Single parents have unique challenges when it comes to taking their children on vacation. Although your goal would be to spend quality time together, you should be able to spend some time for yourself as well. When I was a single parent the 1st vacation I took was to Omaha Nebraska. That may seem like a very unlikely place for a family vacation but for me it was perfect. At the time my brother and his wife lived there and not only did they want to spend time with the kids but they also wanted to give me a break. So we packed everything up in the car and headed out at the kids bedtime. I had planned on sleeping at a rest area for a couple of hours but I freaked out so I kept on truckin. I had rented a cabin at a state park that had a lot of crafts and activities offered. My brother and sister in law would work and then come over every evening and give me the evening off to myself to relax, read, walk, write or just sit back and enjoy watching the kids laugh and play. This is one of my best memories of being a single mom and the kids would say the same. I was a new single mom, nervous and didn’t think I could make it on my own. The confidence and recuperating I received during that week was priceless. Then a couple of years later I decided I wanted to do a little bit more but I still was nervous about being totally responsible for all the driving and entertaining so I asked my mom and dad to come along. We took the kids to Wisconsin Dells and had a great time in the water parks. It also was a time of learning and gaining confidence to do it on my own. Which I did a short time later. Below are some ideas that may help you as you consider taking your children on a single parent vacation, possibly even this summer.
- Travel with another family member or members like I shared above.
- Consider a vacation home rental instead of a hotel. They have these available all over and come in all sizes. They are usually cheaper in comparison and they include a full kitchen so it makes meals easier and a lot cheaper. It also helps get rid of the double occupancy dilemma. Some of the popular websites to find vacation home rentals are vrbo.com and www.homeaway.com.
- Go somewhere that you have out of state family. They are usually glad to see you and are willing to do anything to help you.
- Find a State or National park. The cost is less and they are very beautiful. You can rough it by staying in a tent or camper, rent a cabin or stay in a lodge. There is always a heap of activities to do and being in the outdoors is always healthy during a stressful time in your life.
- Make sure you plan. Half of the fun for you and the kids is in the planning. Make an agenda and include the kids in what they want to do and see. Make a family fund where everyone participates in contributing extra money to help pay for the expenses. Make sure you give each child the opportunity to pick something so everyone feels like they are a part of the planning. And don’t forget to plan some down time for yourself.
- Travel with another family with kids your childrens same ages. This will make it fun for the kids, fun for the adults and when you share the expenses it is cheaper for everyone involved. It also gives you someone else to carry the load of responsibility with.
- If you have the money and would like to go to a beach, consider an All Inclusive Resort. They have these at almost every beach town. It may be a little more spendy but it comes with all the food and activities included. This is a great option when the kids are teenagers or young adults. I just did this with my young adult children last year and had a great time!
- If you are traveling with younger children (especially international) it is a good idea to carry some sort of documentation indicating you have permission to travel signed by your childrens father. Also include who should be contacted in case of an emergency.
- Be prepared for anything. Think ahead of things you may need or problems that may arise. Start making a list weeks ahead of time so you don’t feel rushed at the last minute. But don’t over stress about it, wherever you go chances are you will be able to find it.
- Come up with a plan to minimize interaction with social media. There is so much accessible to our children these days that it has a tendency to rob us of family time. If you can agree to have a technology free vacation you will never regret it. But if that is not possible, try to limit it as much as possible. But don’t forget the same rules apply to you.
I hope these simple suggestions can take some of the stress away from taking a vacation and encourage you to decide to do something special this summer, even if it is only a couple of days. Remember, it’s not the place, the length of time or the money you spend, it’s about making a priority to spend one on one time with your children to build memories. The time you have with them is so short. I am living testimony of that. In no time at all they will be graduating and making memories of their own. My last piece of advice is as much for myself as for you, try not to fill your days with so many activities that you never have any down time to rest and connect. If you do, everyone will come home more exhausted than when you left. And then you will need another vacation from your vacation.