I recently embarked on some solo mum travel. Check out my lovely holiday snaps on Instagram. I was on the beautiful island of Zante with my 19 month old daughter. What a lovely time I had. Stunning setting. Gorgeous weather. Delicious food. Perfect pictures. Oh what a fantastic image it portrays.
In reality, the facts are slightly different.
The flights were tough as my daughter does not like to sit still on my knee for any length of time. The accommodation was not ideal for the buggy as there were loads of stairs. The pool was deep and open, so I could not take my eye off Daisy for even a second. Trying to catch up with friends was hard when I needed to entertain an 18 month old. I missed the wedding dinner as I was putting her to bed. I missed most of the church service as it was hot and crowded in there and so we waited outside.
That being said, we swam in beautiful waters which Daisy loved. The delicious Greek food went down extremely well with us both. We got to attend an amazing wedding at an absolutely stunning venue. It was great to be able to see my lovely friends get married. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss that. We spent lot’s of quality time together. As always I see Daisy come on in leaps and bounds when she is taken our of her comfort zone and routine.
In fairness, I did share quite a candid account of the trip on Instagram. I think it is extremely important to be balanced and to not glorify experiences. Many people are deciding if this is a path they want to go down. I don’t want them to have unrealistic expectations or comparisons of how it really is.
Am I glad I went on the trip? Yes, I really am. I did overall have a good time. Was it easy? Absolutely not. It was like an endurance event! Would I do things differently? Yes I would and here is what:
It helps if you are able to flex your plans depending on what happens. You will possibly enjoy yourself more if you don’t have a set plan of exactly how things will be, but are able to tailor things as you go. If you are determined to stick to a set schedule, it might cause you some stress if things don’t work out as expected. This can be tough if you are attending a wedding, as there is a set schedule and timing to follow. It is still possible to be flexible within this though.
Set realistic expectations
Does your toddler sit still for 3 hours at home and contentedly play on your knee? Probably not. So why would we suddenly expect them to behave in this way when on a plane, or attending a wedding. I have reset my expectations of what is likely with an 19 month old and therefore can plan around this more effectively. Having more realistic expectations, means less surprises and possible dissappointment.
Ask for help
I didn’t have enough people around me to help me out as much as I needed. I was with a friendship group most of who don’t have kids and were not freely offering to support me.
Rather than wait for them to offer, I asked for help when I needed it. For example, I asked one friend to watch Daisy in the playground while I went to dry my hair. I asked the people in the hotel to help me carry the buggy down the stairs so as not to wake her up. I asked the other guests to help me carry my suitcase down to the taxi as I didn’t have enough hands.
In the past I would have been tempted to struggle on my own, but I am getting more used to asking for help where it will make my life significantly easier.
Pay for help if you can
I made the mistake of sharing a baby sitter. It didn’t work out at all. We had asked the venue to provide a babysitter, so the children were there in the same place we were. As lovely and competent as she was, she couldn’t manage two children of the same age both needing to get to sleep at the same time. What this meant is that I spent nearly 1.5 hours in the hotel room getting Daisy to sleep and missing the wedding dinner.
For my next trip, I was also going to share childcare, but I have changed the plan on this one and am investing in getting help dedicated for Daisy and I so we can both feel relaxed and enjoy our time away.
I also won’t try to put Daisy to sleep around my schedule, but stick to her schedule. This, I believe works much more effectively.
I often get asked how to find a babysitter you trust when you are away. Also how I feel about leaving my daughter with a baby sitter when I am away. I will write a separate in depth post about this.
Research child friendly accommodation
I did not look into my accommodation well. All I asked for is a cot. I didn’t realise there were steps all around so I couldn’t get the buggy up to the room. There was an open deep swimming pool, so I couldn’t take my eye off Daisy for a single second. There was no contained space where she could run around freely. For this reason I kept on having to tell her no and stopping her exploring how she wanted to. Next time I would take more care to choose more suitable accommodation.
Accept you may have to do your own thing
I would have loved to spend the entire trip with my friends, but it didn’t work out that way. My daughter and I ended up spending two days and an evening on our own. It was too much to keep up with the group plans and not fair on Daisy which in turn would make it not enjoyable for either of us.
Instead of feeling like I was missing out on the plans, I focused on enjoying the time with my daughter. I also brought my book so when I was in the room in the evening alone, I could read. It was also a great opportunity to have a lot of early nights which helped my energy for the days.
I am doing more solo mum travel in 3 weeks time. We have a wedding in South Africa. I am going to do things quite differently based on what I have learnt. Let’s see how it goes. I’ll keep you posted.