How to Have a Stress-Free Christmas Holiday as a Single Parent
As a single parent, you don’t need to be told that Christmas is a tough season to experience. It is an emotional roller coaster even when every family member is trying to make the best of a difficult situation. But you don’t have to lose your sanity to survive Christmas as a single parent. Many single parents love the idea of going away over the festive period. It takes their mind off the fact that the special someone is missing in their lives – a partner to spend the holidays with and enjoy the smiles on their kids’ faces as they open their presents. But as much as getting away at Christmas can be a welcome escape, the thought of travelling alone with children during one of the busiest times of the year might also be intimidating. Nevertheless, as long as you are well-prepared and stay in the right frame of mind, travelling at Christmas alone with children can be a positive experience. So, without further ado, here’s a single parent’s guide to staying sane when travelling at Christmas:
Get Permission from the Other Parent
If you are flying solo with the kids at Christmas or indeed at any time, then the legal issues can get a bit sticky. To avoid issues at passport control, it is important to get permission from the other parent, notifying the authorities that you are taking your children abroad. This is something you must do whether you are married, separated or divorced and whether you share the same surname as your kids or not. The only exception is where you have a child arrangement order from a court, which allows you to travel abroad for up to 28 days. If there is any confusion at the airport or borders, having the right paperwork on you will save you a great deal of hassle and possibly missing your flight. It is not unusual for airlines to stop you from checking in without the correct documents. Even if you haven’t had any issues in the past, beware that both airlines and passport control are becoming very strict and passports, birth certificates and divorce certificate alone are often not enough.
Book Your Seats Ahead of Time
There is nothing more frustrating to board your flight only to be told that you can’t sit together. Sure, the flight attendants may eventually arrange it so that you are all together but it can end up being rather annoying for everyone involved. Try to handle this first when booking the tickets. Also keep in mind that many airlines will charge you extra for seat allocation. So, if you are trying to save money, this may not be a priority. It will, however, cut down on the stress of getting your kids into their seats and might just help you stay sane.
Handle Everything Online
The check-in counter at the airport is what single parent nightmares are made of. So, it stands to reason that avoiding this at all costs should be a priority. This can be managed by checking in online – if this service is applicable to the airline you are flying. You can then check in up to 24 hours before your flight and print out your boarding passes. Then, you and your kids will not be expected to show up at the airport quite as early making your travel at Christmas less stressful.
This is a useful tip when packing your kids’ suitcases as well as when you are travelling with them. The first thing you should do is to pack highly visible clothes. The more they stand out, the better. This way, you will be able to tell where your kids are with a single glance. In case they don’t have many of these items, go shopping for fluorescent hats or vests that they can wear while you are out and about.
For the actual flight – brightly coloured pyjamas are the way to go. First off, they are noticeable, even if your kids decide to do a runner. Secondly, they are comfortable and you don’t have to worry about changing your little one if they do (hopefully) decide to take a nap.
Take Further Safety Precautions
As a single parent, your natural state would be worry, and this is only amplified when you are travelling. After all, it can often seem like danger is lurking behind every corner. Fortunately, there are a number of remedies for this. If your kids are too young to memorise names, phone numbers, or hotel addresses, ID bands will be a good substitute. You can note down important contact information on these so that a Good Samaritan will know how to reach you.
Hanging a whistle around their neck can also alert you to your little one’s location, should you get separated. Another safety tip to remember is to take photographs. Take a picture of your child every day, once they have been dressed. Make sure it is clear and visible. This way, you will have something to show people if your children get separated.
Bring Lots of Activities
Somehow, when you are travelling, your kids’ energy levels seem to reach improbable heights. This can wear down even the calmest of people. To prevent getting angry with your children and to help you stay sane, it is best to provide as much entertainment as you can. Single parent ski holidays are a great way to tire the kids out and keep them entertained. You can ski with the adults in the group whilst the children are at ski school. It’s a win win all around. If single parent activity holidays are not your thing, then make sure to take colouring books, puzzles, games, and anything else that you can think of will come in handy for the daytime and evenings. Provide a small knapsack for each child where they can easily carry and access their goodies during the journey, on trips, or at the beach. Snacks, as you can imagine, will also be a welcome distraction.
Give Yourself a Break – Take the Easy Route
You probably have a few rules when it comes to screen time and technology. Well, you are only human, so it is fine to bend these rules a bit since your kids will be cooped up in one place for a long time. To avoid any future tantrums, make certain they understand that this is a special occasion.
Then, load up the tablets, computers, or similar devices with games and movies. If you are lucky, this should stop even the most grievous of arguments or crying jags in their tracks. At the very least, the other passengers on your flight will be thankful for it.
Last but not least, you will need to be prepared for anything your kids or the universe might throw at you. This is particularly vital if you are travelling to an area where you don’t speak the language and may not be certain of what you will require. So, stock up on medication that your kids might need. If you are packing liquids, ensure that you are following airport security restrictions. Bandages, colourful plasters, and ointments are a good idea as well. You will also need to arm yourself with insect repellent and sprays that can help relieve bug bites if you decide to travel somewhere hot this Christmas. Make sure these products are safe for children.
There is no denying that there are bound to be a few tears and tantrums while travelling – some of these may even come from you. However, just remember to keep a cool head and to be as patient as possible with your kids when you travel with them this Christmas. This is all anyone can ask of you. Also, try to have fun, as this is what your children will remember most about the trip.