Posted in Holiday Happiness

Travelling as a Single Parent With One Child

Travelling as a single parent with one child wasn’t something I thought I would ever do. It was a decision I was faced with after I split up with my sons dad when he was just 18 months old. As an Aquarius I’ve always had that needing for adventure and excitement and as daunting as it was I wasn’t about to let the fact I was a single parent stop me.

Single parent  travelling
Paphos when my son was younger

Over the years my son and I have taken many holidays just the two of us and whilst I have a grateful heart and lots of memories it has come with challenges along the way…

Packing…

This has got easier now he’s older but travelling alone with a writhing toddler, full size suitcase and pram is not fun. But you need so much stuff! I will never forget the time I went to Orlando and shopped way too much… I had to wear wedges to the airport as they wouldn’t fit in my case. My son was just 3yrs old, I also had two full size cases on this occasion plus the pram and a wild toddler. This still unsurprisingly wins my most hellish journey to date. I would not recommend wedges and a toddler full stop, let alone in an airport. Packing light is the answer… these days hand luggage only and a small back pack each win the day. It also helps that he can now manoeuvre his own luggage.

You are the only set of eyes

I guess this is not too dissimilar to at home only throw in anything water related and you are on pins… you are the only set of eyes on him. This has got easier as he’s got older and can swim well but none the less I still can’t fully relax without constantly looking up to check on him. When he was little it was even harder. Want a drink? toilet? This involves battling a wet squirming tantruming toddler out the pool to go with you. Aside from this you have the whole leaving your stuff unattended drama or face loosing your sunbed.

Night times are lonely

When he was little I sat in the kiddy disco on my own with a glass of red watching him join in. I always felt really self conscious and definitely lonely. It was hard sitting around the seemingly other perfect happy families and often I would have a little cry back at the room once my son was in bed. Fast forward to him being older and discos are not his thing. We now get to go wander out and choose somewhere to eat but hanging around after food is not his thing either… once the meals done he’s bored. We end up back in the room relatively early whilst he uses the Wi-Fi to watch some crap YouTuber and I read my book.

I am his entertainment

He’s lonely… I watch other siblings play together in the pool. Chasing each other in and out the sea, they will forever have each other. I watch dads energetically entertain their children with slight envy. I’m his only friend… so you know what that means? I don’t get a minute. He needs me to play and entertain him and I do. Whilst he was small and could jump into the pool and into my arms it was fun, I would chase him round being a shark. But it’s not the same now he’s older… try as I might he calls me boring.

He’s desperate to make friends

Okay so maybe is more due to the fact he’s an only child… but he lingers round other kids desperate to make friends. Talk about pulling on my heart strings. Sometimes he does make a friend and my moaning for 10 minutes on the sunbed soon turns into begging him to spend 10 minutes with me. I can’t win. I’m either at his becon call or he would sooner spend time with some kid he has just met.

Hotel is everything

Get the hotel wrong and your in trouble. My days of wanting to go to a resort where kids entertainment are bouncing round the pool like they’ve drank 10 cans of red bull are long gone. I don’t want to be cohurst into doing water aerobics with 15 people I don’t know who probably don’t exercise all year! No offence. I’m all about the joining in and making the most of it… but that’s not my idea of fun so now my sons older I avoid such resorts. But it’s a fine line… finding a hotel that ticks boxes for him and me is tricky.

Excursions

Booking excursions is a great thing to break up your holiday. But not always so simple when you are the loan parent. Take recently on a trip to Italy… we booked an excursion to see Stromboli volcano afternoon into evening as we wanted to see the eruptions at night. But I soon realised this would entail us walking back from the port on our own at 11pm at night in the pitch black. Suffice to say we switched to a day one. These are the kind of things you have to consider when holidaying as a single parent… is what your doing safe?

But let’s look at it another way…

He’s my travel buddy

My son, my friend… maybe not forever but I’m grateful of somebody to go travelling with. Just the two of us get to decide on destinations and that’s exciting, we’ve been to some amazing places.

Mature beyond his years

Travelling just the two of us means he’s had to step up and be there for me. Whilst I try to remain the adult I have to confess I do lean on him at times. My son has an outstanding sense of direction and is very mature beyond his years in navigating us around new places, using public transport and communicating with people with an air of confidence I find inspiring. This comes from travelling so much from a young age, these skills will no doubt aid him later in life. I also won’t be worried when he leaves the country (okay maybe a little bit still!)

