There’s nothing like planning a holiday with a toddler to make you realise quite how much your life has changed in a small time. But your holiday is still a break from work and normal home life and can be a time the whole family loves - so much so you’ll want to do it over again very soon.
1. Start with realistic expectations.
When you have a toddler, you need to be realistic about your expectations of your holiday. You can still have a wonderful time, filled with fabulous memories of bonding with your family, but your priorities have shifted and it’s important to acknowledge that.
2. Pick a holiday destination that’s easy to get to.
You’ll be amazed at the amount of kids’ clobber you have to take, particularly if you’re off on a beach holiday. Even when equipment is provided at your resort, for hassle-free travel, it makes sense to stick to a UK seaside resort. It’s so much easier than coping with the stress of early morning flights, hire cars and transfer times, not to mention jet lag and your overwhelmed toddler being full of beans at 3am and catatonic by mid-morning for the duration of your holiday. Simple is always best when travelling and holidaying with toddlers.
3. Make the mother list of everything you’ll need, rain or shine.
And find out exactly what’s on offer at your destination. If, for example, your toddler is still drinking milk at bedtime or when waking at night, it can be a monumental pain trying to find your way up and down stairs to a hotel kitchen fridge in the middle of the night. It’s a huge relief when you discover that there are toddler essentials already waiting for you on your arrival.
At Butlin’s seaside resorts, you’ll have access to mini fridges, microwaves, high chairs, bikes and even pushchairs. That only leaves packing favourite toys and comforters, clothes, nappies, inflatable arm bands, sun cream, raincoats… and the list goes on.
4. Stick to a home away from home routine.
Your toddler needs familiar routines to feel safe and happy, so aim to keep home-away-from-home rituals. When your toddler has a tantrum - and they may well on holiday more than at home as a way of trying to articulate feelings of anxiety at differences to their familiar world - try not to raise emotions further by getting stressed yourself. Stick to the same nap times and bedtimes and remember that toddlers are quick to pick up on your own emotional state.
5. Eat right and sleep tight.
Butlin’s restaurants are buffet-style so even the fussiest eaters will find lots to please them among the high quality, healthy family favourites on offer. The restaurants offer children’s plates and cutlery, highchairs, buggy parking and low serving stations to make mealtimes fun and hassle-free - plus a break from cooking for you. Result!
Plus, you’re sure to sleep tight - and nap happy - with accommodation choices to suit every family and budget, including on-resort hotels with spectacular sea views, new apartments and fantastic modern chalets.
6. Pick a holiday with bite-sized (and free!) activities.
One of the joys of taking a holiday with a toddler is the chance to focus on enjoying the little simple pleasures at a slightly slower pace, like splashing around in sup-tropical Splash Waterworld or pottering on the beautiful beaches by Butlin’s Minehead, Skegness and Bognor Regis. Never underestimate the joy for toddlers of messing around in water!
Butlin’s creative drop-in sessions, including Play Doh and Arts and Crafts sessions, mean you can stay for as long or as little as you like - and leave the cleaning up to the friendly and helpful Redcoats - while Little Tikes Town is perfect for young explorers and wannabe racing drivers. At each Butlin’s resort there are indoor soft play areas and outdoor playgrounds, so your toddler can burn off energy.
Butlin’s Just For Tots midweek breaks and Just for Tots Weekend Breaks are designed exclusively for families with children under 5, including early dining times, ‘drop in’ style activity sessions and repeated entertainment schedules to fit in with your toddler’s routine. On these toddler friendly holidays, your little ones will be star-struck at the chance to meet their TV heroes in real life, including Justin Fletcher and Mr Bloom performing live. They’ll also love trying new fun things, like Balanceability on bikes and becoming confident swimmers with Puddle Ducks™. There’s plenty of entertainment included in the price.
7. Remember to relax and enjoy.
Though me-time and attention-hungry toddlers is not a particularly plausible combo, if you choose a resort that helps you maximise quality family time, you’ll all feel more relaxed and you’ll be able to think about yourself a little too! If you’re with a partner, you could plan ahead and take mini shifts like getting a sleep in while the other parent does breakfast for example. But when you look back on your holidays with a toddler, you can bet the moments you’ll cherish won’t be when you got to read that instantly forgettable book. What you’ll remember are when you were all paddling around in the shallow end of the holiday pool. Go with the flow, relax and enjoy your time together.