Joanne Gould on what happens when you actually - shock - go on a cheeky little holiday unencumbered by little people...
Lucky enough to have bagged yourself some child-free vacay time? Well done you. But look, it’s not as easy as serenely reclining on a sunbed, pina colada in hand, is it? Holidaying alone can be fraught with worrying, unnecessary guilt and more than a few unsolicited opinions from others – even if the kids will be at home as usual with their dad. Here’s what we know…
1. You will cook and freeze each and every one of your child’s meals before you leave
The thought of your nine-month-old blithely munching on whole grapes, or never seeing a vegetable for the duration of your time away is just too much to bear. And your toddler not having his favourite homecooked chilli? Trust us, it’s enough to get you batch cooking up a storm.
2. Someone will say, ‘Well it’s good that you trust him to look after them.’
Yep. Apparently, you should feel appreciative that the father of your child is occasionally willing and able to perform the shopping, night-feeding, school-running duties that his baby-making role actually requires. Which brings us onto…
3. People will make many, many references to the film Daddy Day Care
If a film was made about the female equivalent, it would just be 90 minutes of some poor woman’s everyday domestic life doing a big Tesco shop and preventing toddlers from chewing on iPhone chargers, which does not make for a fun trip to the cinema. But here, it seems the prospect of a man (Eddie Murphy) caring for his own child whilst the mum goes to work is a remarkable one! The scariest thing is that this film was only made in 2003, yet some people’s childcare attitudes are so many decades older.
4. Mum friends with less amenable partners will hate you with the fire of a thousand suns
It’s been so long since they’ve had any time to themselves that their minds are running away with the thought of you enjoying peaceful lie-ins, greedily reading multiple books undisturbed and being able to drink a bottle of the local plonk without fear of ramification. And they can’t bear it. ‘Oh, I could never bear to leave my two even for a night!’, she’ll trill brightly. Sure. You keep telling yourself that, love.
5. You will still wake at 6.30am every day
What were we saying about peaceful lie-ins? We don’t know about you, but straight away in the new role of parenthood, our body clock just naturally readjusted to ensure we wake up with the larks daily, kids or no kids. Over three years in, we know this still happens whether bedtime is 10pm or, er, 4.30am… Perhaps pack some of your little one’s black out blinds.
6. You will miss them
Fully expect to point out kittens, Spanish Paw Patrol t-shirts and particularly tall slides to your bemused child-free friends in the absence of your brood. They’ll smile and nod politely as you explain how Freddie/Theo/Max/delete as appropriate would love this particular pizza if only it weren’t for the peppers, and hand you a restorative glass of cava if you start getting teary about missing bedtime.
7. You won’t miss them
Whisper it! But, seriously, you’re with them 24/7 365 days a year: it’s ok to need a break and to let your brain think of things other than when the next bottle is due, or what kind of cake you should be making for the umpteenth bake sale this month. They’re having an absolute ball without you, so shake off any misplaced guilt and concentrate on remembering who you are without them for a few days.
8. People will assume you’re on a business trip
Because it’s completely out of some people’s comprehension that you’d actually choose to go away without your children. If we’re 100% honest, we’ve let the nursery pick-up crowd believe this one.
9. You will spend hours looking at photos of them on your phone
At some point during your break you will convince yourself you can no longer remember what any of your children look like. Cue falling down an Instagram hole scrolling through months of old pictures trying to reinstate their gummy smiles and cheeky faces.
10. You will need to buy more data
That new EE mobile data roaming allowance is handy but we’ll wager you’ll need to buy more; those bathtime Skype calls don’t come for free, after all. Swot up on deals before you head off, or be prepared to search out the nearest café with wifi and brave the locals’ quizzical looks as your littlest darling debuts their latest musical stylings for you.