Why it’s Important to Get Away without the Kids

All the Guilt of a Mama

Last year I  did something we don’t normally do, it’s well away from the realms of my ‘normal’ life; I took a trip away with my husband to Madrid, and while it was awesome in every way I still felt a twang of guilt. I’ve been a Stay at Home Mum for the last ten years of my life, my job by it’s definition is caring for other people, full time, with no pay, no days off, no annual leave.

And while I know on every level how lucky and fortunate I am to be able to do this for my family it’s not always easy. Like all parenting whilst being amazing, incredible and rewarding, it is also relentless and exhausting, everyday.

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Away without the Smalls!

‘Yes, we are leaving the children behind’

Harrogate Papa and I have always tried to get away just once a year on our own. It’s usually just one night away at a nice hotel somewhere not too far away. When it was our ten year wedding anniversary we ventured abroad together, alone, for the first time for five days- which was beyond awesome.

Last year we were lucky enough to get away for three nights in Madrid. Each time we go away I have the same nagging doubt, the slightly embarrassed reveal with friends, that yes we are going away, yes, just the two of us and yes, we are leaving the children behind. And while I know none of them judge us for our choices, I can’t help but judge ourselves.

Feeling Selfish and Irresponsible

Is it irresponsible to leave our kids behind, jet off on an aeroplane to a foreign country, miles and hours and days away travel -wise from returning if they should need us. Is it selfish to spend the family income on something that doesn’t benefit the whole family, are the kids jealous we’re jetting off and leaving them behind. Will they miss us and wonder why we’ve abandoned them. Is it fair on the grandparents we leave ‘holding the baby’.

There are 365 days in a year

So while all these thoughts run around in my head, I have to hold on to the reasons we do this. That there are 52 weekends in a year that for 51 of them we are always there, running them around to weekend activities, dropping them at their friends birthday parties, making lunch and dinner, watching DVDs together, going to the park. That for just three days out of the 365 in a year they will actually okay without us. That actually to spend some time away from them is good for everyone.

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Madrid as grown ups!

The Importance of Your Other Half

The importance of spending time with your husband is huge. Your partner is the biggest influence in your children’s life and in your life. They are the central part of your existence, the person you chose to spend the rest of your life with. And while you are busy vacuuming the Rice Krispies off the floor, going to parents evening and making sure you’ve got something in for tea ultimately you need something to hold you two together. You need your other half, that’s why it’s called that.

Especially when you’re a parent who is so busy giving your time, love and attention to the humans you have created it’s really important to ensure you put some of that energy in to each other.

And while those girlie breaks away and nights out with like minded mamas are essential too – there is no trip more essential for you as a Mama than they one you spend with your partner.

Hanging Out with the Grown-Ups

While we were away in Madrid we explored, we adventured, we did what we wanted to do when we wanted to do it without the time constraints that young children bring to travel and trips. We hung out with the grown ups, drank in bars, ate late, walked km after km, saw things that the kids wouldn’t have been remotely interested and ran around the city like a couple of carefree teenagers.

Creating Memories

But the single most important part of that is that we did it together, creating memories for just us that the two of us will go on to shrare for a lifetime. I know it’s an indulgence, I know it’s a luxury, I know it appeared selfish – but what could be more important than investing in your long term relationship, in your happily ever after, in making more glue that holds your family together than a trip away.

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Lucy and James – a weekend off being ‘someone’s parents’!

Getting Off ‘Real Life’ for a bit matters

What’s more is that as parents we returned refreshed, revitalised with life, glad to see our family, even more of a family unit than previously. The kids have missed us, they liked us again for a little bit (and we liked them). The day to day ness of parenting will always be there. For a couple of nights, the money, the time away from the kids, the getting-off real life for a bit has made us better people, better parents and a better family unit.

Lucy xx

 

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How to Survive a Long Car Journey Solo with A Pre-Schooler

A little while ago I made a solo seven-hour round car trip on my own with a pre-schooler! Fortunately it all went fairly smoothly and I had some amazing top tips before I left. So I’m sharing my experiences in this post in case you’re looking for ways to survive such a journey this summer!

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Managing a long car journey solo with a Small One

1.) Pack Well

I took two canvas style shopping bags with me and propped them, open, in the front seat next to me as the driver. One was full of toys and activities and the other food and drink! With the Small Boy in the back it made it much easier for me to reach and find things easily to pass to him.

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Two bags organised into snacks/drinks and toys/books

2.) Toys to take

Toys that were a hit were things I’d packaged up well before I went. I filled sandwich bags with little characters that the Small Boy could have fun opening and getting out and putting away again! A soft cloth bag filled with random hits of the moment including sunglasses, super hero character, pretend mobile phones. And small books are always a winner!

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Small toys in sandwich bags to make them look more exciting!

3.) Package up the food well

I realised I didn’t want to be chucking food and snacks back to the Small Boy for the whole journey so I packaged it up in smaller containers so he could help himself without having too much in one go. The jelly babies in these little pots were a life saver!

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Packaged up food into little pots – look away now if sweet treats are not your thing! 😬

4.) Non-spill drinks

I took water in sippy cups, even though the Small Boy has long since been out of them and I also took Fruit Shoots which are nicely sealed so he could pop up and down the lid without help! Phew! Luckily I timed the drink giving well too – as I didn’t want him being dehydrated but equally didn’t want to stop for toilet trips every five minutes!

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Fruit shoots and sippy cups! The stuff of dreams!

4.) Take a bin

I used a plastic bag and opened it up on to the floor of the passengers footwell so I could easily throw unwanted bits and bobs into it. My empties as well as the Small Boys. I find if the car stays semi-organised I feel like I’m more in control.

