Before we has a baby, holidays were ephemeral wisps of sheer luxury. Cocktails from airport to airport; limitless amount of time for lounging, exploring and drinking cocktails; bars, spa treatments and shopping; cocktails.
Holidays now are different.
Packing, is different. On previous trips, there was careful planning of outfits, selection of co-ordinating heels, finding a book for the flight and putting together a playlist. This year, I corralled a Biffa bin and charged frantically through Mothercare and the Boots baby aisle until it was full. Then, because this was not nearly enough stuff, I wrapped a buggy in bin liners and parcel tape, filled a Gruffalo Trunki with toys, wipes and nappies, then filled my own flight bag with toys, wipes and nappies in case we somehow became separated from the trundling Gruffalo. At some point I remembered I had packed nothing for myself and swept everything from the top shelf of my wardrobe into the Biffa bin.
The journey, is different. The idea of a few hours on a plane with nothing to do but sit, read and watch a film used to be a bore. Now, obviously, I would swap both of my hands and all the equity we have in the house for six uninterrupted hours. This year, the flight was spent watching Peppa Pig (spoiler alert: they jumped in muddy puddles) before changing my daughter on the floor of a filthy public toilet after she soiled herself with immense gusto the minute we joined the passport queue.
Eating out? Well, the food is still just as good, but there is considerably less time spent lingering over a bottle of something fizzy resting in a gently perspiring ice bucket. But if you enjoy bribing your child into silence with an endless supply of breadsticks because they are the only thing she doesn’t look at suspiciously before firmly saying ‘no’, then you’re in luck!
Swimming pools on holiday with a baby probably aren’t very different, except that instead of suspecting you’re swimming in urine, you know for sure you are.
Walks, rather than being an opportunity to explore the coast or countryside, are now an opportunity to play a kind of sunshine Jenga with the positioning of the parasol on the buggy, while saying in a panicked voice around every 14 seconds ‘I think she’s in the sun, we need to move it again’.
Suncream is less about skin protection and more a kind of extreme sport where the two of you pin down your toddler and try to coat it in a layer of factor 50+ before it slithers away and merrily spends the required 10 minutes of soaking-in time transferring a white film to every soft furnishing it can find.
All of this makes a holiday with a baby sound appalling, which of course it isn’t. A holiday with a baby is wonderful, and I’d go away with her again right now if it weren’t for things like ‘paying the mortgage’ and ‘not getting sacked’. It’s just that instead of returning home refreshed, tanned and replenished, you return home feeling like you spent the past week at some kind of military bootcamp, with a weird graze on your shin caused by a giant inflatable crocodile.