Why I'm prioritising a solo holiday over a holiday with my kids

Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock 

Everyone in my house could do with a holiday. Who am I kidding, we all could. My family has had a year full of ups and downs and, at just past halfway through the year, our batteries are running pretty low. 

But as a single mum of three kids, I've decided to take myself away for a holiday before I embark on a family getaway – and I feel zero guilt about it. 

Selfish? Perhaps, but in the very best of ways. 

Next month I'm heading away to Bali for a week of sun. I'll read books, swim, drink a few cocktails and enjoy some much-needed solitude – all while my kids are back here, sharing themselves between their dad and my mother. 

Of course, my children would love to come too, but I've told them they'll have to wait until next time, because right now the idea of a week-long family holiday makes me want to weep with exhaustion. 

Here's how I see it: a holiday with kids is not the same holiday for parents. It's an adventure, sure, and it can be a lot of fun, but if it's a break you're after, you're better off staying at home. 

Holidays with kids – especially overseas ones – involve a lot of unfamiliar food, travel, fatigue, new experiences, meeting new people, and around-the-clock parenting. This goes double for single parents – you are on duty 24 hours a day from start to finish, no time out. And that is exhausting.

Would there be lots of fun and wonderful memories made? Absolutely, but there would also be lots of stress to balance that out. 

So I'm taking myself away first. I'm going to recharge my batteries, take care of me, and remember what it's like to put myself first.

Advertisement

It's like the old plane oxygen mask we all like to talk about – I'm putting that on myself before I put it on my kids. Because a burnt-out mum is a useless mum. 

I've told my children we can start planning for a family holiday when I get back. It will be a while before we can get away for that trip but in the meantime, we'll have fun at home and go on some local camping trips.

When I told my children they might have to wait a while before we can head away on our big family overseas trip, they weren't even that disappointed. The fact is, they like camping and doing fun activities at home – they enjoy their comfort zone.

I know travel will be great for them, but for now, I'm doing what's great for me.

I've had friends tell me they could never leave their children to go on a holiday. 

"I guess I just care too much," shrugged one, leaving the air heavy with the implication that I must love my children less than she does because I can stand to leave them for a week.

"It's not that I don't care," I told her. "It's that I don't feel the need to hold onto them that tightly."

I think there's something wonderful about missing each other and being happy to be together again – having new stories to tell and questions to ask. We can all appreciate our time together and nurture our other relationships. 

I have no desire to watch my children grow up into martyrs, and I know they can only model what they see. What I want them to see in me is a woman who knows when to work hard, and when to stop and take care of herself. 

I know when I get back I'll be a happier woman and a better mum. And I might even have the energy for a family holiday.