We’re just back from a week away with our little family, our first holiday with both boys, and despite my fears of being cooped up in a mobile home with a rampaging three year old and a teething newborn while it rained apocalyptic rains outside, we had a really fantastic time!
I thought I’d share some top tips for UK based holidays with little ones. These are things we adopted last week and tips that, I think, make holidays more fun for everyone and a whole lot less stressful.
1 – Pack toys that they’re familiar with, and some new ones
We got a new Thomas sticker book which went down well, and filled in the time waiting for everyone to get up in the morning, or when we were packing up the car to go out. We also indulged Elliot with some new books to make bedtimes fun.
2 – Save time by planning dinners before you go
I spent a few minutes photographing recipes on my iPad and packing little pots of any spices etc we needed in little tubs so we didn’t have to spend time and money buying five spice, soy sauce or tomato paste while we were away. I also made a huge shopping list of everything else which meant we just had to do one huge shop on day one and didn’t have the repetitive conversations of “what shall we eat today?” throughout the holiday. We chose recipes that were fairly quick and easy – a Jamie Oliver chicken tray bake, some lamb koftes from the Organix website, a salad, and a speedy chicken noodle recipe (also from Jamie)
These were all things we knew Elliot would eat too, so it made it really easy to have yummy family dinners all cooked from scratch.
3 – Holiday baking
One of Elliot’s favourite thing to do is to make biscuits, and i thought they’d make a great treat addition to the daily picnics we had planned. I found the simplest recipe ever online which basically is a simple shortbread (flour, butter, sugar). We didn’t want to buy bags of flour and only use part of it, so again I got out my trusty Tupperware and weighed out everything we needed before we set off, and packed a couple of cookie cutters from home.
4 – Sandwich cutters make picnics fun!
Daily picnics (or car-nics, in the rain…) can get a bit boring so I tucked out little dinosaur sandwich cutter in when packing and the sandwiches disappeared quicker than quick, accompanied by the occasional “RRRRROAR!”
5 – Plan activities to match child’s age & interests, but don’t be afraid to throw a curveball in there too
We went at Elliot’s pace mostly, and ensured that we spent time driving when the baby didn’t need a feed, which lowered our potential stress levels! We spent time on beaches and in swimming pools (bring a noodle float, baby float/ring thing as appropriate!) and we also spent time chilling out back at the ranch and doing short walks. BUT we weren’t afraid to push boundaries, and it really paid off – Elliot screamed blue murder being strapped into a bike seat, but absolutely LOVED it “Mummy, I love this bike!”
6 – Have “best thing about today” conversations at the end of each day
If your child is anything like mine, if you ask them what they’ve done at the end of the day, or return home from nursery/school, the answer you’ll normally get is “I don’t know” or “nothing”
I read a tip some weeks ago that I’ve been using on and off with Elliot, and we did this each and every day while on holiday, asking him what his best bit of the day was, and then sharing ours. It allows them to search through their day and find a moment that made them happy. We got some surprise answers and it really helped us plan for the next day – for example one day his favourite thing was the short walk in the woods near the mobile home that we did while dinner was cooking. Literally 15 minutes, but that was his best thing, so it helped us decide to do a longer walk later in the week.
Elliot loved these conversations and was very good at reminding us to do it as we tucked him up in bed.
7 – Keep notes of what you do each day
In a similar vein to number 6 above, I think it’s a great idea to keep a little note of what you’ve done each day. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, just notes on your phone or on the back of an envelope will do. Remember holidays with little ones are all about making memories, for you as well as for them!