One of the odd things about single parenting is how easy it is to forget your loser status. It’s actually pretty normal to see kids with one parent – at school, at birthday parties, on play dates.
Holidays, though, are a bit different.
Single parents almost always pay more for holidays than their married chums, and when you arrive, you’re almost always the ONLY single parent in sight. This makes you vulnerable to well-meaning old people, who will invite you to sit with them at mealtimes, when you’d really rather be reading your copy of Vampire Diaries (don’t judge, I know you’ve all done the crap book thing on holiday).
Then there’s the fact that the only person having an actual holiday is your offspring – you’re just shattered from being on duty 24×7, and being responsible for everything from driving the hire car to putting up the travel cot.
If any of this sounds even remotely familiar, I’d suggest checking out Keycamp, who kindly invited us to take a holiday with them this half-term.
The company offers discounts to single parents, and has sites all over Europe. If you don’t have a destination in mind, I have to say their staff were brilliant at taking my pathetically vague, “Erm, can we go somewhere really near a beach where I don’t have to drive, and with a great pool please?” and coming up with the perfect location – St Jean de Monts in the Vendee region of France.
We arrived at the Clarys Plage resort on a hot, sticky Friday morning to find a really laid-back parc centred around a pool with a kids pool, a family pool, an indoor pool and a great selection of slides and water chutes. Flea was out of the cab and in the pool before the courier had even given us the keys to our accommodation!
Just five minutes walk from the parc is a beautiful, wide sandy beach with rocks for climbing and amazing views. Basically, the perfect spot for a week’s swimming and hanging out on the beach. There's a breeze, which makes it a great spot for flying kites, and stopped us from getting too hot and bothered. Many sandcastles were built, there was paddling galore, and Flea judged the pool to be “completely awesome”.
This probably isn't the location for you if you want loads of organised activities or entertainment – there's a very simple bar serving snacks but most of our cooking happened on the barbecue, and in the evenings I settled down to watch a DVD once Flea was in bed. The local area is also pretty low-key – there are a handful of simple restaurants but you need to travel further afield if you want to do any sightseeing. But if you're after a simple, no-thought-required break with children, then St Jean de Monts is perfect.
What makes Keycamp particularly brilliant, I thought, is the entertainment for kids. When we arrived there was a mini tent already put up outside our mobile home, which Flea thought was brilliant – and we got to bring it home. Even better, included in the price of the holiday is the Fun Station – games and activities for kids, run by experienced childcare workers, running for two sessions each day on the parc.
During our week away, Flea played football and cricket, took part in weird balloon races, made animal masks and learned loads of new team games. The sessions are run on a drop-in basis, meaning your kids can go to as few or as many as you choose. Flea went to four or five sessions over the week, giving her the opportunity to have fun and make friends, and giving me some precious time to relax and enjoy the weather.
I often come back from holidays feeling like I need another holiday, but for once I feel like I’ve had a complete break. Just what the doctor ordered.
PS – I'd like to apologise to the steward on our flight to Nantes for Flea's minor meltdown when we landed. I don't imagine your friendly thankyou and goodbye is often drowned out by a four-year-old shouting at you: "You said we were going to France. THIS ISN'T FRANCE, IT'S JUST AN AIRPORT."
Sorry about that.