Holidaying as a family: Maintaining your health and your sanity.
Life with little ones is hectic at the best of times, I should know I’ve had three in three years! Leaving the house is a daily battle, you almost need a military operation to pull it off and coming out the other end can leave you with some post-traumatic stress. It might just seem like a trip to ASDA, but to my kids it’s a defiant battle with three main targets, how to:
A) Give mum a heart attack thinking they are missing/been kidnapped
B) Find the most valuable and breakable item in the store and destroy beyond all recognition, making sure Mummy has to pay for the damage they’ve caused
C) Scream, Swear or just plain whine enough to make an entire store of strangers glare at mum like she’s raising the Antichrist.
That is just a trip to the shops, so how are we going to pull off a holiday? I mean all of us, leaving the house, for longer than a few hours and all coming back alive and unscathed…is that even a possibility?
Let’s be honest, we go on holidays to relax, unwind and escape reality, when you’ve got kids it can be really difficult to achieve that, especially in an unfamiliar place that you are spending your hard-earned money on. The average family go on one holiday a year, so that’s a lot of built up anticipation and expectations, you need to make sure it’s going to be worth it and that you actually unwind, relax and maintain your mental health whilst having your kids with you.
Here are some tips on how to ensure you stay healthy, well and relaxed on holiday:
Some prep before hand is essential to have a relaxing time, I don’t mean organised activities from hour to hour, I mean…DO YOUR RESEARCH.
First things first, your accommodation:
Does it have a travel cot?
Does it have a safe deposit box?
Washing machine or nearby launderette?
Important factors you need to be aware of. The last thing you need is to arrive and realise there is nowhere for you to keep your expensive belongings or money safe and that your toddler or baby has to starfish in between you and your partner every night, because it’s either that or the floor when the hotel have no travel cots…I don’t know about you but I don’t find a swift kick in the face very relaxing and that is the reality of bed sharing with a toddler.
If you’re in a villa then is the pool gated?
If you’re in a hotel is there a crèche? Is it safe and governed? Or is there a creche nearby if you want to stay in a villa?
Are there real reviews?
Check it all out, the key to a successfully relaxing holiday is peace of mind.
OK so I know I said no activities, you don’t want to be rushing from place to place to get somewhere for a certain time, but it is handy to know what is going on in and around where you are staying.
If you know there is a certain show or activity you were interested on from say 1pm it might be nice for you to make your way over there in plenty of time, but if it gets a couple of days in and your on Google searching for where to go and what to do because the kids are getting restless, it just means more time wasted on that, that could be spent relaxing.
Have a little look on trip advisor before your holiday, find out where has the best reviews and save your self the disappointment of getting food poisoning from the 0 star restaurant you could have avoided.
2# Indulge and Hydrate
Drink, drink and drink some more…water!
If we’re talking about a summer holiday, especially abroad, staying hydrated is a no-brainer. I mean it’s a great idea to stay hydrated every day of your life, but when you are in an environment where you will become dehydrated rapidly, it’s important not only for your health but for your enjoyment to make sure you drink plenty.
You don’t want to risk causing yourself damage and ruining your holiday just because you forgot to drink, I mean you’ll get thirsty so you’ll more than likely drink, but it’s important to drink bottled water and be healthy. Even if you aren’t usually a “healthy” person, you are out of your usual environment so therefore are more at risk if you do dehydrate.
Little ones will have no idea they have to keep themselves topped up with water, they might tell you they are thirsty but don’t wait for that, make sure you remind them to drink plenty. It’s only a small detail that won’t even seem like a big deal, carrying water around with you, but it could be the difference between your holiday being relaxing and healthy or ruined by being unwell due to dehydration.
