Planning that first holiday with your baby has to have all the organisation of a military campaign, dad Mike Martin reveals
After all the stress of pregnancy and those first few months of parenthood, there’s nothing better than a good old holiday for a spot of relaxation. Or so you’d think. Now, of course, you’ll be taking your little bundle of joy with you, which can cause problems you would just never have thought about before.
Firstly, where do you go? Do you risk taking a screaming baby on a plane and, if so, how far dare you travel? Remember, the apparent advantage of not paying for under-twos comes at a price – namely that you are expected to keep your over-excited offspring on your knee for the whole journey, confined in some bizarre seatbelt contraption that looks like it belongs on a horse.
Or do you hit the road instead, knowing full well that packing the car will take a whole morning? And a three-hour journey will take twice that once nappy stops, food breaks and temper tantrums have taken their toll. Then there’s the question of where you stay. That grotty apartment that was ideal for last year’s lads’ holiday simply isn’t an option. Beyond cleanliness, there are now matters such as stair gates, cots and baths to consider, as well as ensuring there aren’t any obvious perils such as steep drops or swimming pools within crawling distance.
But perhaps the biggest shock comes when you finally reach your destination. When your baby needs two sleeps a day and you are determined to have some form of lie-in, there’s remarkably little time left to get out and about. And if, like we did, you pick a spot where two-hour siestas are the norm, you can find yourself housebound for long periods.
Even if you do make it past the front door, it’s probably still too hot to stay out for long. The evenings are interesting, too. In Mediterranean culture, it’s normal for small children to stay up late as parents eat out and enjoy a couple of drinks. But try telling that to someone whose entire life has revolved around going to bed at seven o’clock. While you’re at it, try explaining to your partner that watching the football in a local bar is more ‘cultured’ than putting your baby to bed. I’ve tried it – it doesn’t work.
In the UK, even going out for a holiday meal with babies brings its own issues. Even in those places that take children, you can spend more time policing noise levels and food-throwing activities than eating your own meal. A new toy buys approximately half an hour, I’ve found, but no more.
By the end of your week away, you could well find that you’ve simply taken your daily routine away with you. Evenings are spent in front of the TV and any chance of that lie-in disappears with the crackle of the baby monitor at around six o’clock. Holidays, it’s fair to say, will never be the same again. There are now a million and one things to consider, which can be stressful. But for spending quality time with your loved ones and making a few precious memories, they still can’t be beaten.
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