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What do you DO on holiday with young kids

(57 Posts)
Softywife Tue 14-May-13 11:54:15

What do you DO on holiday with young kids? Especially if you're on your own?

When I was single I thought of a holiday as exploring somewhere I'd never been to before. Maybe an interesting, historical city or perhaps a beautiful landscape. Plenty of walking, sightseeing and learning about the culture. Or trying a new activity. Not necessarily far-flung or expensive. But basically something active or different.

My DDs are 4 and 1 1/2 and in the summer we'll be revisiting a mediterranean town we go to each year (because my husband's extended family live there). It'll be lovely to see his relatives at the weekend but on the whole I'll be on my own whilst we're there, plus possibly the occasional afternoon with DH.

Before anyone points it out.... I know I'm lucky to get a holiday at all - a change of scene and some extra sunshine. And I realise that I have to change my expectations from pre-marriage/kids. I'm really after more constructive suggestions as to how to keep it interesting for all 3 of us.

I've seen the local sights many times now and we visited all the tourist spots in the country before we had kids. I'll obviously spend some time reading to them but, again, not all day, every day - we might as well be at home. DD1 is also into dancing, drawing and crafts. DD2 likes soft play and dolls. But I can't see how I can included any of that in our holiday. Any ideas?

I'll be hiring a car and there're beautiful views from the roads but parking's difficult away from the apartment. I'll be 20 mins' walk from a small, very busy, but sandy, beach and it's usually sunny and around 24-33 degrees. But I'm really not looking forward to sitting on a crowded beach all day, every day, making sand castles for a whole week....

Should I steel myself to a very boring long week or has anyone got any bright ideas for making it fun for the kids and myself? I could budget about £20 a day for entertainment.

What would you pack to keep them (and me) happy and what would you plan to get us all out of the apartment?

Thanks for reading all this and for any suggestions.

sweetestcup Thu 16-May-13 09:32:46

Why is your DH not going to be with you a lot of the time?

Softywife Wed 15-May-13 22:27:06

Brilliant, lots of ideas thanks.

Thebrightsideoflife Wed 15-May-13 12:51:07

The kids might be a bit too young yet, but treasure hunts are always a winner - geocaching? see and check out on that site whether there are any caches to find in the area you are going. we started doing it recently and you can't beat the look on their faces when you find your first treasure that someone has left there potentially years ago!
Planning adventure walks to different places with picnics. Letting the little ones decide which way to go at each junction?
Fix up some dates with other kids via the in-laws?
Devising some i-spy cards for the 4 year old for her to tick off or a list of things to collect on the beach.

WallyBantersYoniBox Wed 15-May-13 12:23:16

It is really hard to think back and recall what we did with DS but it seemed to involve him teetering around exploring new surroundings whilst one of us followed behind, giving the other half a rest. Or, when my DH was diving, just me pootling behind DS in my swimsuit as he investigated bushes, trees etc in the park, playground or hotel grounds.

Picnics seem to delight young kids too, so you can easily spread an afternoon out on a big blanket in some shade. I used to put DS on a lounger under a cool towel for an afternoon sleep and stretch out next to him for a read/snooze. Then a game of catch with a big sponge ball can keep them active in the cooler part of the afternoon.

He seemed to sleep more in the day due to the heat/late nights in the push chair strolling around, IIRC.

Softywife Wed 15-May-13 08:35:31

Thanks both of you.

noramum Tue 14-May-13 21:52:04

The are sounds like the town I grew up where there is nothing going on at weekends and holiday activities are geared for 6+ year olds. It seems small children don't count.

One reason why we invite my mum over to us instead of spending a week where DD gets bored as like you all children are older or not even in the area.

I think you need to see it as a visit to your in-laws and not a holiday. Are you able to take another break somewhere else so you feel a bit better? While it is important to see elderly parents, and I have my mum and my in-laws nearly 80 so I know what you mean, this is not our holiday.

Oh, and invest in a couple of the overpriced Usborne Dolly Sticker books, one way to keep DD amused for quite a long time.

specialmagiclady Tue 14-May-13 17:49:20

I concur with those who say that it may not feel like much of a holiday. BUT there will be lovely moments. Kids this age bloody love an ancient monument for example - but they may spend the time playing in the dust rather than looking at the Corinthian columns. We took our kids to Marrakech and they mostly ate ice cream and played in the gravel in the park. Also they walked along every low wall. We did one thing for the adults each day and the rest of the time we pottered about in shady parks. They weren't keen on the souks but they loved the Baadi Palace with its storks-nests and tunnels.

People in Mediterranean towns do have kids too. There may be an unappetising-looking park. But it doesn't have to be appealing to you. A bit of shade and a barely functioning swing set is enough for small kids.

