A trip to Paris, the opportunity to go on safari, a long-haul flight to Australia. Trips away like this are what dreams are made of. But travelling as an introvert with a family in tow can be somewhat of a nightmare for those of us who are perpetually inward thinkers. The noise, the chaos, the demands, the itinerary, and the inability to escape to recharge can leave us wondering, "what's the point? Isn't this meant to be our holiday too?"
Believe me when I say a holiday with kids is no easy feat at the best of times, but add being an overwhelmed introvert into the mix, and you may very well need a holiday after a holiday. And yet, giving our children experiences outside of our daily routines is something we all lean towards as parents. There are only so many day trips to the other side of the country we can do, so the idea of a holiday abroad crosses our minds. But before we get sucked into the pineapple-shaped swimming pools, the island of museums, and the long winding canals, we begin to think about when or how we can find time away to keep our heads balanced when crowded with our partner and kids in a hotel room?
Things will obviously be different on holiday. We can't send the kids outside to play to catch a breather or organise a playdate for an hour on our own. While on holiday, we don't want to be living in the future for when Andy can head to Sam's house for a while or living for the routine of weekday bedtimes.
There are, of course, plenty of creative ways for an introverted parent to holiday with kids to catch that all important break such as apartments instead of hotels, kids’ clubs, and babysitters on site. But it’s not always enough to have these options to hand. What is important first of all, is acceptance. We need to remember to acknowledge and understand who we are — an introvert at home and an introvert on holiday. Shying away from our need for quiet and space will not help you when you're on holiday. So, before we dig into a few tips and tricks about holidaying as an introvert, remember to appreciate the person you are and build a few boundaries even when on holiday.
1. Keep Communication Open
Being on holiday can change many things but not everything. Your partner, who has your back at home, will also have your back in the Canaries! Keep communication open and let them know when you are overwhelmed or need a break. Continue to parent as a team and voice when you feel stressed before it gets too much. Your partner could take the kids for a swim or to the petting zoo while you unwind and regroup.
2. Keep Routines Going
We can't keep the same routines obviously because you are on holiday after all but maintaining an understanding around bedtime will help you feel somewhat in control of the holiday. The kids don't need to be asleep by 9 pm but rather in bed with a book instead for quiet time. Use this time at the end of the day to recharge your energy levels.
3. Be Mindful of Your Energy Levels
A day at a theme park is every child's dream. For us, it could quite simply be too much to take on if we have not replenished our energy. When figuring out a holiday itinerary, have a plan B if you are mentally worn down before a specific activity. White water rafting looks great fun, but you need to be at your peak to challenge the rapids. And don’t forget, family holidays do not necessarily mean everyone has to do everything together. Give yourself permission to skip an activity or two, and tag team with your partner if they are also an introvert.
4. Monitor Your Personal Space
Monitoring your personal space is especially important if you are all staying in a hotel room together. While the kids are bouncing from bed to bed, you may wonder if an empty bath is comfortable enough to sleep in. After a long day of sightseeing and intense social interaction, the tub is the last resort, but for an introvert, it may be the only option if there is nowhere else to find quiet and space. If the idea of a one-roomed hotel sends you into a hot sweat, think outside of the box with accommodation and check out options such as renting apartments or homes instead (we found a fabulous 2-bed apartment for our recent trip to Disneyland Paris on AirBnB that was a fraction of the cost of staying in a Disney Hotel – and it was a 5 minute shuttle to the park!).
5. Enjoy the Moments
Parental guilt has a funny way of creeping into our holidays, even if we are at Disneyland. Because we are on holiday, we feel as though we should say yes to everything, give in to every demand, be always "on", and never shout for fear we would ruin the entire week. In reality, parenting doesn't end when we are on holiday, and we need to create and maintain boundaries for our good and that of our children. Not every minute of your holiday will be a clickable, postable, memorable experience. And that's ok. It's more than ok, it's normal! As an introverted parent, we can feel quickly drained and easily triggered if we don't get the chance to revert inward enough. So, take the pressure off and enjoy the moments instead of attempting to create a week of perfection.
A good holiday requires planning, an understanding of the rail system, and google translate on your phone. A great holiday needs a happy, supported, and connected parent! So have a plan A and a plan B, give yourself a break from guilt, noise, and social interaction, ask for help, say no, tag out, and make memories.