I have been holidaying in Ireland with my family for years. So, the idea of staycation as the new vacation is not new to me or my little family! In the past, we have taken a house in lovely Rosslare, Co Wexford, which we loved! However, this year we decided to try something new and booked a cosy holiday cottage in Dunmore East, Co Waterford.
Dunmore East, Co. Waterford
So, what are my top tips for a good staycation experience in Ireland?
I am all about self-catering for a family holiday. This allows us to have a little space for the sleeping arrangements, more on that later, and hang out! I like coming up from the beach, getting everyone showered & hanging out for the night with a movie in the living room after dinner.
However, that is another person’s idea of hell! Whatever you choose – hotel, mobile home, caravan or holiday cottage – make sure that it ticks the boxes of what your needs are for your holiday.
For me, the idea of being hold up with 3 children and my husband in a hotel room gives me nightmares! So, a holiday house and self-catering is always my number 1 choice.
Ireland is Ireland and you must plan for hail, rain & shine! And that’s the thing about holidays in Ireland, you have to get out and about despite the weather. There is no such thing
as bad weather, just bad clothing choices! Pack your raincoats, wellies, swimming togs & factor 50.
Investing in wet suits for children is a must. You don’t have the spend the earth – Aldi, Lidl, Decathlon and Home Store & More had great options. I have found that once they are comfortable on the beach, whatever the weather, then the fun will roll.
By anticipating that the weather will be mixed you will be prepared to still get out and about despite it.
Go & explore! We are so lucky to live in a digital age and with a quick google search, we can find new and interesting locations to explore. Follow local bloggers on social media. Check in with the Discover Ireland top places to visit for that area.
Living side by side with COVID is something that we are all aware of. We all need to do our part in terms of social distancing, hand hygiene & mask-wearing. I find that on fine weather days the main, better known, tourist spots & beaches were too busy for us. However, only 10 minutes away were beautiful deserted coves for us to explore.
These smaller lesser-known beaches allowed us to see the rugged beauty of Co Waterford on our trip, which was simply stunning.
Before you travel, look at what activities and experiences are open to you in the area. My friend organised for us to go to Sea Kayaking one morning. This was something I had never done before and it was a simply amazing experience. For one week my children attended a water sports camp and tried out activities that they had never experienced before. We cycled a section of the Waterford Greenway and tired out pier jumping for the first time. A simple google search for ‘Things to do in Waterford’ brought up so many options. Doing this in advance will help you to build an itinerary of your time away, and make the most of it.
As a family, due to COVID-19, we made the decision to limit how much we ate out in restaurants. Instead, we opted for cooking our own meals and take away options. This worked well for us as we had self-catering accommodation. However, from what I could see the restaurants are doing all they can to adhere to the guidelines being provided to them. My feeling on it is that if you are going to eat out as a family while on staycation check out the options that are open to you in your area and make decisions regarding your comfort with their COVID policies.
If you asked my children though what meal they enjoyed the most on holiday – it would be eating fish & chips out of a paper bag on the beach in their wet suits hands down!
Before you book your accommodation think about what your wish list is around the sleeping arrangements depending on your family’s needs. We are a family of 5, 2
adults and 3 children. I ideally like 2 children to share and one child to sleep solo. That’s what works for me so a 3-bed house is what I wanted at a minimum. When booking the accommodation ask questions around what
they provide and what they don’t. That way you will know in advance what you need to bring. Do they provide cots? Do they provide bed linen? How many does each bedroom sleep etc? That way before you even get to your accommodation you will have an idea of how you are going to arrange things.
If you have children who are still in cots I would recommend that you bring a fitted sheet with you from the cot that your baby has slept on – not clean from the press! That way there is a familiar smell from home with it. I would do the same with sleeping bags and lovies!
I have a little trick around younger children that are in a single bed and not having to bring the bed rail. Simply turn the single duvet on its top edge and tuck it in under the mattress on either side. That way you have created a secure sleeping environment for your little one and are limiting the chances of them falling out of the bed!
Strange I know! But, you know that I love a good dark room for children to sleep in. Darkness supports melatonin production, the sleepy hormone, which helps us all get to sleep and stay asleep. I don’t think I have ever rented a house that has had a satisfactory blackout solution in bedrooms. For this reason, I always ensure I have thought about how I can make the rooms darker. Suggestions include travel window blackout systems or simply creating your own via black bags and or tinfoil (always be careful when using homemade solutions in case of a build-up of heat cracks a window!)
If you have created a nice dark room then your little one is more likely to sleep well for you at night.
What? A baby sleep consultant telling you to be flexible with your routine! Yes, you are on holidays. Let loose and have a little fun. That’s what holidays are for. I would advise not to let the wheels come off the bus entirely but some out and about naps or slightly later bedtimes are not going to undo everything. Just remember that holidays are to be enjoyed and if going off routine helps you to relax a little more, then do it. You can always get back on track with things once you are home!
Being a parent is full-on and it isn’t a job that allows you to take holidays, even when you are on holidays! While you are away with your family though plan in a little solo time for yourself.
Your partner will cope for a few hours on their own with the children. Take a nice walk on the beach by yourself, sit out in a café have a coffee and read your book.
For me taking a run with a view of the sea sets me up and gives me the time out to come back refreshed for the next parenting round. Allow your partner to do the same. You will both be better for it.
Children love spending time with other children, fact! While we were away we had another family come to visit us on a day trip. The kids were overjoyed to hear that another family would be joining us and we were delighted to have some other adult company. It created excitement for days! On the day they visited the children were entertained the entire day and we were able to catch up while enjoying the antics from our beach chairs.
I loved our staycation in Ireland and with a little planning, you can too!
Erica Hargaden is a Child Sleep Consultant with her private practice Babogue. She is the creator of the video-based online sleep program The Sleep Series which is now being used in 16 different countries. In recently years Erica has helped over 1,000 families achieve their sleep goals. To learn more about her services check out www.babogue.com or @babogue_sleep. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +353 86 8260887.