After losing Livvy holidays were never the same, every experience was entwined with a little sadness.
Its hard and there is no two ways about it. It’s one of the ‘first’s’ that really hit hard.
So when I came across the charity Scotty’s Little Soldiers I so wanted to share what they did.
Scotty’s Little Soldiers is dedicated to supporting the children of men and women killed while serving in the British Armed Forces. The charity provides Christmas and birthday gifts, treats, trips and activities for the families of the fallen as well as enabling them to use the charity holiday lodges.
How incredible is this!
The men and woman who protect our freedom often do so by paying the ultimate price. But its not just the soldiers that pay this price the families that left behind suffer too.
The military charity for bereaved children was set up by army widow Nikki Scott after her husband Corporal Lee Scott was killed in Afghanistan in 2009 and came about as a result of Nikki seeing her children laugh for the first time following Lee’s death whilst on holiday in Turkey.
Nikki Scott, Founder of Scotty’s Little Soldiers, said:
“Whilst life following the death of a spouse or partner will always be painful, the first year and the first family holiday can be particularly difficult, especially when facing the long summer holidays as a single parent.
“That’s why we’ve released our advice to help and support parents facing this difficult time. Whilst it’s seldom spoken about, going on holiday whilst still grieving is a reality for many across the UK and so we want to offer our advice and support wherever necessary.”
Scotty’s help children to smile again after losing a mum or dad, and helps the parent left behind to cope with facing life as a single parent.
As the charity’s children look ahead to six weeks of summer holidays this year, we wanted to share founder Nikki’s top ten tips for parents facing the school break alone.
1. Long road journeys can be a nightmare! I invested in some car DVD players and they worked a treat. If we are going on a long special journey I normally surprise them with a new DVD when they get in the car. J I would also recommend breaking up long car journeys with roadside stops at services or cafes to give you and your kids a break.
2. Special things from home. At the Scotty lodges we try to provide everything families would need and fill them with toys and goodies so the families can pack as light as possible but I would also suggest taking that extra favourite toy or teddy from home. Maybe even taking a photo of your loved one may help.
3. Take a family member or friend with you. It is stressful with little ones on your own especially that first holiday. When I went away after Lee had been killed I went with family and my mum and it was a massive help. It just gives you some support and helps take some of the stress away, plus my little ones loved playing with their cousins. At Scotty’s we allow the families to take other family members or close friends with them on the breaks we offer as a way of support.
4. Be organised! I found the airport really stressful! Going through check in especially. Folding a buggy up whilst keeping my eye on Kai, whilst carrying bags and Brooke so they could scan the buggy etc was tough so my best tip would be to try to be as organised a possible.
5. Plan your activities. Do your research before you go. Check out what facilities there are around you so you can plan what to do and where to go.
6. Smile! As painful as my first holiday was especially because you are constantly imaging “if Lee was here” and feeling guilty for having some time away, you have to remember to smile. I kept telling myself “Lee would want us to have some fun, it’s ok to have some fun.” I soon found out if you relax the kids relax!
7. Keep busy – I found keeping busy and just spending time playing with my little ones really helped. If you sit by the pool to long, you start to think to much and start noticing all the families around you reminding you what you have lost. I found it was good to keep busy and enjoy spending some quality time with the kids.
8. Write Lists – I am a big fan of lists! Writing a list for packing and travelling times really helped me as when I first lost Lee my mind was all over the place and I found it hard to focus so lists defiantly helped me to feel in control.
9. Check in Early – If you are off on a break aboard I’d recommend looking into checking in online to save queuing with the little ones and remember buggies can be taken all the way up to the gate where you board the plane.
10. Looking into the Kids Clubs – My kids love the kids clubs on the Haven sites where our Scotty Lodges are. It can give children the chance to mix with other children and forget about all the sadness they may have been experiencing at home for a short time. Sometimes being away from mummy may help them to open up and relax so it may be an idea to quietly let the guys at the kids club know about your recent loss in case the little ones bring it up to someone else.
“I guess it’s important to remember that everyone is different and has different ways of coping but these are a few of my personal top tips on how I make the holidays for me and my kiddies that little bit easier,” said Nikki Scott.
Personally I think this charity is amazing.
When Olivia died we had to teach our girls that it was ok to be happy.
That laughing and feeling joy only honours the ones we have lost.
Scotty’s Little Soldiers invites everyone who is passionate about their cause and wants to support their work to get in touch via their website at www.scottyslittlesoldiers.co.uk or by calling them on 01553 763 000.