• Guest Article by a Local Mumma •
Kid friendly holidays – Is there such a thing you ask?
So you really need a holiday. A break from the everyday – work, cleaning, cooking… It all seems like a great idea in the planning phase but a successful kid friendly holiday lies in the detail. Holidays now I have two young crazy boys are very different from the spontaneous trips I used to enjoy, with little or no planning required. Here are my top five tips to help you plan a successful family friendly holiday with the kids big and small.
Know yourself and your family. Choose a holiday that actually suits your family’s interests and not something that your other mum friends did or what’s popular at the moment. This may seem obvious but you’d be surprised how many people come back underwhelmed and completely stressed after a holiday. Like an active family who got bored and felt trapped on a cruise. The family who likes their creature comforts hated the camping trip or caravanning. The family who likes to chill out in the warm weather loathed the ski holiday. If you don’t want to cook on holidays don’t book a house with two other families and eight kids combined as you’ll be catering every night for 14 people. Think about the details…..
Also the all-important detail that often gets over looked. Does it have a kids club, what ages does it actually take, hours open and ohhh will your child actually be happy going there??
Both parents need to be realistic. You’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii and you don’t want to let kids get in the way of your bucket list. Sounds great but remember it’s a 10 hour flight plus two hours before at the airport. And you probably won’t be bar hopping along the beach like you may have imagined– although you could try but you’ll be lugging a bored demanding two year old etc…
Your holiday destination is likely to change dramatically when you have young kids, but rest assured that one day you will be able to plan that trek up Macho Pitchu. Just maybe not advisable with a whining four year old who can get tired legs after 100 metres.
This is possibly the most important tip. Consider how you and your partner will spend the holiday time together, once the kids are asleep. Do you really want to be tip toeing around in a dark hotel room that you’re all sleeping in with the TV so low you can’t hear it?
Ideally there will be a separate area, like a balcony or lounge room where the adults can retreat to, relax, chat, have a drink or two and maybe even watch TV that’s not Peppa Pig? For example, if you were to organise a trip through NZ in a campervan, the only space to retreat to is outside the van once the kids asleep. This may not be so practical when it’s cold or raining.
Don’t be overly ambitious – dads this means you too. One activity a day is often enough for young kids. Too much planning can lead to no one enjoying the holiday. We are all familiar with ‘witching hour’ so trying to fit too much in throughout the day without planning rest time often leads to meltdowns, tears and tantrums at 5pm when you want to be settling down to watch the sunset with a drink.
Rediscover your childhood and have fun – go down the waterslides with your kids that you might be otherwise too embarrassed to do. Do the theme parks, play in playgrounds. Book those fun holidays or activities you’ve forgotten about since you were a kid. Don’t watch your kids or just take videos, join in with them. Everyone will have more fun.
Be prepared, patient and realistic. Holidays with kids won’t be all plain sailing and often not as relaxing as you’d like but lower the expectation and anything that goes reasonably without drama is a win.
I have two very active boys aged two and four. My top five favourite kid friendly holiday destinations are:
- A week or so in Queensland hiring a kid friendly house on a farm on the sunshine coast. Short cheap flight, easy to hire car. Home kitchen to allow for the fussy toddler who only eats peanut butter sandwiches at restaurants. May seem boring but if everyone’s enjoying themselves then in my eyes it’s a win
- Fiji/Bali – the ultimate kid friendly holiday. But be aware of the travel times once you add up waiting times for overseas flights – it can add up to between 8 and 12 hours travel time including ferries, transfers and delays depending on where you’re going. Perhaps plan a stopover night…
- South or North Coast NSW – Again may seem dull but there’s a reason why these areas are packed with kids. Australia is absolutely beautiful. Think rock pools, walks by the beaches, kangaroos.. Reconnecting with your family and kids in beautiful settings.
- Skiing for the keener more active families. The cons – the two hours it takes to get ready, the meltdowns on the snow, the cold hands and feet. But the pros – if you are snow fanatics you can push through the cons because you get to ski, plus the ultimate cuteness is a child in a onesie ski suit.
- Canberra…. Urgh I hear you utter, that was the place of school camps. But it’s a super easy, quick holiday you can drive to. Good value accommodation. Cycle lanes, museums everywhere and Questacon is amazing for kids.
Heather is a mum to two young boys and also works as a landscape architect. She raises her boys in an alternative life style on the Woronora River in Sydney’s South with only boat access to the house. Her family loves boating and skiing.