Cue romantic music, gourmet indulgences (sans alcohol, cured meats and soft cheese), a pile of books (and no, I don’t mean pregnancy books or baby bibles!) and the thought of waking up groggy with the late morning sun on your bed… But what about your other kids?
As a mum of three, I’ve reached day-two on a few family holidays and wondered why we’ve bothered. The washing doesn’t stop, the sleeping can get worse and being away can make meals more complicated.
We’ve always holidayed together before a new baby. In fact, my husband and I didn’t even have a date night when pregnant with our third child. While we were so excited about meeting our little girl and starting the next chapter of our family life, we also wanted to cherish every last moment of the previous chapter with our two boys.
For mum of three Sally Kane, having an adult-only babymoon was an absolute necessity. “I’d had a really rough start to my third pregnancy with serious health concerns. We really needed to regroup, sleep and spend time as a couple.” The timing also coincided with a milestone birthday for Sally’s husband, Richard.
An important consideration in deciding to babymoon alone or as a family (sometimes called a “familymoon”) or do both, is your older children.
“While expecting a new baby is exciting for big siblings, it is also a time of considerable change in their lives. Children can feel displaced and worry about being left out,” says paediatric occupational therapist, Debbie Isaac.
Debbie recommends that parents minimise changes that affect their older children, particularly later in the pregnancy, but doesn’t rule out parents getting away as a couple earlier on. If your kids are familiar with being left with Granny and Pa, they probably won’t blink when you head off again. Sally and Richard took their five-night adult-only getaway in Byron Bay when Sally’s parents could stay in their house. “Grannie Annie and Pops have looked after the boys many times and the boys absolutely adore them. They kept to the school and kinder routine as usual.”
The Kane’s also visited Samoa as a family while pregnant. They chose Samoa because it was a new destination for them and they wanted the holiday to be memorable. They spent time together swimming, sailing boats, hunting for crabs and snorkelling. The family also used the kid’s club a few times so Sally and Richard could rest, read and enjoy couple time.
A familymoon can also help prepare your children for the new baby. Parents can spend more time with the kids, which can help reinforce how special they are and create life-long memories. Parents can also talk about the baby coming and take a big brother or sister book to read together too.
Here are my top five tips for an “all-aboard” babymoon:
1. Identify your wants (and needs!) as individuals, as a couple and as a family
Do you need rest? A romantic dinner? A day spa? The beach/swimming? An adventure? To chill together as a family?
Plan so it happens:
• Choose the right destination and accommodation with the facilities on site or in proximity (kid’s club, nanny service, pool, beach etc).
• Agree to share the getting up and sleeping in/kid duties.
• Use technology for a lie-in together (yes, you’re on holidays, so some TV for the kids is okay).
• Plan meals. It’s often impractical to dine out frequently with young children, and it’s not ideal to spend day-one of your holiday dragging the kids around the local supermarket. Order groceries online to arrive soon after you do – food and snacks are key to happy kids!
2. Add some great family activities!
Swimming is my number one favourite family activity on holidays. Even if not all children are competent swimmers, the toddler in your arms is lighter in the water!
Adding picnic food and a coffee to a trip to the playground is my number two! We visited the Nelson region of New Zealand when pregnant with our second child and spent every morning at a sunny local playground with coffees in hand.
3. Routines stay “king”
Stick with normal meal and sleep times as much as possible as kids like certainty.
Changing time zones and long flights can play havoc with routines so consider this when choosing your holiday destination.
4. Get your timing right (for mum and the kids)
Your doctor can advise when it’s safest to travel while pregnant. Also consider when you will get the most out of the holiday – many women feel very tired in the third trimester. Airlines also have pregnancy requirements to be mindful of.
As minimising disruption is most important for older siblings closer to the birth, consider holidaying earlier on in the pregnancy.
5. Be grateful for the little things
No school/kinder/childcare drop-offs, no lunches and no cooking – hooray! Sunshine and fresh air – yippee!
An “all-aboard” babymoon can be happy (and restful) for all! Happy travels!
By Lauren Gardiner. Lauren’s book, baby + me, is available for purchase from selected stockists and online at www.memobooks.com.au.