I always find it incredible that when I go on holiday something profound seems to shift. Literally every trip I’ve been on in the last few years has brought a positive change in some way – Thailand, New York, New York again, Paxos – and I think the perspective you gain by being somewhere geographically foreign to you is one of the most incredible gifts.
You see yourself in a slightly different light, see the world in a slightly different light. It’s a crash-course in self- and world-awareness.
And yet you return home after your life-shifting travels and everything is the same. Same routines, same job, same school runs. It’s so easy to return to your old life and slowly forget how your travels made you feel; if you’re not careful your time away almost feels like it hasn’t happened.
That’s how I feel last week. We – the kids and I, fresh from our first Single Parent holiday – left Mark Warner’s Lakitira resort on Wednesday evening. I flew home with my two babies asleep on my lap: pondering the ins and outs of the last week we’d spent together. Just the three of us in a foreign land together with a whole lot of fun. I swear my heart swelled a little as I stroked their hair and thought about the experiences we’d shared. It couldn’t have been better experience, for any of us.
And then I got home, did my school runs, made packed lunches, washed four loads of dirty clothes, bleached the sink and caught up on my emails. POOF! It was if our holiday had never happened.
But I don’t want to forget – I really don’t. Because our week together was really something special.
I mean, I knew it was going to be good. Send me away to a Greek island with the loves of my life and include food, one or two (or eight) drinks and sunshine-based activities and I’m going to be a very happy camper.
You see, sometimes I think I get a bit of a bum deal as a single mum when it comes to the fun parts of parenting. Our school days are scheduled to the nth degree with lessons, clubs, playdates and activities. I do the discipline, the doctor’s appointments, the parents evenings. Even our weekends are somewhat taken away from us with a need to run essential errands or catch up on the business of the preceding week. I sometimes wish I had a bit more freedom to just have fun with the kids, rather than letting our highly-scheduled life and admin get in the way.
And so I was very much ready to turn on my out of office, take off my mum-organizer-administrator-taxi driver hat and get ready to enjoy a whole unencumbered week in the company of my children.
I was excited, yes, but I have to admit to feeling WAY out of my depth when we arrived at Lakitira. The resort was intimidatingly large, full of families who looked like they knew what they were doing and had been doing so for years. I got lost on my way to our room and confused over the times of our introductory meetings: having never been on a package holiday before I felt uninitiated into a club that everyone else seemed to be a member of. I didn’t know the rules or the handshakes or any other members of the club.
That feeling literally took 12 hours to dissipate. Having already bumped into lovely Zoe of Dress Like a Mum at the airport with her family I didn’t quite feel so much like the new kid at school, and the fact our children got on famously helped a bunch as we bonded over rosé while they wrestled with LEGO.
We all soon got into the swing of things, and I have to say, as a planning and organization aficionado, I’m thoroughly a package holiday convert. Having someone to take the stress out of making sure we are where we’re supposed to be when we’re supposed to be there? Why would you do it any other way?!
Previously I’d wondered why you’d want to go on such a pre-arranged cookie-cutter holiday with loads of other families, but a day at Mark Warner Lakitira and I immediately understood.
The answer: KIDS. The happiness of those kids. The activities for those kids, the entertainment and food and sheer EASE of the whole thing. The not having to cook or clean, the routine of the meal times, the wonderful childcare and genius of maid service. Why book an intrepid journey to your own villa on a tiny island to ‘live like a local’ when you could have your life sorted in an all-inclusive hotel?
The fact that everything was sorted from us from the get-go meant that I was free to do the important stuff with the children: swim, play and laugh. And we did all these things to excess. But there was the added benefit of that wonderful balance with the inclusive Mark Warner childcare: send me away to manhandle the children one-handed 24/7 on holiday and I would most likely end up run ragged, but having the relief of three hours childcare to myself every day was a dream. Just what I needed.
I’ll be back with more thoughts on our holiday as a whole – the resort, the childcare, the single parent aspect – but for now, let me tell you I’ve already priced up a return to Lakitira next year.
But in 2017 I want 14 days, not 7.