Holidaying with kids – getting the most out of it…

‘Holidays’, the word evokes images of long sunny days idling lazily by the pool or exploring ancient ruins doing whatever takes your fancy, but add in ‘with kids’ and the connotation changes – less lazing and more stressed.

Sure – its still long sunny days, lying by the pool and exploring the local sites but its to someone else’s timetable and lying by the pool is a necessity because you become the base and the keeper of towels and changes of clothes.

Exploration turns into finding the best family friendly restaurants, local pharmacy , supermarket and for the biggest kid of all; himself, the nearest water park so you might as well accept ‘holiday with kids’ holidays that are now your life for the next few years and learn to maximize the benefits so its more relaxing and less taxing.

The place to start is at booking stage. We’ve chosen Lanzarote the last couple of times as weather is guaranteed. Its very family friendly and we’re familiar with the town but we have friends who swear by other locations.

Its always good to get a recommendation from someone you know. As the kids get older we’ll probably get more adventurous and look at other locations.

We stay at the Sands Beach resort in Costa Teguise. Its right beside the beach and the resort even has its own lagoon and man made beach so you’re spoiled. It has restaurants, kid’s club, night entertainment and gym.

There are six plaza’s with villas shaping a ‘U’ and five with their own adult and toddler pool. One has an olympic pool and one has a well stocked playground.

We typically book direct with villa owners but you can also book through the resort. I look through tonnes of villas till I get the right one, preferably overlooking both pools that way I can get a poolside lounger right outside the villa where the kids are visible at all times, including himself.

My older two prefer the adult pool but my two year old loves the baby pool. It allows you to relax and monitor from one location. When the two year old goes for her nap I decamp to the balcony a few short feet away still able to monitor the kids in the pool and keep an ear out for my sleeping toddler.

The other thing to look out for is space and facilities in the villa.

Last year we went for a two bed bungalow villa and had loads of room but we were located at the very end of the plaza just outside the deep end of the adult pool so spent our days going up and down from the villa to the shallow end.

This year location won out over space and so opted for a one bed villa. It definitely worked. There was no friction and pulling down the bed in the living room each night and putting it back up in the mornings wasn’t a big deal but right next door to us was a two story two bed villa with lots of space and great location so next year I’ll go for that option. It even had a stair guard at the bottom of the stairs.

Our villa had a toaster, kettle, microwave, tv and dvd player. We ate breakfast in the villa each morning and lunch if we were around but went out for dinner most nights. On the first night, we arrived very late and the kids were cranky so we picked up takeout from a restaurant from across the road from the resort.

The dvd player was great for occupying the kids during the mid-day heat when its too hot to go outside. We also brought our laptop which we were able to connect to the tv and they could watch their favourite tv shows. This was a godsend for the plane also but that’s another topic.

Another big plus was the washing machine. I used it every day and hung the clothes out on a clothes horse on the balcony. They were dry in an hour or two. The villa came with a fan which is a must as the heat can be quite intense. .

We spent the afternoons exploring the local town or some of the island’s attractions.

Each evening went out to one of the town’s many family friendly restaurants. You could walk along the picturesque seafront and pick which ever one takes your fancy. They were all very good.

We choose a spot overlooking the sea a couple of nights. It was a strip of restaurants in a courtyard and in the middle of them were three very cleverly placed trampolines. The kids loved these and every night there were queues of kids looking to strap on the harnesses and jump high up into the cloudless sky while parents relaxed and chatted without worrying about trying to entertain cranky kids while waiting on dinner to arrive.

There were souvenir shops that stayed open late so the kids could pick out small gifts for their friends in between courses. As it was so mild we ate outside and it was easy to manage the stroller. Our toddler prefers to sit in a chair so the stroller was only used for transportation and hanging bags and hoodies.

Himself had been dying to try out the water park AGAIN so loaded with our gear we headed off. The resort ordered a taxi and we took the five minute ride and paid the entrance at the gate. The resort is full of water slides for all ages so its a good idea to scout around for a good base location.

I was base camp which I was happy with as I preferred to lounge than swim. It was right beside a toddler pool but within easy view of the other slides. Himself and the older two had great fun on the water slides while I quietly enjoyed going from the lounger to the toddler pool.

There are other attractions like Rancho Texas where there is a zoo and wild life park. We went there last year and loved it. Some of the shows at Rancho Texas are also part of the night time attractions at the resort. You can book attractions in the resort or you can drive to them or take a taxi and pay at the entrance.

The Teguise markets are also a huge draw and take place every Sunday. Its well worth a trip and you’ll find something that interests you whether its artisan crafts or leather goods or just the old town itself.

Every night there is family entertainment in the main resort, with singers, magic acts, parrot shows. There will be something for everyone to enjoy. The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly and children are encouraged to come close to the stage.

The short stroll back to the villa is quiet and bathed in a gentle light so you can see where you are going without it being annoying for those sleeping.

If you’re feeling adventurous you can swim in the Olympic pool, jog alog the seafront or take one of the many classes on offer at the gym and Olympic pool. For kids there are paddle board classes, scuba diving and fun activities in the kids club.

If you never wanted to leave the resort you don’t have to and there are lots of things to do should you choose to but on the other hand if you just want to relax and treat it as home from home with good weather and a pool as a bonus then that’s on option too.

Its all down to your preference but either way you can optimize your chances of a successful, relaxing family holiday if you plan well and focus on what you’d like to get out of the holiday. Happy hunting.

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