Two weeks ago, we returned from our first solo holiday abroad. Just me and the kids. No one got arrested. No one got lost. No one drowned (the thing I was most worried about). On these counts alone, I’m hailing it a victory. But actually? It was a victory in more ways than that. We had fun. We reconnected. And I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Getting up (and stepping up).
There are ways to make travelling alone with kids easier. Especially for the first time.
Like maybe not booking a 6.15 AM flight, meaning you have to get your three kids up at 2.40 AM. (Even though your kids usually quite enjoy any sort of nighttime waking activity and an excuse not to sleep in their own beds).
This is the thought that was going through my head the night before our holiday, as I put them to bed at 6.30 PM, dressed and ready to go and BEGGED them to sleep IMMEDIATELY.
Actually, the thought was something more like this: ‘WHAT SORT OF CRAZY IDIOT BOOKS A 6.15 AM FLIGHT WITH THREE WAYWARD KIDS? YOU CAN’T EVEN DRINK GIN TO CALM YOUR NERVES BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO GET UP AT SODDING 2.40 AM.’
The thing I should know about kids by now? Mine, especially. They love to throw a curveball. The curveball being that, this time, they did EXACTLY what I asked. And then got up at 2.40 AM, full of beans and raring to go.
(Thanks kids. You’ll never know how much this meant. If you never do what you’re told again, I will always remember this one, I promise.)
Check-in and passport control went smoothly. Suspiciously so. I made it a little easier on ourselves by travelling light (well, aside from the three kids that is). The lovely people at Samsonite lent me their amazing Cosmolite Spinner suitcase, which is lighter than my handbag. No joke. This meant that none of our precious 23kg of luggage was taken up with anything but all our cr*p.
Several times, people remarked upon the fact that I was travelling alone with three kids.
TRANSLATION: ‘You’re stupid. Really, really stupid.’
‘You’ve got your hands full!’
TRANSLATION: ‘If you’re on my flight and I’m sitting next to you, I’m going to kill myself (and possibly you).’
‘Wow, I couldn’t do that!’
TRANSLATION: ‘You probably can’t, either. You do know that, right?’
Then, it all went wrong. At the ridiculously optimistic moment I took us all into Jamie’s Diner for breakfast. What can I say? I was really inspired (tricked) by the flawless start to the morning and all the ‘encouraging’ comments.
That and the fact there wasn’t a McDonalds.
(Not a time to fail me, Golden Arches. Not after all the love we’ve shown you over the years.)
Of all the things I was worried about – losing someone, losing everyone, finding the blooming hamster stowed away in our hand luggage – the thing that actually happened didn’t even make my Top 20. My eldest having an allergic reaction to a pecan on her waffles. (Insert emoji of disbelief here).
She started to panic, whilst I thought, ‘Seriously? This is happening right now?‘ The lovely lady on the table next to us offered to sit with all three (whilst reassuring me she wasn’t a child abductor – people do this a lot when you’re on your own and they kindly offer help) so I could dash to Boots for emergency Piriton.
Meanwhile, my poor girl was sick in a bag (all over her newly purchased Havaianas), sick a further three times all the way to the gate, and had to be cleared by First Aid, before we could fly. We were last on the plane, though that part didn’t surprise me all that much. She was sick again on the flight and then it was done. Leaving us loads of time to recover fully, throw hot chocolate around, empty our hand luggage and ALL our toys (no hamster though, phew!) and generally make a nuisance of ourselves.
What I learned? There’s no point worrying about anything, like ever. Because whilst you’re worrying about that something, the thing you hadn’t even thought about will sneak up and bite you on the bum.
And, anyway, when it does happen, you’ll totally handle it. Because what other choice do you have?
Arriving in Turkey was, thankfully, uneventful. And when we drove through the gates at Club Letoonia, it was like time had stood still for the past year, even though nothing in our lives has. The familiarity was exactly what I had hoped for – comforting. I’d wondered if it might feel strange being somewhere we’ve always been with Daddy. But it wasn’t.
It was like going home. And when Sarah in Guest Relations greeted us like long, lost friends, commented on how much the kids have grown and I saw how insanely happy and instantly comfortable my kids were, I knew we were all going to be just fine. We were better than fine.
We were on the beach by 2.30 PM, me with a glass of rose in hand.
Free as a bird (with three kids).
If I had to sum up our first solo holiday together, I would use these words. Happy. Free. Empowering.
My kids felt it too. Knowing the resort so well, I could afford them the freedom to roam. I had to. There is no way you can police three kids all of the time. At some point you have to learn to trust one another, respect rules and understand consequences. I really felt that my kids got this, even my three year old. I put proper lifejackets on the two younger ones and that took away so much worry. With our every need catered for – food, entertainment, housekeeping – I finally got to be the fun parent where once I was only the ‘responsible’ one. We played in the pool, we went on the waterslides and enjoyed the evening show, every night.
But perhaps the thing I noticed most, especially seeing other families, was how much easier it was doing it on my own, in so many ways. No relying on someone else to (hopefully) do the sun cream. To do shower time and detangle salty hair. No tension when you momentarily lose a child because you both thought the other one was watching them. It was down to me and we just got on with it, with everyone taking a little more responsibility for themselves. The eldest showered with her sister and brother and washed her sister’s hair. She’d escort them to the buffet and they’d often get their own dinner.
Even if the boy did have mash every night, in his pirate costume, which he refused, point blank, to take off. Ever.
Go. For. It.
Going on holiday alone with your kids is no small feat. It’s a little strange to begin with. Perhaps less so for me, because we know Club Letoonia so well. But there is a point where you realise that, not only can you can do this, you are actually enjoying doing it. Your kids are happy. You are happy. You are spending more quality time with them than you ever get to do at home. You see a different side of them. They see a different side of you. And there is a new and deep-seated respect for one another.
So, to single parents out there feeling slightly overwhelmed by the thought of a first holiday alone (as I was), I will say this. Go for it. And, when you do and you are safely back on home territory, make sure you take a moment to recognise your success. Your victory.
Because, one day, your kids will draw great strength from these holidays you championed as a single parent. Where you showed them it isn’t just holidays that come in many different and wonderful packages.
But families, also.
Thank you Club Letoonia for hosting us this year, welcoming us as ever and making our first solo holiday one that will be in our hearts forever. Yay, we did it!
- Club Letoonia, Fethiye, is a 45 minute transfer from Dalaman airport
- You can book an all inclusive package through Thomas Cook or First Choice or book flights separately and all inclusive accommodation directly with the resort. Easyjet, Thomas Cook Airlines, BA and Monarch fly to Dalaman from all major UK airports
- The facilities are immense: Family bungalows with one/two rooms, Mini-club, Mini-disco, 3 restaurants, 7 bars, 3 outdoor pools, 1 indoor pool, Water slides, Daytime activities programme, Children’s playground and pool in kids’ club area, 3 private beaches in addition to the vast peninsular with sun loungers and hammocks, Evening entertainment, Spa
- 4 km to Fethiye town by shuttle boat, departing every 30 minutes
- 4* plus rating, 4.5 Tripadvisor rating