Last December, The Husband and I made some colossal “rookie parent” holiday mistakes with our nine month old. These were the major errors, which we try to remind ourselves of, before planning holidays with kids:
1) We went to three destinations:
We went to Cape Town for five nights; Hermanus for 17 nights; returned home for two nights; went to The Seychelles for six nights. Total packing and unpacking time: an estimated 40 hours or the equivalent of exactly one normal work week (outside of France). And those 40 hours exclude shopping for the holidays…
2). We stayed in a five star hotel
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for luxury accommodation. The problem was that the establishment we chose only altered its “no children under 12 policy” a few months before we arrived and it soon became clear that this was an economic decision to increase occupancy levels during the recession – strangely enough, they weren’t longing for screaming kids to adorn their secluded swimming pool area. Not only were there obviously absolutely zero facilities for babies or children, there were also naturally no family rooms on offer. Booking a second five-star room for The Princess and her night nurse was not an option, so we waved goodbye to our then, full-time nurse and said hello to 17 virtually sleepless nights with an unsettled child and her clueless parents in our lovely five star suite, overlooking the ocean.
3) We thought we’d survive sans nanny and sans changing station for 18 days
After three days of carrying a nine month old and solo nappy changing on a hotel bed, I felt about a hundred years old, possibly older. I thought I had somehow cracked a rib or pulled one of my intercostal muscles in my sleep. I struggled to breathe if I tried to walk even slightly quickly – that included walking around town with a pram, so I was honestly not attempting to walk particularly quickly at all. I couldn’t laugh because it hurt too much. By around 9am every morning I had lower back pain which only abated after lying on my back for the night, but then it would start up again the next morning. I honestly thought I had somehow sustained a severe rib-cage injury. It took me several days to figure out what was wrong. The Husband then tried to take over carrying The Princess as much as possible when he wasn’t cycling. A few days later he was complaining of severe pain in his left arm… Basically, we made a great, full-time, parenting duo.
4). We took a five hour flight to the Seychelles leaving at 1 in the morning
Even at nine months old, The Princess was not one to miss out on action. We arrived at the airport at around 8pm, believing that she would shortly fall asleep in her pram. No such event ensued. Instead, she reveled in all the action around her and got progressively more and more excited during the long wait in the check-in queue. At about 11pm, after approximately 90 minutes of queuing and many more minutes getting through security and passport control, we arrived at the lounge where our friends and travel companions’ 11 month old had been sound asleep in his pram since 8pm. She finally allowed herself to be pushed to sleep in her pram for 30 minutes before we had to board the flight. This cat nap was precisely the second wind The Princess needed. During the five hour flight to Mahe, The Princess and I pretty much enjoyed an all-nighter.
The return journey from the Seychelles equally eventful. Our pick-up for the airport was at 6am. As though sensing that we had an early wake-up ahead of us, The Princess decided to pre-empt things, and woke up – for the day – at 2:30 in the morning. When it became obvious that she wasn’t going to go back to sleep, The Great Pack began, lasting approximately three hours, until nearly 5:30am – close to perfect timing for our pick up. Then, just to liven things up a bit, The Princess had started to show signs of gastro-like symptoms towards the end (fortunately) of our holiday. She had one enormous vomit (could have been way worse, of course) and developed diarrhea. Subsequent laboratory tests revealed that she had contracted not just salmonella, but also some type of ecoli. (In defence of the beautiful Seychelles, these two lurgies can apparently be contracted anytime, anywhere…)
We did, however, get one thing very, very right during last summer’s holiday. We took a nanny with us to the Seychelles. At the end of the holiday, The Husband turned to me and said, “We should never have wasted money taking a nanny with us.”
Me: “You’re joking, right?”
The Husband: “Of course not! The cost of booking a separate room, the flight, all of that…”
I was incredulous. I thought it was the best money ever spent. To this day, I would forgo new clothes, new shoes, manis, pedis, holidays and hairdressers for three years if I had to choose between these things and holidaying with a nanny. I wasn’t too sure how to get this across to The Husband, so I tried a different tack:
“Taking a nanny on holiday with a baby is value for money. Owning seven bicycles – that is a waste of money”.
(I think he secretly agrees – not about the bikes, of course).