Our holiday as a single-parent family – Sally’s story

Posted 16 July 2018

Single mum of three, Sally, recently booked a holiday with the support of a Family Fund Grant.

Single mum of three, Sally, recently booked a holiday with the support of a Family Fund Grant. Here, she discusses the highlights and challenges of her time in Rye.

I’m Sally, and for almost three years, I’ve been a single parent of three young children who are now eleven, eight and five.

All of my children are on the autism spectrum, and they haven’t seen their father all year so they are my sole responsibility. My eleven-year-old was diagnosed with autism and ADHD five years ago – three weeks after giving birth to my youngest! My daughters are soon to receive a confirmed diagnosis.

Applying for the Family Fund Grant

As a result, my son has been in receipt of DLA and I‘m his carer. Since my husband left us, I have been raising my family on benefits, and this year, I found out about the Family Fund Grant for families who are on a low income with a disabled child . This grant can be used for numerous items, one being a family holiday, so I applied for a holiday grant and was successful!

I booked a week in a caravan in Rye, East Sussex, which was close to the beach and had evening entertainment. This was our first holiday as just the four of us and I’ll admit I found it quite daunting. I knew that it wouldn’t be much different to being at home, but at least I can see friends during the day or they can pop over in the evening – for this week, my ‘company’ was the kids.

Challenges and finances

My eight-year-old has quite bad anxiety, so the build up to the holiday was quite stressful for her as we were going somewhere new and she was anticipating being homesick. We spent our days exploring the area, going to the beach and celebrating my five-year-old’s birthday.

Although the accommodation was paid for, I live on quite a tight budget, so paying £10 for four soft drinks made me wince. I was conscious of the finances but also torn between wanting the kids to enjoy their holiday so compromise came into play – fortunately, the kids are quite used to hearing that I can’t afford it.

I was also dealing with meltdowns, fighting and anticipating what was going to happen if we did something. I felt lonely. It was hard to see traditional families spending time together and making memories, while I had mine all in different directions, having a meltdown because I put suncream on my daughter’s face – how dare I try to protect her! My 8 year old was growling because my son had buried her sandles in the sand, and god forbid, I bought the wrong ice-cream – well, all hell broke loose!

Making the most of things

During the evenings, we went to the evening entertainment at the bar, which the kids enjoyed. I, on the other hand, could see all the families and groups of friends socialising together while I sat there drinking the most vile wine I think I’ve ever had. I looked around the room each night and we were the only single parent family there. Everyone else was having fun with friends or family. I sat there, watching my kids, cheering them on. The only time I got to myself was back at the caravan. The kids would entertain themselves for a while and I’d sit on the steps with a drink.

I did have a word with myself though: ‘Come on, pull yourself together. So, are we never going to go on holiday? No, so suck it up buttercup! This is our family and I have to make the most of it.’ They are wonderful kids and the four of us are incredibly close and that’s what matters – not a stranger’s opinion.

It can’t have been that bad – I’m planning on using the Grant again next year for us to go to a Eurocamp in France!

Check out our guide to planning holidays as a single parent

5 comments on “Our holiday as a single-parent family – Sally’s story

  1. Well done! I think I’ve been to the same place and I know exactly what you mean about being the only single parent family there.

  2. Totally get this. Just back from an all inclusive with my son ( I also have sole parental responsibility). My child had an awesome time but it was certainly not a break in the traditional sense. I didb’t get 5 mins to myself and it is hard seeing nuclear families all around you. X

  3. Ever thought about camping in this country? I’ve made friends with other loan parents, we’ve met at camp sites and had a blast! My attitude is I’ll never fit into
    the mould, so I’ll break the mould and live the life that I choose … though I appreciate how dauting and overwhelming it is when your dealing with it all on your own! X

  4. Lol. I completely understand the above story.

    I went to this same caravan park in Easter this year. I took my 4 children aged, 7, 8, 10 and 11.

    I would go to the entertainment in the eve and watch my children dance. I would also cheer them on. I would also look around and see other families with relatives or freinds.

    It’s as though I had written the above story. It’s really good to hear that I am not alone experiencing being a single parent on holiday.
    Well done to you.

  5. I usually go with friends but this year its just me and my 3 children. I know in the day we will have fun but it’s like you say sat there on my own at the entertainment, my kids have fun but i on the other had sit alone feeling uncomfortable 🙈 i just remind myself im doing it for the kids and if i didn’t take them we simply wouldn’t have a holiday. My lad is on the spectrum which does come with some problems but on the other hand, we get to have a brilliant time in the day, its just the evenings the loneliness hits i think. Xx

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