Going on holiday is one of my absolute favourite things to do, but the definition of a "holiday" changed once I had kids. A holiday with children comes with a lot of baggage (literally as well as metaphorically!) and not nearly enough down time to actually feel like you've gotten any rest. So early on, I started devising ways to ensure that I could carve out some "me" time that didn't include wearing my mum hat or carrying around a tote packed with lots of snacks! Here are my four tried-and-true methods to maintain my sanity and perspective when vacationing with my whole family:
Don't stay in a hotel: I get it, staying at a hotel means not making the beds. But I've found that renting an AirBnB makes such a difference. For starters, instead of one large room (with zero privacy), we usually get a bedroom and a living room and sometimes even a balcony! So it's easy to set the kids up for an afternoon nap and leave them behind with my husband while I go off on a solo adventure. Plus, I'll have access to a kitchen so it's no trouble to fix a snack or meal before making my great escape.
Make a schedule and stick to it: I know, I know . . . the whole point of going on holiday is to get away from hyper-scheduled days but as a parent, I've found that it's key. I think it's really important to find time to unwind by myself, so I make sure to set a schedule that allows for it and not stray from it. It also makes it much easier to find time pockets of time in between running around with the kids, so that it's not all of the sudden 8 p.m. before I realise I haven't spent a second alone all day!
Embrace kids clubs and family resorts: This one took me a while to figure out but man, what a discovery! If we do opt to stay at a hotel, I always check if they have a kids club first. Many kids clubs at hotels will come packed with so many fun activities, that I know if I drop my kids off at one, they'll hardly even miss me while I'm gone! It's especially great if I want some alone time with my husband. We know the kids will be happy hanging out with other kids for a while, so we get to leave behind parent-mode and partake in some much-needed r and r.
Holiday with family friends: Everything is more fun when you've got friends around and it's never truer than when on a family holiday. We've done numerous trips with family friends that also have children, and it is amazing! The kids keep themselves busy because they have buddies, plus we have our own friends to frolic around with. The best part — it's like having built-in (trustworthy!) babysitters. I never worry about leaving the kids with our friends while I get my zen on. And I always make sure to return the favour, so my friends learn just how nice it is to have a little holiday "me time"!