We love a good parenting story. It’s so interesting to compare the rewards and challenges of parenting different ages and to find out the story behind other people’s parenting values. We hope you enjoy this article, written for us by Janine, who describes herself as “a reiki healer, vibe queen, card reader and all round spiritual entrepreneur. Graves disease fighter, depression and anxiety sufferer.” Intrigued? We’ve popped Janine’s website and Instagram links at the end of the article below.
Being a single parent is not an easy option, I’ve experienced many amazing highs but lows too, moments of self doubt, overwhelm and loneliness. The hardest part of raising children alone is you don’t have anyone to share the joys, the milestones, the first smile, the toddler years, but equally I could raise Flynn the way I felt was best for him and me. I’m a member of an amazing networking group and it was during one of our brainstorming sessions another lovely business owner asked if anyone would like to write a parenting blog post. I’ve never written about my parenting journey so I jumped at the challenge. I wrote this in collaboration with Equipp. Amongst other things they sell gifts, which are designed to make teens feel supported, loved and bursting with self-belief. You can also follow them and watch their great content on Instagram.
I thought long and hard about which stage of our journey I could write about, because there are so many. I asked Flynn if it was ok – after all I’m sharing parts of his story, he agreed and is used to me talking about him.
I started writing about when I fell pregnant, (fell pregnant like I stumbled, it’s such a weird term), and the toddler years. I wondered if I should write about primary school, juggling work snd parenting, his dyslexia diagnosis, high school and what has been the hardest emotionally – GCSE time and the anxiety Flynn experienced. He’s dyslexic and the school weren’t very supportive, especially primary school. He’s since thrived at college and intends to go to University.
I digress. This is a glimpse into my experience being a single parent travelling solo long haul…
Our first long haul holiday to Thailand…
When Flynn was 14 months old (2003) I was studying at university. During the Easter holidays I discussed with Sam (his dad) if we should meet in Thailand, a mid way point between Australia and England, well probably closer to Australia. I arranged a flight, and I asked him if he would meet me. Sam said he couldn’t get the time off work, but I decided to go anyway. Some of my friends were apprehensive about me going alone. I was too but I knew we’d be ok.
I was a little worried, however, I had stopped in Thailand for a month on my way to Australia. I met a couple of families who travelled there with kids. One such family was single parent with a 4 year old. I thought, if they can do it so can I. After all, kids live in Thailand and as long as Flynn had me he would be ok.
I did my research, I asked questions on the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree forum, I found a travel milk bottle, you could buy single use away liners, which were sterilised. I took milk sachets with me, I had my backpack and I took his pram along with a few nappies, clothes and toys.
Off to Thailand
I was scared and the first flight to Qatar felt very long but Flynn slept, well, like a baby. He was given baby food on the flight and once we arrived in Thailand we had a connecting flight to Koh Samui. I booked 2 nights in Bangkok in a lovely hotel before our return flight. I was organised! When we arrived at Koh Samui airport it looked like the Flintstones’ airport, it was mainly built in bamboo and it was very tropical looking. Beautiful ?
I went to the accommodation desk and I booked 3 nights at a beach resort in Koh Samui , which was also on the ferry route to Koh Pan Yang. We ventured out locally and we ended up going to see the golden Buddha with two German women staying at the same beach resort.
An amazing experience
The place was beautiful, and very cheap. it had a pool, a lovely room with a tv and we were happy. The jet lag was hard but after sleeping at night the next day I felt ok. Flynn was happy in the pool spinning around in his rubber ring. He slept in the morning and in the afternoon. He ate fruit, omelettes and rice. I had so many pictures of him. He was very blonde at the time and the Thais loved him, fussing over him. They were very kind and nonjudgmental too.
In fact they loved him so much in the beach hut cafe that random people would pick him up. I did find this distressing at first. I watched him like a hawk but I soon realised it’s a cultural love of children. Flynn is a naturally happy person and very engaging. When he was a baby and toddler he would smile at everyone. In fact it was women who received the most attention. In the sea he would spin in his rubber ring smiling at pretty young girls. It started to get embarrassing after a while!
The picture below is in Koh Pan Yang, we stayed on this beach paradise for over 2 weeks. I was so relaxed and so used to walking bare foot, when we went into town on the 4×4 I forgot my shoes! All in all we had a great time, I was invited to the Full Moon party, famous on the island but even I’m not that hedonistic so I refused. I did get drunk on Thai buckets with an English guy I met and two Swedish girls, while Flynn slept. This was the only occasion of hedonism because I didn’t go to Thailand to do this I went to rest and enjoy Flynn.
Would I do this again?
Hell yes, if I’d had the resources I would have happily travelled around the world with Flynn. My main advice is, do your research for the country. I’ve personally found South East Asia a great place to travel as a single parent. We’ve been to Vietnam and Cambodia and we went back to Australia in 2018 when Flynn was 16. We’ve also travelled in Europe and the Middle East.
However this trip and subsequent ones in Asia were amazing. Flynn is an easy child to travel with, he started in the womb. I continued to travel and work in Australia when I was pregnant and I went to Indonesia. I simply listened to my intuition and I just knew it would be ok. The only doubt is the fear projected from others. I’m an experienced traveller and was a solo traveller well before the rise of the internet. It really isn’t that difficult.
My next step is travelling with my dog. She’s travelled on trains and cars in UK but I want to take her further afield. Again dogs live everywhere and as long as she’s vaccinated she will be ok.
We’re so happy we inspired you to start writing about your parenting experiences, Janine! Keep writing – it will be fantastic for Flynn to be able to look back on this in the future.