As our kids get older I am finding it increasingly difficult to keep everyone happy and entertained, with age appropriate activities and such like, and taking them away on holiday was no different. E is 5, she wants to swim and build sandcastles and play in the park. H & L at 10 and 12 want to have some freedom to go swimming, make new friends and explore without being restricted to what mum and dad want to do because they're not quite old enough to go off by themselves. With J & A being 14 and 17, we are in new territory completely because frankly some days we barely see them at all. Everyone does their own thing at home, we all have our own space, hobbies and interests, but when you're on holiday together - how on Earth are you supposed to please everyone?
I was excited to take J & A to Kos with Mark Warner Holidays because I knew that they would love it. They needed a break after a long year of A-level and GCSE studies and heading off for some Autumn sun in Greece before the long Winter blows in (and before A2 and GCSE mocks and exams begin) was the ideal opportunity. I did have a chat with them before we left - asked them to make the most of our time away and to give everything a go, take part in activities and go to Indy club. I was pleased that they didn't make me nag and they did go to the welcome meeting, and to my delight they spent almost all of our time at Lakitira out on the water with their new friends.
Indy Club started later than the other clubs, and their days began with Indy Breakfast in the main restaurant meaning that they could get up later and enjoy a leisurely breakfast with the other teens on resort. Afterwards they changed, coated themselves in sun screen and then made their way to the waterfront where they spent their days sailing, SUP boarding, kayaking and windsurfing. The waterfront staff and their Indy Club leader Char were great and kept them safe and busy, to the point where we actually didn't spend that much time with A & J because they were so keen to be out doing other things, though while the younger three went to their respective clubs after the kids' high tea in the evenings, the older two would eat with me and their Dad and we actually enjoyed some quality bonding time over dinner which we don't normally get to have.
They both threw themselves into sailing in particular and made friends with a lad named Angus who visits Lakitira with his family every year. Angus has very kindly made a YouTube video for me to share of his RSCAT16 sailing experience in Kos, he spent a lot of time with A & J out on the sea helping them sail (or just, not drown after they capsized the boats) and enjoying all of the other watersports Lakitira has to offer.
The Mark Warner experience with children of differing ages was a hugely positive one for us. We all got to have our quality family time together as well as time apart to do our own thing, and really be able to immerse ourselves in the holiday experience. All of the children made some great new friends and spent time doing activities with them. We had lots of fun together swimming and building sandcastles, burying each other in the sand, and playing football out on the court in the evenings. Our teenagers were able to have some real quality time with mum & dad on their own without younger ones taking up all of our time & attention, as well as being free to roam around the resort and have fun with the other teens... By hiding all of the beach sun loungers from the waterfront staff for example, though I can of course neither confirm nor deny this...
In my opinion, holiday childcare provision is usually geared towards kids aged 12 & under, with teens being left to their own devices where they can end up bored and disengaged which is not good enough. I don't want them sat in a room with colouring pens and a games console. I want them OUTSIDE, to be active, to make memories, to learn new skills - it's their holiday too after all and their needs should be met. Taking small children on holiday is easy - you've got sand, you've got water, you've got food. They're happy. Teenagers & 'tweens'? They need so much more than that.
Mark Warner offer an inclusive holiday experience that everyone can enjoy and we had a truly wonderful time with everyone asking (begging) to go back again next year. There is something for everyone, and I loved that my teens felt as much a part of our family holiday as the young ones did. It would be all too easy to let them mooch around the hotel room with their phone or laptop for a quiet life, but Mark Warner gets them out doing things - making friends and having fun which is what holidays are all about.
Mark Warner Holidays provided flights and half board accommodation for five people as part of the #MarkWarnerMum Ambassadorship. All opinions and words are my own.
Sharing with #justanotherlinky, Pick 'n' Mix Fridays, Best and Worst.