AN OPEN LETTER TO NEW PARENTS PLANNING HOLIDAYS
Especially if you're snobby about all-inclusive holidays...
Are you booking a family holiday? If you're thinking about a city visit or chic mini-break, Celine Bell has an open letter for you...
Dear new parents,
There's no use pretending. I laugh at you. Because now, while your baby is tiny, all smiles and sleep and with no urge at all to crawl, of course you can do a mini-break to Barcelona. Your small bundle will coo adoringly at the handsome man bringing you tapas and chilled sherry off the Passeig de Gracia. Ok, you might be woken early, but you know you can eke a nap out of them after a morning on the beach and then you can have a long lunch, taste the local wine, and upload a smug photo to Instagram.
But just you wait. As soon as they can crawl or toddle, your holidays will take a turn for the worse. And you too will find yourself googling all-inclusive kid-friendly resorts. Those people with four bulging suitcases, two kids, a pram and tired eyes queueing to check in at Gatwick on a charter flight to Greece? That'll be you, too.
Maybe I’m a wuss, but there is no way I can jump on a budget flight, packing minimally to avoid hold luggage charges, squishing four people into a tiny room, in order to explore the gothic quarter and pick up some Zara bargains. And actually, I’m no wuss: I took a crawling seven-month-old with diarrhoea to Australia to meet his Aussie family (judgey parent disclaimer: we only learned he was ill an hour into the flight.) When you’ve done 40 nappies in 24 hours across two flights and seen your husband leave the flight head held high, even though he was covered in crusty puke - having at one point joined you in the galley for a quick, desperate, sob - you can do ANYTHING. But why would you?
'We got back that little bit of our marriage that had been lost amid the arguments.'
Because when your toddler isn't the only one screaming at breakfast, it helps. Because when a resort provides a cot, a steriliser and a box of Peppa Pig DVDs, it helps. Because when you aren't alone in ordering a beer at 11.30 (you've been up since 5am, ffs) it really, really helps. On our holiday (Greece, all inclusive, fabulous) the kids joined up, like a pack of feral dogs, and roamed the resort looking for ice-cream and swimming pools. The parents could supervise in shifts, drinking where appropriate (NB, it was always appropriate. Other parents didn't judge. New holiday friends, I love you). And there was childcare that offered all the crafting, painting and messy play that bores me rigid (sorry kids). So my husband and I could have a cocktail together and chat. Obviously we only talked about our children. But we talked about how amazing and funny and sweet they are, because a couple of hours off a day (which we rarely get, as our parents live in the Midlands and Sydney) gave us back our chat, our time, and the little bit of our marriage that had been lost amid the arguments over who is the most tired, where Mr Dinosaur is, and who has wiped the most bums this week (NB it's me. It's always me).
So apologies to Thomas Cook, Mark Warner or Neilsen. For years I have looked down my nose at you, but now I realise how friendly, helpful and well equipped you are. And to my friends still enjoying the sleepy-baby-short-trip-to-Paris days, see you at Gatwick in the tour operator queue in a summer or two. First beer's on me.