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How I Survived My First Family Holiday As A Single Parent

Holidays were a dream, but they were far from my own reality.

Because of financial strain, it was hard enough to go on holidays as a family before my separation. After my separation, money was even harder to come by, and for the first year a holiday was not even a thought. Escaping my life during the early days post-separation was definitely a thought, however a HOLIDAY didn’t even enter my mind.

So two years after my separation, a totally exhausted single mumma needed an escape. Working full-time and navigating through a big portion of life alone, with minimal input from a partner who walked away from a life we once shared, had taken its toll on me. I lost about 15 kg in a matter of two years, and my mental exhaustion was getting the better of me.

READ MORE: How I Survived The Loneliness Of Separation

Post-separation, money was even harder to come by, and for the first year a holiday was not even a thought. (Image: Getty)

I was lucky enough to have a close family that proposed a family holiday together. I was terrified at the thought of going away alone with two young kids (then aged four and seven), so this was a great option for me. Going alone was NOT an option for me, and when that was previously suggested, I made many excuses:

“I can’t afford it”, “the kids are too young”, “I'm scared to leave my sanctuary (my home)”, “I need to save my annual leave for a rainy day" (as my ex never shared his with the kids, it was up to me!).

You get the picture.

I was fortunate enough that for this holiday, my mother offered to pay for the kids, so I only had to pay for myself and the accommodation (and as any of you single parents know, EVERY bit helps!). I was too busy working full-time and was too mentally exhausted to even plan or contribute to planning the trip -- mum did all of that, and I just paid my share.

READ MORE: Quattro Reasons To Take Your Kids To Italy

Going on holiday alone with kids was NOT an option for me. (Image: Getty)

So off we went, and let’s just say I barely got any alone time from the kids, despite having family there. But it was nice, and I came back browner and a little more relaxed. I spent quite a few moments on that trip with my glasses on in tears, still processing the whole separation and the sheer fact that I had to rely on family to make a holiday a reality.

Since my first holiday after my separation, here is how I made holidays happen as a single parent:

Travel with Family

Convince family to join you.  This has many benefits:

  1. It helps with the cost.
  2. It allows you to take turns babysitting or just get some alone time.
  3. It helps diffuse the feelings of loneliness.
  4. It helps you get out of your comfort zone if you are like me: terrified of travelling alone with kids. This is a great first step to travel.

READ MORE: I Go On Holiday Without My Husband And That's Just Fine With Us

Just the three of us, but with family around for support. (Image: Supplied)
Single Parent Travel buddy

Find another single parent to go on holiday with you! This works if you set up the expectations for both sides and select someone that complements your vibe and your tribe. Here are some of the benefits of having a single parent travel buddy:

  1. It helps with the cost. We always paid in instalments to enable us to have money when we arrived. We booked a self-contained apartment close to a grocery store rather than eating take-away each night. We paid for rental cars ahead of time -- at least partially. We paid for theme park tickets beforehand. These approaches helped make the holiday costs more manageable.
  2. We took take turns babysitting, so we could each spend time with each child one-on-one.
  3. It provides company for your kids.
  4. It provides you with adult company when the kids are in bed, to have a nice quiet drink after chaos of family games.

READ MORE: Why Splendour In The Grass Should Be Your Next Family Holiday

Finding a single parent travel buddy is a great way to go on a family holiday. (Image: Supplied)
Set up a Mums/Kids or Dads/Kids weekend away

If money is tight, then going away with friends in a similar place makes it more affordable, while still making you feel like you have been away from the monotony of your normal “routine”. Consider organising a getaway closer to home, even for just a few nights. The beach always worked for us!

Staycation

I used to go online and book us 'staycations' right here at home in the CBD. Exploring cheap internet options and deals can provide a spontaneous escape that lets you take a break from cleaning, cooking and doing the things that keep us busy as single parents.

Other options that I haven’t tried but would have definitely entertained are:

Single Parent Group Tours

If finances are not an issue, consider booking group tours. Plenty of businesses now cater for single parent families more and more. This way you can meet new GLOBAL friends and perhaps set new dreams and goals.

Family Cruise

The benefit here is that you pay most fees up-front, and you also get to meet other people. The kids are then entertained by other kids on board. There seems to be endless activities for everyone. I haven’t actually gone on a cruise myself, however I know many that have as single parents.

READ MORE: This Is Where You're Going On Holiday Next Year

Even if you're single, amazing family holidays can happen in lots of different ways. (Image: Getty)

Setting up things to look forward to really helped my vibe and helped distract me from my pain, even if it was just temporary. No matter what your financial situation, holidays can really help.  So, plan ahead and set up an escape.

You are now steering your little family -- get planning and make it happen!

For more information on single parenting, separation and divorce, and to find a separation TRIBE, visit The Separation Exchange. Find more information on single parent group tours here and here