With the peak holiday season almost upon us, it's time to take the children on that holiday you planned all those months ago.
We all have good intentions that the holiday is going to be just as much fun as it was when we were single and child-free, if a different sort of fun. However, now the time has actually arrived for you to pack all the suitcases, entertain the kids on the plane journey and worry about what they're going to eat when you arrive, here are my top tips for having the perfect stress-free family holiday.
Don't venture too far
You might have enjoyed those flights to far flung destinations pre-children, when you could spend eight hours engrossed in a book or watching the latest film, while sipping a cool glass of wine. However, long flights aren't always the ideal starting point when it comes to holidays with the children. If this is your first trip abroad perhaps limit your destination to a four-hour flight. By the time they've enjoyed the fun of taking off, and had some food and drink, it'll almost be time to land.
Plan your accommodation
Holiday villas off the beaten track are ideal when you want a week of relaxation by the pool, but with children to entertain during the day they're probably not the best choice. There are some great family resorts these days, with children's entertainment all day and fantastic pools. However, if you prefer something a bit quieter, then choose accommodation close to amenities, such as the beach, shops and a wide choice of restaurants. It'll be much easier to keep the children happy if they don't have to walk miles to the beach or spend time cooped up in a stuffy car.
Go with recommendations
Have a discussion amongst your friends and family as to good family-based resorts they would recommend. It's always good to have some sort of idea what to expect when you get there regarding accommodation, restaurants, proximity to the beach, and so on.
Don't be too adventurous
I'm all for trying new food on holiday and sampling the local cuisines. However, children aren't always so eager to try something new, so it's probably best to check out resorts that cater in some way for British tourists. At least then you should be able to find something for even the fussiest of eaters.
Check what's included
Many hotels and apartments cater well for families on holiday and provide many of the essential items you need - sometimes included in the price or for an additional cost. Travel cots and high chairs are usually provided within your accommodation and some travel companies will even allow you to hire pushchairs etc for your stay.
Baby and toddler essentials
Most resorts will have a local store selling your essential baby and toddler items, including powdered milk, nappies and baby food. However, they won't necessarily have the brands you're familiar with, so be prepared to try something different. Maybe do some internet research before you fly to see what products people recommend or what's the nearest to your usual brand. If your child is particularly fussy or has any special requirements, maybe think about taking some supplies with you, but just make sure you check out any restrictions on food etc with your airline.
Pack for the journey
Before you travel, buy some new travel toys or activities for the children and bring them out at different points in the journey. A new colouring book or game will keep them entertained and once they get bored just bring out the next item. Break up the journey with some of their favourite snacks as well and have your own mini picnic mid-air.
Adapt your routine
Holidays are meant to be fun and a bit of an adventure for the children. Part of the fun for them is being out of their usual routine - playing on the beach or by the pool and staying up late. Most children are able to adapt to their change of situation, but there's no point in putting yourself under stress by trying to keep them to their usual meal and bedtimes. Children won't be able to settle while it's still hot and other children are outside playing, so let them enjoy themselves and hopefully it'll mean they won't wake too early.
Wherever you're travelling to this year, enjoy yourself and make it a family holiday to remember.