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The bin to end all bins 🙄

5.) iPad/DVD player with headphones

What did the Mamas of the world do before iPads? It’s a question I often ponder, and not just on long car journeys! Ours is an iPad mounted on to the headrest in-front to avoid any travel sickness from looking down. The headphones are for my own sanity as I’m not sure I can take three hours of Disney Moana songs blaring out at me, as much as I love her. I had the radio on in the front and we were all happy, for the one and a half hour duration of a film anyway!

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iPads + headphones = Happy Small Boy = Happy Mama

6.) iPad/DVD charger!

I remembered the charger, which was helpful as we neared our destination since it was soon to run out of power. Luckily the charger plugged into the car whilst we were driving and charged the iPad at the same time as watching so no time lost there! Phew!

7.) Good Sat Nav

Fortunately  I knew mainly where I was going, but the driving near the end of the journey was, as it can be, a bit stressful.  The Small Boy was getting restless and I was tiring and as wasn’t  quite so sure where we were going at that fiddly last bit – so thank the Lord for Sat Nav!

8.) Stop for coffee and good food

We stopped both on the way down and the way back. I needed a break as much as the Small Boy. Driving a long way on your own is a big enough task, but trying to keep a pre-schooler happy in the process, is really hard. So I stopped and treated myself to a Starbucks and a pat on the back, the Small Boy ran off some steam and it really helped for the next phase.

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9.) Explain the trip a lot

From past experience I have learnt that the Small People really don’t know what’s going on unless you tell them! I know it sounds obvious, but the reason they ask ‘are we nearly there yet’ all the time is because they have no idea about time or distance. I started telling the Small Boy a few days before the trip that it was a REALLY long way, and took lots and lots of time to get there, and it would be very boring, and a very long journey! I did say it’d be fun though as we can stop at a cafe, you can watch the iPad and you can have snacks and drinks and toys in your car seat too. I kept on updating him during the trip how far we had come and how far there was to go and telling him how well he was doing too, it seemed to help him understand a bit more.

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All the fun when you get there finally – stretch those legs!!

10.) Look after yourself too

Don’t forget to consider yourself in all the planning too. Pack your sunglasses, tissues, wipes and water to have at hand for yourself. I ate well when I stopped, had a healthy, hot meal and some fruit, rather than a quick fix coffee and some biscuits, and felt much better for it. It’s perfectly okay to be proud of yourself for making the journey too! It’s a stressful one, so high five yourself for making it solo!

Lucy xx

 

 

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Win a week’s holiday at a 4-star campsite in France for you and your family!

Win a week’s holiday for you and your family

How would you like to win a week’s holiday at a 4-star campsite set in the grounds of an incredible 18th century chateau in the heart of the Vendee, France for you and your family?!

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Votre Vacances

Harrogate Tribe Christmas Night Out

If you come along to our Harrogate Tribe Christmas Night Out (Friday 24th November – save the date – ticket details to follow) you could be in with a chance of just that! The lovely Sarah at Votre Vacances got in touch after hearing about our last Harrogate Tribe event and said she would like to offer a week in one of her gorgeous chalets on the campsite as a raffle prize!

The prize is to be taken in 2018 – which is simply perfect for any cycling enthusiasts as the Tour de France is actually starting from the Vendee next year, making Votre Vacances a prime holiday location. But if you can’t wait that long, scroll down to the end of this post for details of an amazing last minute offer available this year too!

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Lots of spacious pitches

Support the Harrogate Homeless Project

Sarah is a big supporter of the Harrogate Homeless Project (the chosen charity for the Harrogate Tribe Christmas event) and wanted to offer the week’s holiday as a prize after sharing her story of her own elderly grandparents, who often volunteered at the Harrogate Homeless Project, right into their seventies with overnight stays too.

Votre Vacances

Votre Vacances is a family business from Harrogate, with eight chalets at the historic, 4-star Château la Forêt campsite in western France. Everyone knows I love to support local independent businesses on the blog so when I found out I could do that all the way in France too I was over the moon!

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About the Campsite

The campsite is set in a 50 hectare area, set against the backdrop of a stunning chateau. There are two outdoor swimming pools (one can be covered over) and a lake. There’s also an adventure course (zip wire- type activities), a bar, a shop, a takeaway and a restaurant which is set in the courtyard of the chateau. Sounds picture perfect n’est pas?!

 

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Adventure courses over the lake

Holiday A’hoy

As part of our holiday this year to France we’re heading to check out Votre Vacances for ourselves and will be reporting back with a full low down all about it! We can’t wait to discover and enjoy all it has to offer! There sounds like there’s so much to see and do in the surrounding area too! Can’t wait

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Gorgeous grounds

Packed and ready to go

We just have the packing to survive before we head off on our mammoth road trip – so if anyone has any top-tips to share for journeying to France by car with four other humans please let me know!

Road Trip Essentials

The lovely folks at safe.co.uk sent us a little care package to help with the trip, including this fab travel safe (which I would have never thought to take but such a top idea – esp. when camping), an on-the-go mobile charger (bloggers essential) and the Small Boy is thrilled with his neck pillow too! No gin for Mama though 😆, which I feel is the real secret to travelling long distances in confined spaces with the Smalls!😜

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Who knew travel safes were a thing!

They have some proper travelling tips, which surprisingly don’t include gin, over on their #SafeTravels website. 

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I hope if you’re heading away on your hols your packing is coming along nicely! I still have SO MUCH TO DO and do let me know your top survival tips for the road trip please!!

Last Minute Holiday Deal

If you’re looking for a last minute holiday, Votre Vacances has a Last Minute Deal at the end of the Summer Holidays, where you can stay from Sunday 27th August, for 5 nights- for just £465, or 7 nights for £650 and still be home in time for the start of the school year! Email the lovely Sarah at info@votrevacances.com for more details or to get booked in!

Lucy xx

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