My husband Jules is currently on a two-week surfing holiday with nine other blokes. He Skypes us most days and I am getting a lot of What’s App photos depicting vast stretches of blue water and the fish he has caught and eaten. In the meantime, I am at home with our two boys Toby, aged seven and Leo, 16 months, and thanks to the help of my mum we are all managing pretty well.
I say ‘pretty well’ because of course, we miss him and his excellent fatherly and husbandly skills, but he deserved the break and it is good to have some time apart.
Since Toby came along in 2010, we have been big proponents of the solo holiday or short break from family time. There are so many benefits when one parent gets a vacay, not least of all that the person in question comes back feeling refreshed and ready to parent up a storm.
As the current non-holidaying parent, I can confirm that it is not all slog being left behind either. In fact, I have noticed quite a few advantages to having a break in our normal family routine…
1. Our big comfy bed – all to myself.
We both love our king size bed and squidgy mattress, so when we leave it behind to go away, nothing can come close to its extravagant comfort. With Jules overseas, I get to roll around in it freely, starfish and sleep diagonally. I don’t of course because I am conditioned to sleep on my side of the bed, but I could if I wanted to.
2. Eating low-key dinners.
I feed the kids early with some family staples that mostly revolve around spaghetti Bolognese or pumpkin soup. Sometimes I eat with them, sometimes I do not. With my gourmand husband away, I can please myself with the lamest, non-dinner-dinners out there. Beans on toast, a giant schnitzel, pie and peas, a cheese board; all of these yummy-slummy low-key options mean less washing up, less preparation time and a satisfied belly.
3. More time with Toby.
As in every relationship, Jules and I have our individual strengths that mean we do more of certain chores or activities than the other. Jules is great at sport and outdoor play, so at weekends he might take Toby for a kick of soccer or go for a bike ride while I take Leo to the park or to meet a friend. With Jules away, it means I have had to step up and partake in the outdoor active fun that I wouldn’t automatically choose. Toby and I have played handball, kicked a soccer ball around and been to the beach. I have enjoyed just hanging out with him more than usual, which has (mostly) been a lovely treat.
4. Watching what I want on Netflix.
The Crown! Alias Grace! Grease 2! 27 Dresses! So many great shows, documentaries and movies (except 27 Dresses – there’s two hours of my life I won’t get back), that I would normally have to barter hard for but currently don’t have to. I can also happily munch my cheese and biscuit type dinners on the sofa and I don’t even have to share the brie.
5. Seeing my husband happy.
He’s not had the best year and it is genuinely lovely to see him (via a slightly pixelated What’s App connection) looking tanned, relaxed and happy doing something that he loves. He works hard and we love him to bits and life is too short to not book in fun things to please oneself along the way. This is a once-in-a-blue-moon indulgent surf trip that will hopefully fill his soul up for years to come.
6. I will maximise my limited run as ‘Wife of the Year’ and ensure I get some me-time.
I have already locked in a few girls-only activities with friends and family in the next few months and I am taking Toby to the UK for two weeks in August. Not quite the same as solo chill-axing on the beach, but seeing friends and family without little Leo in tow will be a pleasure. I’ll get more time with Toby, while Jules can enjoy one-on-one daddy and toddler fun.
At almost 15 years married, and eight years as parents, this busy period of life is all too often about work, scheduling and logistics. The ‘who-fed-the-cat-put-the-bins-out-signed-the-school-permission-slip-paid-the-gas-bill-got-the-nappies’ period. Jules and I both agreed that to survive and thrive through this time, we also need a little space to remember who we are and what we love - as individuals.
I look forward to future family vacations, but at this stage, the solo or ‘divide and conquer’ holiday scenario works well for us. Someone truly has time-off and the rest of us get a break from the routine.
With just a few days until Jules comes home, we are all excited for his return. I have enjoyed the benefits of time apart and I now can’t wait to have him back with us, even if it does mean no more cheese and biscuit dinners and extra washing up.
Have you ever gone on a solo-holiday? What was it like? Tell us in the comments section below.