Make your summer holiday memorable for you and your little one, whatever your relationship status
The summer break can be tricky as you try to manage new outdoor activities and changes in routine, and that’s before you add a holiday trip to the mix. But if you’re a single parent, things can be even more complicated. To help you navigate the tricky holiday period, we’ve pulled together a few ideas and spoken to dad and step dad Terry Rugg, who works for advice-hub Dad.info.
1. Holiday together
If you have a good relationship with your ex partner, one option is to try a holiday away as a family. This way you can share the highs and the lows of travelling with a little one as well as all the associated costs. It might also be reassuring for your child to have both parents together in an unfamiliar setting, especially if the break up is recent. But to avoid any blow-ups in front of your child make sure you can be civil to your ex while you’re away. Sort out accommodation that suits your arrangement – you don’t want any awkwardness over who’s sharing a room or bed…
2. Holiday apart
If it’s not possible to holiday together and you’re thinking of taking your little one away separately, talk about your plans so you don’t clash on dates and destinations. It might be tempting to try to trump your ex with a flashier holiday but resist and instead work together to make sure you all have a memorable trip whether that’s to Blackpool or Barbados. Terry says, “Taking your children away for the first time after a break-up requires planning. One of the main things is not to attempt to give the children a holiday of a lifetime. It’s not about scoring points, just be yourself. Be aware that your children will probably be feeling awkward and even a bit anxious about leaving their mum to go away with you.” If you’re both planning a trip away separately, make sure you leave enough time in between the holidays for your little one to recover from the travelling and be enthusiastic about their holiday with your ex. Terry says, “Before your kids go away make sure you let them know you want them to have a great time and that you’ll look forward to seeing them when they get back. Don’t harbour negative feelings as it will only rub off on them. By letting them know you hope they have a great time it will make them more relaxed and less anxious.”
3. Be aware of the pitfalls
Single person supplements, dinner for one and coping with an unfamiliar setting, food and time zone on your own with small children in tow can all spoil a holiday so make sure you know what you’re letting yourself in for and try and plan accordingly. Terry says, “Remember that before, there were two of you to safeguard and accommodate the children – it’s harder work when there’s just one of you. You’ll find that you are shattered in the evening so try and check that temper and remember not to get annoyed over small things. See it as your job to make your children feel relaxed and that way everyone has a good time.”
4. Meeting a new partner
If you have a new partner and are planning to include them in your holiday plans then you will need to think about the best way to introduce them to your child before you jet off into the sun. Terry says, “Going for a trip to the park is always a good one or maybe a going out for dinner. When people sit around a table and eat together it is a focused moment that can help introductions.” Plan in plenty of these days before you go where they can get to know each other in a familiar setting to make sure they are comfortable and happy with the situation especially if the new partner brings other children into the mix.
5. Be prepared
If you aren’t the primary caregiver, make sure you’re up to speed with your little one’s current likes and dislikes before you go away. These can change on a dime so familiarise yourself with their latest fads to avoid any unnecessary battles when your child refuses to eat a vegetable that was a favourite a few weeks ago. Make sure you remember to ask your ex for any beloved cuddly toys or comforters otherwise you could be in for a sleepless few days. You’ll also need the written permission from the primary caregiver before taking your child out of the country.
6. Cherish it
Above all, try and enjoy the extra time you have with your little one – the summer is the perfect chance for you to spend quality time together and build some lasting memories, whether or not you go on holiday. “Keeping kids happy over the summer can be difficult whether you’re in a relationship or separated. Try your best to be accommodating; after all, the children are both your children. And if you have to take some extra time off work – embrace it. Your children are only children for a fleeting moment, they soon grow. Try and be reasonable with your ex-partner, show that you are willing to do as much as you can to make everyone’s life easier. It will pay dividends for you, your ex-partner and your children.”
Taking your little one out on your own? Find more ideas with our 8 top tips for single parents on days out.