The Husband and I find ourselves in splits whenever we remember the first ever holiday we took with Kidlet. We lived in Zurich then, and a rather long weekend came about, somewhere around Kidlet’s fourth month birthday. There was nothing much we could do to avoid travel. As you know, to be in Europe and not to travel during a long weekend is a travesty. Besides winter was approaching and traveling would only get more difficult in the Alps.
So we took out the map and figured out the closest town that was out of town. Yes, we still wanted the comforts of urban life, thank you – so no log cabin in the mountains for us. Which basically led us to Basel – a one-hour train ride from Zurich, and in a hotel just hop-skip-and-jump away from the train station. Paranoid? You underestimate us.
We had booked for ourselves a ‘duplex’ room because a child who cannot crawl much less walk needs space! So we paid significantly more for a marginally larger room divided by paper-thin walls and a rickety staircase. We arrived and spread out all the baby paraphernalia on every visible surface – diapers, bottles, warmers, changing mat etc. And then immediately bolted out to stock up on any necessities from the nearest pharmacy and general store. And yes, we were technically just an hour away from home!
What followed was a weekend of ridiculous measures. We took Kidlet out for baby walks, timed between feeds and nap-times (Which amounted to what? 30 minutes in a day!). We walked her around the most un-adventurous circuit of train-station, hotel and main-street – roughly a stretch of less than half a kilometer. And since getting her out was such a challenge, the husband and I made the ultimate sacrifice: We took turns to go out! Oh, it was hilarious, we took turns to go out and see the same things, which were mostly a doll’s museum and a bookshop!
I think Kidlet happily slept through her first holiday and maybe it was for the best – else her melodramatic parents would never have ventured out on a holiday again!
Fast forward to yesterday when we got back from Goa. I think I may have underestimated clothes requirements for the kid, this holiday. But then, she really didn’t notice it that much. She was too busy loitering around the beach, play-area and whatever it was that took her fancy. And honestly I don’t think I spent one minute of my holiday fretting about how to entertain her or agonizing over any such what-ifs and thens.
How did that happen you ask? How did we transform ourselves from freak-every-minute parents into take-it-as-it-comes ones?
Honestly. It came slowly. The realization that our holidays could not be held hostage by fears. Could things go wrong? Sure. Indeed they do – more often than not. We’ve spent one miserable holiday in Goa holed up in the room, patting down Kidlet’s fever as she suffered a scary hand-foot-mouth infection. Flights back were fully booked. On one holiday to Sri Lanka, I spent my time acquainting myself with the pharmacies and doctors of Colombo as both Kidlet and her Dad lay prone with fever in the hotel.
There were also the missed flights and last-minute cancellations, which made us, return home morose. Holidays that, well, just did not takeoff!
I have come to believe that the essence of a holiday lies in not holding yourself down. To expectations, to plans – because look what happens to the best laid of them. As we leave our everyday lives behind, we need to let go and see where our travels lead us. Children actually make it easier to let go. Let them lead the way. See how they don’t really care if you got reclining seats or a free room upgrade. And they usually won’t notice if their parents forget to pack extra underwear or sunscreen – as far as they are concerned au naturel is the way to be!
And more pertinently: what’s a family album without a goofy-traveler section of its own? I can assure you that Kidlet will have a ready repertoire of travel tales to tell by the time her parents are too old to travel and would rather huddle around a fire and talk 🙂
Nidhi Dorairaj Bruce is a Freelance writer from Mumbai. With no formal education in Parenting, she has been getting on-the-job training ever since her daughter, affectionately referred to as ‘the kidlet’, arrived on the scene 5 years ago. On Twitter, you can connect with Nidhi @typewritermom