Adjusting Expectations When Travelling with Children
BC (Before Children obviously not Before Christ although it sometimes feels that long ago) I was lucky enough to travel widely. Places like Namibia, Bali, Texas, California, Figi, Cooke Islands, Australia were all visited, loved and explored. Beaches were lay on, cocktails were drunk and books (lots and lots of them) were read. I was obsessed with holidays and this didn’t change when we got married. We honeymooned in Nepal trekking to Annapurna thinking it could be our last adventure for a while and I was right as I returned from honeymoon pregnant with our eldest. Our last holiday BC was to Barbados when I was 4 months pregnant and we lay on the beach, hubby drank cocktails, I read books and we wondered how life and travel might change? We resolved to travel far and wide with our Mini Traveller (singular) and not let having a family change our travel plans. Little did we know.
Our first holiday with our eldest daughter was to the Cotswolds when she was 5 months old. We hunted out beautiful accommodation, there was no chance we were going to Centre Parcs, we weren’t changing our holiday ideas (so we thought!)! We had already decided that we would go somewhere exotic in June, why wouldn’t we, other travelers could put up with our baby on the plane for a few hours!!. So we went along in March full of excitement and with a case full of books as usual but I didn’t read a thing and the holiday wasn’t good. In fairness the place was lovely and you can read a review of it here, but the holiday itself wasn’t in line with my expectations. I was very very sick and that didn’t help at all, but the real problem was that it wasn’t a holiday.
With a tiny baby a stay away from home is just that. It’s the same shit/delight/joy depending on your feelings, just a different location. You still have to change the nappies, feed the baby, get up 3/4/5 times a night , you just do it in somewhere that’s not your house and often somewhere that is not set up as well. So you need to make sure you pick the right place to stay and you need to change your expectations. You will not and I repeat not, be having lazy mornings, be sipping cocktails on the beach whilst the baby sleeps soundly and you will not be reading lots of books. It will not be like any holiday you have ever had before.
What you will be doing is making memories, very special precious memories, but you do need to accept that your holiday won’t be the same. Once you’ve adjusted you can actually start to enjoy your holiday and cherish it for the wonderful time it will be.
To do this I have worked out that I have to acknowledge that the holiday is about the little ones. If they are happy, you will be happy. So think farm holidays, kiddy activities, child friendly swimming pool (I’m afraid this doesn’t usually equate to an infinity pool), kids club (depending on age) other children and and your attention. They mainly want you and your time. They do not understand sunbathing, cocktail drinking and book reading (unless it is reading The Gruffalo/other favourite book!) This was the hardest thing for me to accept, which I know doesn’t make me a particularly good person, but they really do just want your undivided attention.
So turn away from the cocktails (until after 7pm anyway, I am of course not suggesting a sober holiday) put away those i-Phones, forget about those books, and book a child friendly holiday destination where you can lavish your attention on them. You will then have a wonderful time.
OR maybe take the grandparents!!!!