Also make sure you eat plenty, if you’re planning on a busy holiday with lots to do, then don’t forget to eat and eat well! You are in an unfamiliar place so look at your surroundings, look at how hygienic the area is that you are eating in, if you don’t feel something is quite right then don’t eat it, but don’t stop your self indulging, you’re on holiday after all! It’s important to stay healthy but holidaying is a time of enjoyment so scoff the cake and for that week or two don’t worry too much about your waistline, a bit of indulging never killed anybody.
3# Book Smart
When booking your holiday, you flick through the brochures and watch the adverts of the couple clinking their wine glasses together, snuggled in a shawl, watching the sunset. That’s great there’s no reason that can’t happen, but be realistic! If you are taking little ones with you, then book into a family friendly place, DO NOT book into a couples paradise.
It’s all well and good thinking your kids are well-behaved, but when all the couples are cooing at each other over a candlelit dinner and you’re trying to contain Pandora’s box (a.k.a your kids) it isn’t that relaxing.
If junior decided to catapult meatballs across the room at a family friendly restaurant, then the waiter will no doubt duck without batting an eyelid because he will have become a master of dodging little people food fights and Freddie his new best friend with will be in fits of giggles at the other side of the room.
Whereas if Junior pie faces the guy who is about to change his girlfriend’s life by getting down on one knee, you won’t get the smirking glance from a fellow mum who knows what you are going through, you’ll get the laser stare of the ice queen who spent three hours doing her hair that your child has just streaked with spaghetti.
Trust me…just visit family friendly areas and restaurants! For your peace and tranquillity, even if there are kids running around, you can relax, because everyone’s in the same boat, your kids are running around too, there’ll probably be a crèche or some activities where you can leave the kids so you can get some one on one time. You don’t want to spend the entire trip red-faced or trying to contain a pack of wild beasts, set them free in the right environment, sit back and chill whilst watching the carnage unfold.
4# Open invite
I’m not saying invite the world on your holiday (1. Impossible and 2. Unrealistic) but it’s becoming an increasing trend to holiday with other families or even with a large number of your own relatives. If you don’t have friends (or you can’t stand the ones you have) and your extended family are the reason you need a holiday than this option may not be for you.
But if Nana and Grandad need a holiday and love watching the little ones, it means you get lifetime memories with a larger portion of your family and let’s face it you’ve got ready-made, trustworthy babysitters whilst you clink the champagne glasses, cuddle up and watch the sunset (see, I told you it is possible).
Bring your bestie
If your best mate has a family of their own, why not go together? Share a villa (half the cost for each other) you’ve got ready-made playmates for your little ones and you can take it in turns watching the brood of kids from both families while you clink, cuddle and watch the sunset (becoming more realistic now, isn’t it).
Basically, you are making your holiday cheaper (in theory), more relaxing (trusted babysitters & playmates) and more enjoyable (spending time with people you like). There’s every reason to expand the number of people coming on your holiday, for your enjoyment and also for your peace both physically and mentally.
#5 Where to go
Thinking of where to go? Think relaxing, beautiful sunsets, stunning scenery and an air of elegance…Tuscany is a region in central Italy, it is full of character and the perfect place for a relaxing family holiday.
If you’re like me and have a brood of kids, that make the thought of staying in hotel fill you with dread, then a villa is the place to go. No worries about disturbing guests or irritating staff with your kid’s wacky ways.
Here’s the best place to rent a villa https://www.to-tuscany.com/
They are also highly commended on thegoodwebguide.co.uk
Check out the To-Tuscany pages:
#6 Remember why you’re going
You want to enjoy your holiday, relax and rejuvenate. Make sure you don’t over do activities, booze or just not taking care of yourself. You don’t want to come home feeling like you need a holiday to get over your holiday.
Keep reminding yourself why you’re there and if something is stressing you out or making you unwell then don’t do it. Just remember these three key facts which sum up all the yammering I’ve done above:
- Stay healthy (Eat right & drink plenty)
- Make it easy (Do whatever gives you mental peace)
Enjoy (Lay down, walk, dance, sleep..if it makes you happy then do it)