Caring for Your Children on Holiday

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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

There’s an increasing number of families travelling with children under the age of 5 and many more choosing not to opt for childcare services, instead using the time to spend with their children. Nevertheless, parents still have a number of fears when travelling abroad with young children for the first time.

In a recent survey conducted by Tots To Travel amongst its own customer database, the family holiday company found that around 46% of mothers did not want childcare whilst vacationing. In addition to this, 73% of parents opt for self-catering because it allows greater flexibility and independence for their families. However, 15% of families admitted that not knowing what to expect is a huge cause of stress before beginning your holiday.

To help ensure parents peace of mind, Tots To Travel founder and director Wendy Shand has put together ‘Five Do’s and Don’ts to keeping kids content this summer’:

Do stick to your children’s routine

Wake up times, nap times, even bed times should all be followed by as much as possible; even if this means lunches out instead of dinners then so-be-it. If you are willing to bend the “no childcare” mantra a bit, then a babysitter (or taking grandparent on holiday) is a great solution. This can also help you and your family finds the perfect balance between spending time all together and for more personal moments with your partner.

Don’t try and emulate holidays “before children”

Sticking to your child’s routine may mean a slighter earlier day than you were used to on your holidays, but seeing as you’ve surely adapted to it by now, you should see the benefits. Heading out to local markets or attractions early in the morning may mean bagging the best bargains, missing out on queues and snapping up the freshest produce. Go with the flow, and enjoy a siesta by the pool in the afternoon instead (whilst kids are napping). This is especially ideal when travelling to hot destinations, as you’ll see yourself becoming more inactive as the day goes by. Through getting everything you planned done earlier in the day, you can reap the rewards later.

Do prepare yourselves; especially if you have nominated yourself as play leader

Have pool games top of mind, think about crafts and activities which are easy to do on holiday (pool-side washing up with a bucket, soap suds and brushes can be a life saver), even pre-download child friendly apps onto tablets – ready to entertain young ones when you’re out and about. If you’re driving, a laptop and a DVD can go a long way to ensuring your child is happily occupied. A bored child can be a nightmare in any situation and can cause a lot of friction on your holiday. 

Don’t forget to hydrate

Children in particular forget that they are thirsty and can dehydrate very quickly, leading to grumpiness or worse. If your child is reluctant to drink bottles of water, have some tricks up your sleeve. Colourful, bendy straws are popular, frozen, watery-based, fruit pops (or even melon cubes frozen) are a great substitute and use spray bottles to spritz you and the children regularly. Dehydration can be a dangerous thing that can be easily prevented if you prepare yourselves in advance.

Do stay cool whilst simultaneously keeping your environment as cool as possible, especially if your accommodation is lacking air conditioning

If this is the case, there is one technique which is sure to help you out. First thing in the morning, open all the windows to bring down the house temperature and catch any breeze. At around 10.30, when it starts to get hotter outside, close shutters to keep the sun out and any cool air in. Then, in the evening, open the shutters again, to let cooler night air circulate. If heat is extreme, late afternoon dips or cool baths and a “cold water bottle” are all great ways of cooling the children down.

Travelling abroad for the first time with your family can be daunting, but with these useful tips you are sure to survive the experience. It’s easy to make mistakes and forget things when away from home but with plenty of practice and preparation, it can be a stress-free holiday. This is a time to unwind and relax, where you can ideally leave your troubles behind. Spending quality time with your family is not always possible, so when it is, you should get the most out of it. These tips should help you on your way to spending a memorable holiday together.