This time last year when I was pregnant and sitting on a cold, wet beach in Dorset, I made the other half promise that he’d take me away to a romantic place abroad just the two of us once the baby had arrived. After careful research we found the perfect boutique hotel overlooking the beautiful volcano in Santorini. So far, so good, right? Roll on March this year. The credit card was ready, flights had been found and then my mum dropped the bombshell - she didn’t feel comfortable looking after the baby…
After a major princess strop (can I still blame baby hormones?) we decided to make it a family affair & take the baby and 5 year old for the week. I mean, how wrong could it go?
Having just landed back and with the experience fresh in my mind, here’s the reality vs the fantasy. “Take the kids on holiday they said, it’ll be fun, they said”. If you’re taking a trip with tots anytime soon, prepare yourself - because we clearly didn’t :)
Time difference = lie in
The fantasy: European times mean that you’re two hours ahead. The kids take this on board, waking up, at their normal time (6am) which is 8am in your holiday destination. Bliss.
The reality: The baby wakes up at 6am, European time. When you try to get her back to sleep she screams and wakes the 5 year old who shows his displeasure by having a tantrum that lasts ALL DAY. Shoot me now.
You make magical memories
The fantasy: You take the mini-me’s on a road trip to beautiful locations, pointing out views to the older kid that he’ll remember for years to come. You time it around the baby’s naptime so she sleeps and wakes up just as you get to your destination.
The reality: The older kid refuses to look at the scenery and has a strop when you prise the iPad away. He asks the inevitable, “Are we there yet?” question every 5 minutes, which coupled with the baby’s overtired screams, creates memories alright - just the, ‘remember when we were stupid enough to…’ kind.
You bond over family meals
The fantasy: You find a quaint little restaurant overlooking the sea, where you order yummy local food and chat about loads of cool things with the older kid while the baby sits happily in her highchair.
The reality: There are no highchairs (no, really) so you spend the whole time with the baby on your knee, who smears food all over your clothes. Then, she gets bored. Cue screaming, and one of you ending up leaving the restaurant to wheel her around in her pram. The other has a romantic meal with the 5 year old.
Sunshine means naptime/tantime
The fantasy: Who doesn’t love a siesta when it’s hot outside? The behaving baby and adorable kid will blissfully have their afternoon naps after a lil’ splash in the pool, while you laze around. You grab the olive oil - because tanning time is serious business - and lie around in the sun for a good few hours. By the time the kids wake up, you’ve gone a nice
red bronze colour and are refueled for parenting duties.
The reality: The kids are all creamed up, armbands are on & you’ve finally managed to fit the parasol to cover the baby in her pram. You lie back, grab your book & start to read...and relax. Half way down the page, the 5 year old decides he needs the loo, the baby kicks off the parasol & all hell breaks loose… Because, we all know they can’t sit still for 5 minutes… *Googles sunbed shops in Santorini*.
You snap beautiful photos
The fantasy: Kids smiling on the beach, baby’s first paddle, family shots against beautiful backdrops. Your photos give David Bailey a run for his money & take centre stage on your mantlepiece when you get home. Pat on the back, you’ve nailed it.
The reality: The pool is freezing - that’s blue on the baby’s lips, the 5 year old has yet ANOTHER tantrum when you ask him not to bury his sister in the sand resulting in fire- fighting rather than photo snapping and your other half has developed a ‘Chandler’ face when it comes to having pictures taken. Well the views were nice anyway...
So, there it is, the realities of holidaying with kids based on very real experiences. Would I do it again? Absolutely. But this time I’d pick a place that’s far more kid friendly (hindsight is a wonderful thing). Oh and I’d also pick a time that I’d won the lottery and able to afford a nanny/babysitter/big financial bribe to the grandparents. #yeahright