parent opinion

'I went on holiday with my kids and not my husband. The mental load was less.'

As I dragged three mini suitcases, three backpacks and three already tired kids towards the back of the plane I caught the sympathetic smiles of other passengers.

“Got your hands full there,” they unhelpfully muttered with a smirk while silently thanking the aeroplane gods there were not seated near us, on the already three-hour delayed flight.

“Rather you than me,” said no one, but I could tell that’s exactly what they thought as I one of our many bags smacked into them as I tried to navigate to our seats… solo.

Watch: Horoscopes At The Airport. Story continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

When we booked our Bali flights in the Boxing Day sale nine months prior, I expected to be sipping cocktails by the pool, enjoying daily foot massages and having long relaxing lunches with my husband while the children enjoyed kids' club.

But a lot has happened in the past nine months, mortgage rates keep climbing, cost of living is on the up and before long our holiday fund was non-existent.

We’d put off booking any hotels or activities and were resigned to the fact we would have to cancel as my husband Clint couldn’t take a full two weeks off work.

But with the non-refundable flights already paid for it felt like such a waste.


Which is why, on a whim three days before, I ended up booking the cheapest hotel I could find and going without him, just me and my three boys, Hendry and Jonty, both six, and Stanley, three.

At first I felt empowered, capable, a real-life hero with bravery that knew no limits.

That lasted until shortly after check in when Old Mate dropped us at the airport, the heavens opened and our plane was grounded for three hours.

By the time we boarded, our iPad batteries flat and all the plane snacks gone, I was a mess and fast regretting my decision to be an independent traveller.

But the following day when I woke up in my $50 a night room to breakfast by the pool the journey from hell was soon forgotten.

And now I’m here to encourage it. Full transparency though, while my budget accommodation didn’t have a kids' club or water slide, others across the road did and most let you use the facilities for a small fee or free so I managed to get a few days all for me.

What's more, I actually enjoyed the holiday more without my husband there. Here' are a few reasons why: 

1. Different interests.

I don’t know about you but my husband and I like doing different things on holidays. He loves to dive and I enjoy the spa. He likes to lie by the pool, make friends with randoms and have an afternoon Bintang. I love checking out the boutiques, browsing homeware stores and taking a million photos of beautiful things. The freedom to do what I wanted without having to consider someone else was liberating.

2. Food glorious food.

I don’t really eat breakfast and if I do, it’s not at 7am with the kids but on a family holiday you get sucked into that buffet breakfast situation. I don’t know a husband who doesn’t love a full English in the morning. But without him to consider I packed a box of Weetbix and some long life milk. Then around mid-morning we indulged in some fresh fruit plates and toast that came free with the room. I didn’t need to decide anything. If you know, you know.


Image: Supplied

3. More food.

It was the same at dinner time. Holidays with my husband are often about spending quality time together and we often book some amazing restaurants but that takes research, how far is it from the hotel, what time shall we book, how will we get there? Will I book a babysitter or take all the kids too? You know how I spent my evenings on this holiday? Five minutes on the Grab App and I had a sashimi poke bowl delivered to my door for less than $10. Plenty of kids’ options too.


4. Sleep.

Having all the boys in the room with me I had little choice but to go to bed before 9pm and let me tell you, after a couple of weeks of 10 hours sleep a night, you feel like a new woman.

5. Pre-booking.

I honestly feel I spend more time booking a holiday than I have on the holiday. Searching for deals, reading reviews, planning days out, bookings a babysitter, a driver, ferries, diving, tours, activities. I’m not ungrateful because we have an awesome time, but it was so lovely not to have to do any of that this time.

6. Packing.

Not sure how it goes in your house but in mine, I pack for myself, all the kids, make sure we have outfits for all occasions and spare clothes for the plane. Organise the colouring in, activity books and an emergency first aid kit, medications, sun screens and mozzy spray. I double check the passports and confirm all bookings while Old Mate chucks some shorts and t-shirts into a bag and charges the iPads. I did still have to pack all of the things, but knowing I had to carry everything and knowing we didn’t have anything planned we went super light. One suitcase for four of us and I’m never going back.

7. Mental load.

It’s the mental load for mums. We all know it. The same as at home, it's mostly us who deals with school and day care admin, bookings appointments, dates, restaurants and the babysitters that go with it. The food shop, the meal planning, the cooking and pack lunches. My to-do list is never ending. Sure my husband does his fair share, but the mental load is still on me and to have had that time away without having to make day-to-day decisions was the most relaxing holiday I have ever had.


Image: Supplied

My husband did manage to get a couple of days off work at the end of the trip and he joined us. It was lovely to have him. We headed out to one of the islands, caught the ferry and enjoyed a day at a beach club for his birthday. We even managed to sneak a couples massage in too. Guess who organised it all? Oh, and the flight home? Because he had flown in without us, he wasn’t on our booking so he was sat alone at the front, not close enough to do the multiple toilet trips and snack demands. I’m already planning my next holiday without him.

Feature Image: Supplied

Love watching TV and movies? Take our survey now to go in the running to win a $100 gift voucher.