Holidays once you’ve had a baby are a real eye opener. It’s a bit like signing up for a challenge event which you’ve done no training for, the first one you go on with a baby can be a bit of a shock to the system. Gone are the carefree, hedonistic lounging by the pool days. Those day’s are long forgotten. Everything changes once that little person comes along.
Before baby, there were sunsets to watch whilst supping cold beers, listening to chilled out tunes. There were endless restaurants to choose from, clubs to dance in and sunrises to stumble home to. Now, the beer goes warm before you get your lips to the bottle, background music is a nursery rhyme CD stuck on repeat and you don’t care about seeing sunrises or sunsets anymore as bed is far more important. Before baby, you have choices and decisions that just factor in you, you don’t need to worry about feeding a small human, packing enough items to outlast a potential end of world apocalypse, changing facilities, emergency poo situations (that’s the baby, hopefully not you) you certainly don’t need to worry about how quickly you can inhale your dinner before the baby kicks off. The relaxing vibe of a holiday now has a slightly frantic feel about it.
During the day on holiday when the baby is awake you can guarantee that the minute you go to perch your bottom on a sun lounger, said child has run off in the other direction teetering precariously close to the pool’s edge. You endlessly apply and battle on sun cream as they want to go in and out of the pool, in and out, in and out. Then when you’re as wrinkled as a prune, they want to get back in again. Your only sweet sanctuary is nap time, that short window when you finally get a chance to lay prone for at least an hour but for reasons unknown, now is the time that you decide to go indoors. You check on the baby five times, have a sweep, sort your clothes, read a newspaper, tidy up, flick through the telly channels and then, oh bugger, they’re awake again and you’ve missed your chance! It’s like our brains can’t compute that this is our only free time, we can’t switch off even when we go away!
Evening’s on holiday are another matter. Even once the baby has gone to bed you feel slightly on edge. In between talking you shush your husband, ‘shhhhhh, was that the baby I just heard, shhhhhh, listen’. No conversation can continue without the strange head cocking to one side motion, as you try and listen, one ear on the talk, the other on the non-crying baby. You make excuses to nip back inside and check that the baby is still in their room, hasn’t been kidnapped, that the monitor is still working and that they’re still breathing. Once you’re satisfied that all is okay, it’s then a case of who can drink more than the other, and who can ultimately win at the ‘I’m still asleep’ game the next morning when the baby invariably wakes at 6am. Such fun.
But, and here’s the deal, what does happen on holiday is that you see your child grow in a short space of time. Not physically (although maybe its growth spurt time so in which case yes this!) but socially. You see them get better and bolder at swimming, playing with family, cousins or new friends. Looking like a big kid eating their tea at the table with all the other children and having nice treats like ice lolly’s every day, because its holiday, right? You see them discover new things, be it shells on the beach, the touch of the sea on their toes, amazing fruit on trees, wildlife all around and just that feeling of being outdoors with some sunshine on their little bodies. Yes holidays are very different now but they’re worth it as you get to spend time as a family, as a unit, regardless of how fraught it might be. Possibly the kids’ are the ones who now benefit from holidays, not us but that’s alright, we can let that be the case. It’s all about them now and the memories we create with them and for them. I wouldn’t swap this new situation for the world … okay I might be lying a tiny bit here, a few days with some child free lounger time would be amazing but, I’d miss the little whirlwind and her non-stop busy-ness.