I can afford more

The cost of taking only one child is less and this has influenced luxury holiday choices. I also can’t actually remember the last time we went away only once in a year. Yep we share so many magical holiday memories that we will both forever treasure.

Conclusion…

Life may not always be the journey we planned but never let that stop you doing what you want to do. Going away as a single parent was daunting initially, hard work at times but it’s oh so worth it. We’ve made memories that will last a lifetime.

Travelling with my son
More recently in Italy

If your reading this and your yet to make that leap of travelling alone with your child, just go for it. Go explore, discover and try new things. You get 18 years if your lucky before they won’t want to go away with you anymore… make the most of them.

Rachael 🙂 x

Posted in Holiday Happiness

20 Reasons You Should Book a Disney Cruise


Here I share 20 reasons why you should book a Disney cruise but really there are too many to truly mention… I mean anything Disney is always a good idea! In 2015 I was lucky enough to go on a Disney cruise. It was some time ago now but it is still embedded in my mind as one of my best trips ever. Disney cruise ships really are something special.

Disney Cruise Line We cruised on the Disney Fantasy for a week around the western Caribbean; stopping off in Grand Cayman, Jamaica, Cozumel and Disney’s private island in the Bahamas – Castaway Cay. This is based on my experience on the Fantasy but I hear all the ships are out of this world.

1. You Will Feel Like Royalty on a Disney Cruise

From the moment you get on the ship you are treated like royalty. Waltzing down the red carpet to board whilst they announce you by name to a round of applause may not be everyone’s cup of tea but lets just say you definitely feel special. Your waiters get to know you and your preferences personally as they rotate restaurants with you each night. Your stateroom host quickly learns your names and greets you with a smile always asking if there is any more they can do for you.

2. The Interior is a Work of Art

I don’t even know where to start here but the attention to detail on a Disney cruise is something else. Right from when you step into the ship’s stunning three-story atrium, decked in regal shades of gold and blue with fine details adorning every element inside your know no expense has been spared. It’s an entrance one might expect in a grand hotel… as a first time cruiser I was in awe. From the intricate mosaics around the ship, the themed restaurants, to the beautiful theatre. There is too much to mention… its simply grand and exquisite through out.

Disney Cruise Interior

3. Door Decorating Fun

Yes this is a thing! Be sure to decorate your stateroom door Disney style. I read this before going so I was prepared. Disney don’t like you to use tape so be sure to use magnets, the doors are metal. You can make life easy by purchasing pre made designs on Etsy (just search Disney cruise door magnets) but I’ve always loved crafting so I had a go myself. It’s fun to explore the ship and look at all the designs.

4. Magic Portholes

So we had an interior stateroom but it was suffice. I mean are you really going to sit in your room on a Disney Cruise? It was a little tricky getting ready some nights with a hyperactive 7 year old though ha ha! I must mention here the magic porthole… a “window” to the world with a real-time view outside the ship. But that’s not all… Disney characters appear in the porthole too! Yes you might just see Tinkerbell fly across… I was freaking out spotting them all. Well done Disney, a great addition for those who can’t stretch the budget to an outside cabin ha ha! I would totally book an interior room again.

Disney Cruise Stateroom

5. Delicious Dining Experiences

Ohhh the restaurants… guests have many options to choose from when it comes to dining. You are given a dining rotation and depending on the length of your cruise you may visit some restaurants more than once. You can opt out on some nights like we did if you would prefer a more casual affair like Cabanas. It was nice to have a break from dressing for dinner plus whilst all the guests were dining we enjoyed numerous goes on the aquaduck without queuing. All the restaurants were amazing, not just the food but the decor too. None were quite as delightful as Animators palate though – you get to draw your own character and watch in delight as it comes alive as part of the show.

Disney Cruise Dining

6. Adult Only Dining

If you want to experience fine dining (I should say even finer dining really) head to one of the adult only restaurants – Palo or Remy. We dined in Palo on our last night and the food was divine… the service again was impeccable. The waiter was very patient explaining things on the menu to us. The setting was very serene and had we of made a reservation prior to getting on the cruise we could have enjoyed a view of the sunset out of the wall of windows (book in advance!) but none the less I fully recommend it anyway.

