A multi generational holiday can be a winner for all members of a family. Grandparents get to spend quality, fun time with their grandchildren and parents get an extra pair of hands to help with the children and maybe even a night off!
How to make sure it works for everyone? We asked mum and travel expert Lisa from Travel Loving Family how a holiday with both sets of parents worked for her family. Lisa is a former Travel Specialist who has visited no fewer than 80 countries, so she has plenty of experience of planning a great getaway!
A few weeks prior to the due date of our second baby we took a mid-week break to Center Parcs with my parents and parents-in-law. We felt it was a lovely opportunity to get together before baby arrived and the perfect time to give Charlie our son and future big brother lots of attention from the six most important people in his life. Charlie’s life was about to change forever, he was going to have to learn to share our time and as his baby brother got older also share all of his most treasured belongings
It was a magical week for Charlie who thrived in the attention of all four Grandparents, his Daddy and I. He was in his element always having someone who was available and willing to take part in a little adventure with him. My mum took part in a cheerleading class with him, his Daddy accompanied him to a fencing and roller skating class and both Nannas took him on a bear hunt. As a group we all enjoyed mini golf and getting completely lost on a nature trail around Sherwood Forest.
Never having been on holiday with both sets of parents before my husband and I were a little apprehensive. Our families live several hours apart from each other so they rarely see each other. My husband and I had booked the holiday as a Christmas present for all four parents. We selected Center Parcs because we have always been huge fans. We love the concept of the entertainment, amenities and restaurants being conveniently located close together within an enclosed forest. We have visited many times before, including for holidays with friends and even for my hen weekend, but I have to say Center Parcs works particularly well for multi generational holidays. There truly was something on offer which suited all ages and abilities…from Charlie who was three, through to my father-in-law who was the eldest in our party at 65. Even I, at 38 weeks pregnant, was not short of activities to enjoy!
We selected the accommodation carefully, it was important to us that everyone had enough space for privacy. We chose a 4 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom Woodland Lodge located within short walking distance of the main entertainment complex as my father-in-law has to take it easy (plus I did not want to be walking miles with my huge bump!) As we booked in advance and visited during term time we managed to book a great deal which worked out at a very reasonable £100 per night. A major benefit of having both sets of grandparents around was that we had four willing babysitters and so my husband and I left Charlie in very capable, loving hands and enjoyed an evening relaxing at the twilight spa!
To ensure that everyone had an enjoyable time I had spoken to all four parents prior to our holiday and asked what activities they were interested in and what restaurants they wished to dine at. I wanted to book several activities for Charlie in advance of our visit but I made it clear that I did not want everyone to feel that they had to tag around after us all the time when they could be enjoying other activities. I think this open discussion beforehand was crucial to the success of the holiday and ensured that everyone did feel they could do their own thing as well as participate in group activities. For example, one morning the three men enjoyed some time at the golf driving range whilst the two Nannas accompanied Charlie and I on a kids activity. To keep everyone fully involved and informed, I had emailed the activity booking log in details so that everyone could see for themselves the range of activities available and view the various bookings I had made.
As with every holiday Charlie has been on since he was two, his much loved Trunki came with us to Center Parcs. I always give Charlie the responsibility of packing his own treasured toys and books into his Trunki. I do this for two reasons – firstly it restricts how many of his treasures come with us on our adventures and keeps them securely contained and secondly, whilst he ponders over which of his favourite toys get to come on holiday with us, I usually get at least 30 minutes of peace to pack our suitcase and run around doing last minute holiday preparation!
Charlie is always so proud of himself when he has finished lovingly packing his Trunki and likes to carry it to the car to ensure it does not get left behind. Once we arrive on holiday, the first thing he always wants to do is take his Trunki to his new temporary bedroom and unpack his toys to make it feel more like home :)