We found the soft play in Marrakech and the kids spent hours on the trampoline....

Get out and go for a walk every day. The beach is almost endlessly amusing for small people. Maybe you could relax and enjoy how much fun they're having. And try and get away for a short break with DH or some friends at another time of year.

Softywife Tue 14-May-13 17:20:21

Very true.

Fluffy1234 Tue 14-May-13 16:52:15

"at times" being the key words, not all the time. At other times absolutely amazing having time with the DC and none of the usual distractions and day to day jobs and chores to do.

Softywife Tue 14-May-13 16:42:43

Oops, I found holidays could be quite difficult at times when the DC were pre school

Softywife Tue 14-May-13 16:42:20

Nicolaeus, Definitely taking stickers and a blow up ball, thanks!

Thanks xlatia.

I think you slightly need to re-adjust your mindset as this isn't a holiday, its visiting relatives. and 6I found holidays could be quite difficult at times when the DC were pre school^ Wise words Murtette and Fluffy. Maybe that's what I've been struggling with. Expecting it to be a holiday.

Fluffy1234 Tue 14-May-13 14:45:41

I found holidays could be quite difficult at times when the DC were pre school unless there was some childcare. I still quite a went away quite a lot because the DC enjoyed them and also I really wanted them to get them used to travelling and change of routine etc. When DS3 was 5 we did our first long haul holiday and it went so well we started to get more adventurous and have had amazing family holidays including 2 of our favourites to Rio and Cape Town.
I had my DC young though so don't really have any pre children holidays to compare them with.
Try not to worry about your trip, think of it more as visiting family than an actual holiday.

Margetts Tue 14-May-13 14:37:40

My DC will spend hours on a beach picking up shells and building sand castles. I bought myself a decent spade with a long handle and we build castles with a trench down to the sea, so when the tide comes in the water rushes round the moat - they love it every time.
Tiny fold away kites they love
We always buy new DVD to watch, and me for my DH and me as well.
Most of the time we spend outdoors on holiday

Softywife Tue 14-May-13 14:33:34

PostBellumBugsy, From what age did you start to enjoy holidays again?

Softywife Tue 14-May-13 14:32:32

Yes, we can leave things there if we don't need them at home.

She really doesn't like anyone else in her little kitchen. We're renting an apartment partly so that she doesn't have to get us breakfast.

She definitely wants to see the kids, how long for depends on how tired she is. Her near-deafness is more of a barrier than the language is but snap and dominos could be good. Another one for the list.

Murtette Tue 14-May-13 14:23:16

Baths - DD loves being in the bath so will often randomly have one in the middle of the day when we're away. A few plastic cups & jugs from the kitchen & she's very happy.

Will your DH's grandmother be able to store things for you between trips? Do any of your DC's cousins have toys in the loft or anything you could borrow?

Is DH's grandmother a doting great grandmother who wants to spend time with her great grandchildren? If so, is she able to play snap or dominos or something with your older DD? I would have thought that its fairly easy to play that without much common language. Can your DD "put on a concert" for her (ie sing some nursery rhymes), cook her tea or just paint umpteen pictures for her?

Softywife Tue 14-May-13 14:20:29

I did all the same stuff I did with them at home only with less home comforts around me.

I'm worried that's how I'm going to feel.

Softywife Tue 14-May-13 14:19:04

Right, pipe cleaners, stacking cups, elastic and dominos added.

Siesta? It might take all week to convince my two... [hmmm]

PostBellumBugsy Tue 14-May-13 14:17:59

Softy, if I'm honest, no I didn't really enjoy holidays with the DCs when they were little. The journeys used to kill me before we even started. I did all the same stuff I did with them at home only with less home comforts around me. Splashing about in the pool was ok, but I used to be desperate for an actual rest. Maybe it is not so bad if there are two parents.

However, it toughened me up & I appreciate every minute of my holidays with them now they are older. We go exploring, I get to read my book, sunbathe and swim again. We pick places to see together & decide when we want veg days too. It is really great.

Softywife Tue 14-May-13 14:17:46

Murtette, The tourism website's leisure section recommends casinos and nightclubs grin

SkiBumMum Tue 14-May-13 14:12:56

Pipe cleaners! They are fab for modelling and light weight. Stacking cups are also good for all sorts of games way past toddler age. Some elastic to play French skipping if old enough. Dominos. Siesta!

Softywife Tue 14-May-13 14:10:23

I second getting a local guidebook which specialises in things for children to do

If only! Maybe I should start one!!!

Softywife Tue 14-May-13 14:09:50

DDs are learning the language.

Softywife Tue 14-May-13 14:08:56


Softywife Tue 14-May-13 14:08:48

So many idea here, I think I'll print the thread out.

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