7. Deck 11 For Sun & Fun

I have to confess I had a slight love hate relationship with deck 11, ha ha! It’s mayhem for parents, heaven for kids! This is where to pool is, the aqua duck (water coaster) can be ridden, back to back Disney movies play on a huge screen. Little ones can splash about in Nemo’s reef and you can if your kid will let you… try and relax on the sunbeds. Also it is home to some of the more fast food options you may want in the day available from the likes of Flo’s cafe and Luigi’s pizza. Deck 11 is super fun but a few hours and you need some headspace! The aqua duck is awesome… be sure to ride it in the dark too as it is all lit up!

Disney Cruise Deck 11

8. Characters Galore on a Disney Cruise!

Love your Disney characters? (of course you do!) well I think I interacted more with characters on the cruise than I ever have. You never know when you might bump into them… which is super exciting! also there are plenty of opportunities for character meet and greets. My son met stitch his all time favourite on pirate night, he was so playful and funny, he still talks about it now. I was over the moon to have my photo with Mickey in his captains outfit too!

9. Pirate Night & Fireworks

Who doesn’t want to dress as a pirate really?! Well if you don’t you will stand out! Bandannas were even provided in our stateroom to wear for the occasion. We had taken our own costumes anyway as I am not one to miss out on a dressing up opportunity. As well as pirate themed dining that night there was a stage show where all your favourite Disney characters perform in a ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ production. Not forgetting the spectacular fireworks as well! Followed by dancing the night away as a DJ blasted popular dance songs. Pirate night was a blast!

Disney Cruise Pirate Night

10. Disney Merchandise

Be sure to check out the Disney merchandise whilst on the ship… they are pros at making you get rid of your money and the cruise is no exception. Official cruise line clothes, souvenirs, pins, plush toys and more are on display in the stores. I bought a few things to remind me of my trip (yeah like I will ever forget!)

11. West End Worthy Shows

Disney doesn’t mess about when it comes to entertainment we all know that… It’s what Disney does best! But oh my gosh the shows… I LOVED Disney wishes… its encompasses everything Disney is about growing up but staying connected with your inner child. We also saw Aladdin and Disney dreams which were both fantastic.

Disney Cruise Stage Shows

12. You Can Chill Out

You may be reading all this thinking I don’t know if it’s too much! But fear not… you can escape the mayhem on the adults only deck and it was like a sun trap. I soaked up the rays with a cocktail whilst looking at the ocean. When I was too hot I took a dip in the Quiet Cove pool – pure bliss! where are the kids (if you have them) at this point? In kids club of course. Just to mention as well I met loads of adults on the cruise with no kids too!

13. Kids Club Heaven

I don’t think I have ever wished I was still a kid as much as when I clapped eyes on the Oceaneer club and lab aboard the Fantasy . I swear you will never get your child in a kids club on holiday again after experiencing this… it’s in a league of its own. Children 3-12yrs can immerse in a multi themed activity centre – there’s Andy’s Room, Pixie Hollow and Monsters Academy to name a few. A light up dance floor, computers, reading areas, televisions, video games, dressing up, a sound studio to create music, a craft area… the list goes on. Your favourite characters might just make an appearance too. Got a baby or a teen no problem… no one is left out on a Disney cruise, they cater for all.

Disney Cruise Oceaneer Club and Lab

14. Indulge in Pin Trading

If your a pin trading fan then you will be pleased to know this is a thing on the cruise to. For those who are unfamiliar with pin trading is buying, selling and trading collectable Disney pins that can be worn on a lanyard. You can trade pins with cast members (which is super fun) as well as other guests. On the last night of your cruise as well a pin trading event is held where you might just find some rare pins so be sure to check that out. Oh and pin trading is totally for adults as well as kids! I literally had as much fun as my son.

15. Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique

Yes the royal salon where young guests can be magically transformed into princesses or knights is aboard the cruise too. You hear about the princess make overs lots but not as much the ones for boys. My son was seven at the time and loved the experience. They gelled his hair and put little silver Mickey confetti in it, he was given a sword and shield and declared a knight… we proceeded to then do the ships treasure hunt. This is where you look for clues around the ship (you realise its enormity at this point) and it’s simply magical… you will need a few hours but it’s good exercise and fun!

