We spent our honeymoon travelling through Central America; Guatemala, Belize, Mexico and Cuba. 24 hour hours a day we were in each other’s pockets, covered in the warm blanket of newlywed bliss. We loved to travel and found our groove as a travelling couple.
Once kids come on the scene it can take a while just to find your feet as a new parent.
So how do you find your groove on holiday and ensure the kids don’t take over every minute of the day?
Here’s a list of how you can ensure you get some much needed couple time when you are travelling with your kids.
1. Get a separate room
Book an apartment with a separate bedroom that can be the adults’ retreat. Either a 1 bedroom apartment with beds in the living room or a 2 bedroom apartment with separate bedrooms.
In a hotel, you may be able to get a suite with a separate bedroom or adjoining rooms. Contact the hotel directly to explore the options, some don’t have linking rooms.
2. Use technology
While everybody wants to keep screen time to a minimum sometimes a bit of time in front of the iPad or TV can be a lifesaver for a parent.
Wanting to enjoy a special meal? Once the kids have finished eating, pop a movie on the iPad and enjoy some conversation in peace.
Top tip: If you have more than one child invest in a headphone splitter so they can both watch the same device together.
3. Feed the kids before you go out
Wanting to enjoy a nice meal but worried the kids won’t like anything on the menu? Give them a healthy and filling meal before you go to the restaurant. If you have a toddler who will sleep in a stroller put them to sleep before you head to the restaurant. For older children when you arrive at the restaurant feed them dessert and then set them up with some books, colouring or a movie to watch.
4. Get a room with a balcony
Sometimes booking an apartment or adjoining rooms isn’t in the budget. This is especially the case at a resort or on a cruise. Getting a room with a balcony gives that little bit of extra space. This is great if you have a child that still naps. They can be in the room while you relax together on the balcony. After the kids go down to sleep at night you sit out on the balcony, drink wine, play cards and talk.
5. Use a babysitting service
Use a babysitter. Book through an agency, check reviews online and talk to the agency about their vetting process. If you have friends or family in the area they may also be able to recommend someone. We have used a babysitter in Iceland, we found her on facebook, irresponsible right? Well Iceland is one of the safest countries in the world, and it’s an island, and we checked her references with the Kindergarten she also worked at, the risk was minimal in our opinion. In London we used a babysitting service that came recommended by friends, all the babysitters are vetted with police and reference checks. We spoke to the babysitter over the phone and did our own background checks.
6. Use a kids club
We have had some great vacations where we have used a kids club. Skiing in Austria, the hotel we stayed at (part of the Kinderhotel network which I highly recommend) had a fantastic kids club, the English speaking nannies were caring and engaged. We could ski during the day knowing the children were happy and looked after.
Not all kids clubs are created equal and some have a minimum age of 4 or require kids to be toilet trained. Do your research to find one right for you. They can be an amazing resource for happy kids and happy (relaxed) parents.
7. Utilise guesthouses and boutique accommodation
If the set up is right, in a smaller hotel or guest house the bedroom and dining room or lounging area can be in very close proximity. This means you can settle kids down for the night and then have dinner in peace. Be sure you are close by if the kids wake up and come looking for you and use a baby phone or baby monitor app for further peace of mind. Use your own judgement if this option is safe and suitable. An unfenced pool, for example, would rule this out.
8. Get room service
Have room service sent up when the kids are sleeping, this could be during nap time or in the evening. Have your own bottle of wine already stocked in the minibar to help keep the price down.
9. Make the most of Playtime
In those moments where kids are absorbed in a game or activity don’t waste it checking emails and looking on Facebook. Instead, use that time to catch up with each other and talk, even if it’s just to gush over your beautiful children playing so nicely.
10. Take the Grandparents on holiday
Take a grandparent or other relative with you. It is a great opportunity for the children to bond with the other significant people in their life. Bonus they can also do some babysitting so you can have exclusive couples time.
11. Incorporate the kids into your dates
Sometimes it’s just not possible to get a babysitter while you’re on holiday so try to do some things that you used to do as a couple and incorporate the kids into these activities. If you enjoyed food and wine tours before kids keep doing them now. Done right they can be a lot of fun for the whole family.
12. Reminisce about the past
Talk about your travels and other memories from before you had kids. Involve the kids in these discussions, they will find it fascinating to hear you even had a life before they arrived. It’s also a fun way to reconnect and remember what brought you together in the first place.
13. Read the same book.
This one is a little quirky but it can be a lot of fun. Read the same book, read along at the same pace and have your own mini book club where you can talk about what has unfolded so far. I even know a couple that read to each other! I know, super cheesy but super sweet!
14. When all else fails, sit in the hotel room in the dark, eat chocolate, drink wine and watch Netflix!
Want to learn a bit more about us and how we travel as a family? Check out our interview with Reflections en Route where we took part in their game show “Passports or pass”. How did we do?
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