When 2019 started, I set myself a New Year’s Resolution to take my three-year-old son TJ on holiday. I desperately wanted to take him to Disneyland in Paris with possibly a last-minute beach holiday later in the year if money stretched that far. Yet, I am an idiot for thinking that – OF COURSE my solo and part-time income couldn’t finance meeting Mickey Mouse. So, the beach holiday took centre stage instead for my first holiday with a toddler. After much research, I booked a week in a very family-friendly all-inclusive resort on a beach in Menorca.

Pre-holiday jitters

As soon as I got my booking confirmation email, I was nervous about a holiday with a toddler on my own. The thought of having to get TJ up in the middle of the night to make our 6am flight from Gatwick stressed me out. I was concerned about being surrounded by two-parent families and sticking out like a sore thumb as a single mum. Panic hit me about whether I had the stamina for seven days of round the clock parenting (with a couple of possible visits to the kid’s club being my only respite).

I didn’t need to have worried. The trip to Menorca was purely and simply magical. TJ showed the true colours of his personality – fun, polite, friendly, adaptable, helpful, inquisitive, confident, kind and oh so funny – throughout the entire week. OK, there were a small number of tantrums too but nothing on the scale which I had been expecting. It showed me how TJ’s maturity is beyond his tiny years in so many respects.

Never want to leave

Within moments of arriving at the hotel, we were both blown away with the week which lay before us. TJ splashed in the toddler pool and ran around on the beach telling me that he never wanted to leave and that he liked everything about the resort. We were having so much fun that, 40-minute nap aside, our first day was 20 hours long as we both didn’t climb into bed until 10pm. The mini disco and nightly entertainment, usually a music show, repeatedly brought out the party animal in TJ (and me). One night, we went up to the room before the music show started – only for him to insist we went back downstairs when we heard the performance get underway. Who am I to stop him – he can sleep at home. So, back downstairs we went and we danced together to classic rock ‘n’ roll. It was ace.

The days were filled with swimming pools, a beautiful beach, a few trips to the kid’s club (TJ requested it several times – well done Thomas Cook for putting on so much fun) TJ’s first swim in the sea to spot fish swimming around our toes and a few afternoons of blissful solitude for me to relax and read with free gin and tonics.

We were lucky enough to bask in sunshine and blue skies most days with temperatures in their low 20’s – perfect for us both. There were a couple of days where the wind was making itself known but it wasn’t enough to dampen our spirits. But we just put on our hoodies and enjoyed having the entire beach to ourselves for one happy morning!

Happy holidays

That’s what it’s all about isn’t it – happy holidays.

I remember going on so many all-inclusive holidays with TJ’s dad before we split up two years ago. The holidays were always nice, but they were definitely not non-stop fun. We didn’t spend much time together really. I wanted to watch the sunsets and he wanted to go to the gym. More than once, I even remember thinking on some of those trips “it’s OK, we’re going home soon and then things will be back to normal.” Well, that is far from a normal thing to say about a week in the sun with your husband – I know that now.

But, that week in Menorca with TJ was monopolised by smiles, laughter, cuddles and pure joy. I also need not to have worried so much about being on my own in a family resort. It didn’t take long to meet a fellow single mum who was there with her two older children. We got on well and we sat together in the evenings and had little chats if we crossed paths around the hotel. It was good to know that I wasn’t alone. In fact, I spotted other single mums and single dads there too all enjoying undivided time with their offspring.

So, with my head held high and TJ’s little hand in mine, we had the time of our lives together and that is something which I will always be proud of.

Back with a bump

But all holidays come to an end and it was back down to reality with a bump when the plane landed.

Dropping TJ off with his dad on the way back from the airport sparked the familiar physical pain of being away from my little man in one of its most acute forms. I had revelled in the pure luxury of seemingly endless days in the sun with an awesome travel buddy. Then, I faced five days alone without him as the co-parenting routine got back underway.

I went home alone to get the laundry done and pack away the summer swimwear for a little while. My good god, I was sad and more than a little sleep deprived. But I was also safe in the knowledge that I gave my boy a week of fun in the sun. I did it. Me. On my own. I paid for it. It was me who looked after him. We made each other happy. Together, we made memories which will last us a lifetime … even if TJ probably won’t recall them when he’s a moody teenager.

Don’t let fear get the better of you – no matter how big or small the feat may be. That’s the life lesson that I am taking from all of this. That and the need to set up a holiday fund so we can hopefully do it all over again in the not too distant future.