Disney Cruise Bibbidi Bobbdi Boutique

16. Rejuvenate in Senses Spa

I indulged in a massage and facial at the spa despite it being pretty pricey and it was worth every penny. I didn’t pre book this as the whole holiday was getting ridiculously expensive (did I tell you prior to this cruise I spent a week in Disney too?!) but as luck would have it they do offers once you are on the ship so that twisted my arm (like it was hard!) and I’m glad I treated myself. My advice would definitely wait till your onboard to book this… I can’t remember the price but it was quite a bit cheaper.

17. Visiting Castaway Cay

This deserves a post of its own really but Disney’s private island Castaway Cay is really something special. A tropical paradise in the Bahamas where the fun really doesn’t stop! Pristine beaches to soak up the rays, incredible snorkelling, slides in the sea, delicious barbecue food, bike rentals… just to name a few! You are not going to be bored on this island. Sadly a day there just didn’t feel enough but what an experience.

Disney Cruise Castaway Cay

18. Themed Sailings

Now I can only properly comment on the Halloween themed sailing really as that is what I was on. But if that is anything to go by then taking a Disney cruise over Thanksgiving, Christmas time and New Years Eve should only add to the experience. Halloween on the Fantasy was great, everyone dressed up, the ship was decked out – including the pumpkin tree and even the characters dressed up for Mickey’s Mouse-querade party. Who else can say they been in a dance freestyle circle with Goofy?!

19. Exciting Shore Excursions

If you do decide to get off the ship you can indulge in some shore excursions. Disney makes this super easy for you. You can browse the itineraries before you go and add them to your never ending bill ha ha! You could indeed arrange your own but I like the guarantee that I am not going to miss the boat (honestly my anxiety couldn’t take it!) My experience of shore excursions was unforgettable. In Grand Cayman we swam with sting rays (my son bailed much to my dismay) Jamaica we headed up Dunn River Falls, Mystic mountain and even on a bobsleigh tour (Cool Running’s eat your heart out!) In Cozumel we went on a submarine. Shore excursions enhance your visit when you dock so check out if any take your fancy but don’t be surprised if you struggle to choose!

Disney Cruise Jamaica

20. It’s the Holiday of a Lifetime

I hope you are reading this and have already drawn this conclusion… this is one trip you will never forget. Disney always provides ultimate in entertainment and the cruises are no exception. Word of warning though… you will come back slightly exhausted from the non stop fun and excitement but it was oh so worth it.

Disney Cruise Memories

Have you been on a Disney cruise? I would love to hear anything you would add to this list?

Oh yeah and guys… due to writing this blog post I’m now looking to book another Disney Cruise next year. I am dying to make some more magical memories with Mickey and friends on the high seas. Watch this space!

Rachael 🙂 x

Here’s the link if I have convinced you to take a look – https://disneycruise.disney.go.com

Posted in Winning at Parenting

Redundant Parenting…

I’m having a real hard time with my son growing up (he’s 10 going on 16!) You obviously know that it’s going to happen but you don’t really notice it happening until one day it hits you. Being a single mum I’ve just been so busy trying to juggle everything alone. But when I do stop and think about our journey together tears come to my eyes. For we have had the most fun times. Some would say he’s been spoilt as I mention in a previous post. Yes he has with days out, experiences and holidays. But amongst all the stress and hard work of being a parent I believe these moments are the little rewards. Quality time together making memories.

I couldn’t wait for the summer holidays… I got my diary and pen and set to making lots of plans for us. I joined the National Trust as well for some outdoor time in some beautiful spots close to us. We were going on holiday to Cyprus too which I couldn’t wait for. Amongst this I planned a trip to the zoo, cinema and other things.

When I excitedly produced my diary and shared my plans they were met with face pulling and ‘I don’t want to do that’. Well ‘what do you want to do son?’ ‘I just want to hang out with my mates’ and just like that I was binned… on the occasions I dragged him out I put up with constant asking ‘what time we going back?’ I felt I had lost my little friend. He even told me I should have another baby!!

