in my head is the universal sign language for ‘worm’.

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We played catch, they jumped into the pool to me, we had swimming races, we danced, I drank in the day, they had lemonade all day (don’t judge me!) They made holiday friends, they asked me why my tummy looks like a smiley face, they pushed me into the middle of the dance floor when the evening entertainers asked for all the single ladies to dance! They argued, they took it in turns to sleep with me in my bed every night, they stayed up until 11pm and rose at 9am the next morning.

In summary I totally and utterly fell in love with them all over again. I taught them the joys of dancing around to James Brown in their underwear. I taught them Spanish. Oscar learnt to snorkel (which did lead to a rather intensive and painful ear infection – trip two of three to La Farmacia (I’ll save you the info on trip three as this was related to my health) but he loved it! Una learnt to wee on the beach by digging a hole, and ultimately we survived! We all came home tanned, relaxed, and feeling like a proper little team.

This trip taught me so many things about Solo Parenting. Firstly, you can do it! Secondly, you need to remember to try and see the holiday through the eyes of the little humans. Yes, I was knackered, but they don’t see that, they see endless hours jumping in and out of water. They see the sea like they’ve never seen it before, so of course they want to run into it. They are amazed by wet sand, it doesn’t bother them when it’s in their hair, up their bum and down their swimmers, so why should it bother me?

Being allowed to stay up and drink lemonade is what makes their holiday, so let them. Let them remember seeing you smiling and relaxed, it doesn’t happen all the time. Enjoy it when strangers come up to you and say how lovely your children are, again that doesn’t happen often… if ever. Don’t look around you and see all the couples holidaying together, see your holiday for what it is. A time to reconnect with your children and fall in love with them all over again…and revel in the absolute heroism you feel when you’ve done it and you have all lived to share the tale… Apart from the worms. They didn’t survive!”

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Thank you so much to LA for sharing her holiday with us, what a hero! Have any of you had any solo-parent holidays? How did you find them? Any tips for others about to do the same this summer? Feel free to chip in in the comments below!

{Anna}

2 Comments

  1. What a fabulously positive account of your latest adventure. Hugely inspiring! Well done mama!

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