Things have changed somewhat in terms of how we plan our holidays. Now, when we say we are going “on holiday”, we actually mean “We are going on an expedition.” It entails lists, careful packing and planning – how many toys can we squeeze in the carry-on luggage and how many snacks can a 16 month old need in a 12 hour flight (of which he should be sleeping most!). How many transfers can we endure and do we really need the stroller or can I carry a 13 kilo toddler and hand-luggage? Yes, it is the most incredible experience to be able to see the world with a child (I’m sure it gets EVEN more interesting with more), but let’s be honest. One no longer has the luxury of lazing about in a bed that you don’t have to make until 10:45 and then running down to grab the buffet leftovers. Now, we are the first people at the buffet (usually at around 7am). Until, we realised that travel with a toddler involves a paradigm shift. “5 star” means being able to leave the little one with the grandparents while sneaking out for a movie and popcorn.
It also means embracing that we are not going to be visiting art galleries and museums for 3 hour stretches. It means that petting zoos and parks are where we find ourselves, enjoying the fact that a holiday with a toddler entails going with the flow and not trying to do “what we used to do.” Things have changed and that’s okay! I must admit, I am seeing the world with new eyes, enjoying the little things and realising that our expectations as parents are the ones we need to be wary of. I expected our son to be as amazed by a peacock as I was, but instead, he barely looked at it and instead ran after a pigeon. I was hoping to get the perfect picture of him caressing a goat, but instead, he found the rolling hills in the petting zoo more fun and I ended up chasing him, carefully avoiding goat poo and enjoying his laughter as he found his own games more entertaining than mom’s scheduled fun 🙂
Take a deep breath and let your children set the schedule on holiday, if you can afford that luxury. Sometimes, it’s best to enjoy their pace. My favourite piece on children was written by the Lebanese writer, Kahlil Gibran in his famous “The Prophet”:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.
It makes sense to me more and more day by day. Lots of love,