I've been away with my son on my own plenty of times before, and it has always been ace. (Mainly. Apart from the time I chronicled here when he wanted to lie on the sofa exercising his thumbs on his DS for a week, whilst I wanted to go walking on the beach in the rain...) It has also always been to a cottage we know inside out, in a seaside location we know every square inch of. And it has always just been the two of us.
This summer holiday, things were different. It wasn't quite just the two of us, as we had our puppy along, and we were staying somewhere completely new. And blimey, does that make a difference.
We had a lovely time, we really did. We were in Cornwall and it was a marvellous adventure for us both. But it was also relentless and extremely hard work.
I hadn't thought about things like what to do on the beach when you want to paddle/swim when there are only two of you. Because usually we don't go to a beach that's sandy and where the sea is inviting and full of other people having fun.
I hadn't thought about what to do in the evenings once my son had gone to bed and there is no other adult to talk to (I know lots of locals where we usually holiday, and can always find a child-friendly pub to while away the evenings in).
And I hadn't really thought through how restrictive it would be finding places to eat and visit that were both suitable for children AND dogs.
I also hadn't bargained for how the good people of Cornwall would stare at me when I lost it outside a gift-shop when my son said he couldn't hold the puppy for two minutes whilst I dashed in to get a much promised stick of rock for someone back home. (The absolute low point of the holiday. That stick of rock caused SO much trouble. Who knew that seaside locations do not routinely sell rock any more? Who knew I would end up walking THREE MILES with a complaining child and a whining dog to find one? Who knew I would then have child, dog, and eventually mummy throwing a tantrum in the street over it?). If I ever see a stick of rock again...
I've often said that when you're a mum or dad, holidays are generally just lovely trips for the kids: for the grown ups it is quite simply just parenting in a different location, made bearable only by local wine and sunshine. Our holiday had neither local wine or much sunshine.
I really think I need to have a plan in place for future holidays, and preferably one that involves taking other people along with me. I came home from this break in desperate need of another holiday - which was not helped at all by the fact that my son's dad then went off on HIS hols on his own (well, with his girlfriend).
I would love to hear other single parents' tips for going away on your own with kids (and dogs!) - from practical to actual destination recommendations, because, if nothing else, I really need to know how you manage to take a dip in the sea whilst ensuring all your stuff is safe back on the beach, and your offspring really is waving and not drowning . And of course how you manage to grab two minutes to yourself - even if it is only to run into a shop to buy a poxy stick of rock...