The Easter holidays are finally over – finally!
British parents have been gripped by the court case of Mr Platt, trying to overturn the decision of a fine for taking his kids out of school for a (no doubt educational) trip to Disneyland. The fine was £120. I have an opinion on this. But first…
My honeymoon – ah, it was wonderful. We stayed in a luxurious beach resort in Thailand. A room with a private swimming pool, boat and canoe trips into Yao Noi, the most amazing fresh fruit and vegetables, incredible food. It was truly heaven.
It was also for three nights.
Because, dear reader, we were already with child. ‘With’ meaning that our one-year-old was staying with grandparents. So our three nights were a mix of joy, elation, relief, guilt, extreme tiredness and regret. When they were over, I had to be dragged onto the boat back to the mainland by the Thai kickboxing instructors.
I try to avoid giving advice to the youth of today but I will drop this pearl: don’t have kids before your honeymoon. It will ruin it. Don’t even conceive on a honeymoon! Use whatever protection you can get. There’s plenty of time for that after. Because once you have kids, ALL holidays will be crap.
I give you an example. Up until 2015, we were living in Japan. Our departure was looming and so I decided to treat my family (and, primarily myself) to a night in the fantastic Tokyo Station Hotel. Oooohh!
This hotel is stunning. In the heart of the commercial area of the metropolis, a stone’s throw from the Imperial Palace and surrounded by luxury apartments, skyscrapers and shopping malls. Its Victorian brick structure is somewhat incongruent surrounded by modern convenience, yet it has an understated elegance. I imagined spending a night of luxury here. The room didn’t disappoint. The huge queen sized bed, a bath you could actually stretch your legs out (a rarity in this country) and a rain shower! Rain. Shower. Rain. Shower.
It sounds wondrous and it should’ve been. But I forgot we had two kids in tow. A long bath loses its appeal when you have to share it with two kids. And a rain shower isn’t the most convenient ways to clean off a kid with a dirty nappy. Unfortunately, no romance took place in that queen-sized bed. The lack of sleep was caused by constant kicks in the head from my youngest. I lay there, regretting the whole stupid idea and promising myself that as long as I have little parasites to take care of, I will never try to do anything nice.
And so to Mr Platt. Apparently he has spent £12,000 fighting this case. I admire his chutzpah. Of course, in public I’ve been championing his cause: it’s freedom, innit, and have you seen the prices of Centre Parcs during the holidays?!
But secretly, I wonder if it’s all worth it? Because holidays with kids will always be crap. It really doesn’t matter if it’s Disneyland, Legoland, or Sunderland. My kids will be running around having a great time and I’ll be chasing them, thinking how wonderful it’d be to come here ‘just the two of us’. My advice for Mr Platt would be if he has that money, he should hire a term-time babysitter and go to Disneyland with his wife, while his kids are enjoying the so-called best years of their lives. It’d be a shame to drag them out and make them go and shake hands with a plastic mouse.
Our poverty-stricken half-term involved walks in the woods, walks in the park, walks in the woods again, more walks in the park, walks to the library and walks back again. I realised that I really didn’t need a break from the kids so much as a walk with them. Plenty to explore and entertain them. Like climbing half-fallen trees in the woods, running away from a disturbed wasps’ nest and staring curiously at mating frogs in the canal.
A lot of walking. But walks are free. And parks and woods. And libraries … for the meantime. Enjoy them while you can. Because someday, the kids will fly the nest. And then you’ll be stuck having amazing holidays in paradise.