On holiday he made new friends (which was lovely to see) but in turn I was left a bit bored and alone. It’s funny because there were days when I prayed to read a book in peace for longer than five minutes on a sun-bed! At meal times he often finished before me and raced back to his new friends excitedly leaving me nursing a glass of red alone, ha ha! He did come and find me to sign for whatever he was ordering for him and sometimes his friends at our hotel of course…

I spent a few days getting all emotional reminiscing about days gone by… asking myself where time had gone? As a parent each stage so far has been different and come with its own challenges but I realise now how special those younger years were. I shouldn’t say it but they were my favourite. The years when you are literally their world, everything is new, magical and exciting to them. Probably from age two to maybe five.

So in my emotional state I wrote a poem for my son… really just to try and express my own feelings at a time when I’m feeling rather redundant. I thought I would share it here too as maybe some others can relate?

It’s back to school soon for you son

I will miss our summer fun

Your growing up so fast

It’s plain to see

That you don’t want to hang out with silly old me

I wish for the days when we played in the sand

When you skipped along holding my hand

The hours in the farm and picnic by the swings

These are now by gone things

For at the time I never knew that one day you would feel too grown up for the zoo

Our adventures have changed and my heart is heavy

As I watch you grow and I don’t feel ready

I try to persuade you to do things with me but you would rather have friends over for tea

But now and then I see a glimpse of that boy, the one who used to play with toys

You think I am boring but I’m doing my best

To be your friend still, you put me to the test

We’ll soon be heading into the teenage years

which no doubt will cause me further tears

I will treasure our memories all the way through

For every stage is a blessing with you. So, don’t push me away, your silly old mum

I only want to have some fun

For one day you will realise that really it’s me.. the best friend you will ever have – you’ll see 💞 x

Rachael x

Posted in Winning at Parenting

Don’t dash your child’s dreams…

Times have changed… of course they are bound to… the world is evolving. Technology is constantly propelling us forward. People are no longer just happy and accept what they have, everyone is striving for more – me included. The world isn’t such a big place anymore. Opportunities are plentiful. People often say my son Lex doesn’t know he’s born.

Both I and his dad (although not together) have made sure he’s missed out on nothing. The kids well-travelled in general (He’s on a two-week road trip around America with his dad as I type this!) he’s been to Disneyland several times, Lapland, had big birthday parties, fabulous Christmases, days out most weekends. I like to think he’s not spoiled in general but is he spoiled in experiences? – probably. But who wouldn’t do that for their child if they have the means to?

I have come under fire from parents and friends at times for the sheer amount of things I do with him. His expectations are high… I know I’ve created this. But I’ve also created a kid with drive, ambitions and goals. Sometimes I do wonder have I set him up to fail? He thinks he’s going to live in a mansion in Hawaii (inspired by his favourite movie Lilo and Stitch) drive a Lamborghini and be a youTuber. They are pretty big aspirations to have. But who am I to dash his dreams?

I myself am I dreamer, a go getter, however my plans at his age were somewhat smaller. All I wanted to do was teach dance, have a dance school. Did I achieve that? Yes I did and my parents supported me. Had they not supported me would I have achieved my dream? Probably not. I’m grateful to them for this. I am grateful they didn’t undermine my dream and try to pigeon-hole me into another career. As a parent now I want to give my son the same liberty.

I am proud of my son and how he doesn’t see any limitations but I will also do what I can to make sure he passes his exams – the safety net. Do I want him to have a conventional career? If that’s what he wants, absolutely, but so far he doesn’t. I am pleased he wants more for himself.  I am pleased I have created a situation where he believes he can achieve so much. I am his biggest cheerleader and I will support him however I can to achieve his dreams no matter what they are.

Remember children are always watching you. You are their superheroes. Vision, success and wealth anyone can achieve. If a child grows up in a successful family that will become their standard. You are setting the standard. If you bring them up in a love filled, happy, optimistic, positive home that to will be their general outlook. They won’t believe the world is against them. But if you’re all ‘poor me’ with a negative vibe they will pick up on this too. My son (whist he has his moments) is positive and happy because that’s how I believe our home is.

Some would say I’m setting him up to fail by letting him believe there are no limitations… But I believe I’m setting him up to succeed. With my support the world is his oyster. I want him to wake up every day with a smile. I want him to have a zest for life, love the world he’s in and be happy with the choices he’s made. I don’t want him to ever look back and think my mum didn’t believe in me. Cos I do son… I’m not saying it will be easy but I will always be by your side. Go chase your dreams…