So it’s no surprise that last week I was in Mexico.
Being a “non-parent”
Public service warning – tequila is baaaaaad!
1. Leave all sense of squeamishness behind – myself and my partner were often asked to accompany his god-daughter to the toilet. At one point she insisted on coming to the toilet WITH me; chatting away as I had a quick wee like we were out to brunch. As a non-parent, this may feel a little weird to you, but honestly they don’t care. Anyone who can take off a swimsuit quick-time and plonk them on a toilet is alright in their books, so you may as well help out and do your bit! You may have to deal with vomit and snot too – so handy supplies of tissues would be a bonus. Let me tell you though that NOTHING will be as bad as when the children’s pool was shut on an afternoon we wanted to use it because some poor parent’s kid had pooped in it, necessitating the whole area to be shut down for decontamination! #awkward
2. Distraction *sometimes* works. Often the kiddies want to do something they are not allowed to do- and the temper tantrums that ensure are legendary. Distraction can help- just offering to take them outside for 5 minutes to “chill” might be exactly what they need to keep them calm. There was plenty of wildlife to see in our resort, and failing that, an iPhone full of interesting holiday snaps can work a treat! Be warned though, kids aren’t easily fooled- and sometimes you just have to give in and let them have their tantrum.
3. ALWAYS have a lot of snacks to hand. I would absolutely recommend all inclusive holidays. In fact, unless you have money to burn, I’d say it was ESSENTIAL while they are young and fussy. Meal times can be hit and miss. Sometimes they want to eat, and well, sometimes all they want to do it lick ketchup off their fingers. The term “hangry” applies to toddlers as it does adults. If you don’t know what I mean, this is when you get irritated and angry when you’re hungry. The snickers advert is a great example of this in action. If you don’t think you ever get hangry- ask your friends because you probably do and don’t realise it! So anyway, snacks. Have lots of them, and when they are getting irritable, throw burgers and it will probably help.
4. Be prepared to get involved in the pool. If you think that you’re going to have time to read in the sun the whole time, think again. Holidaying with friends with kids is never a dull moment, and you’ll often get included in the action, so you may as well go for it!
5. Give the parents an afternoon/evening off to themselves. They probably don’t get that very much at home, so by offering a babysitting service for a few hours to let them do whatever they like, you’re being a fab friend. Go to the pool, the park or softplay, and you will have a very happy toddler as well as a more refreshed Mum and Dad. Don’t forget the rules above when taking on this task though- ESPECIALLY the food.
6. Ensure you have time for yourself too. Holidays need to be enjoyed by everyone, and that includes you! Don’t feel guilty about taking yourself off for a day to have some child-free time. We had a gorgeous massage on the beach with champagne, chocolate covered strawberries and Japanese food for dinner on our “date night”- a much needed end to our holiday!
7. Things don’t always go to plan. Sometimes no matter what you do, the children will not want to be your friend. You’ll feel like you’ve ended their whole world at times- but that’s just how they are. No kid is going to behave beautifully at all times, so just accept it and go with the flow. The crying will stop eventually, and after a long nap, they usually want to be your mate again.
8. Foreign holidays are great places to teach kids new things. Learn a few words in the local lingo yourself, and then set an example. The locals love it, and toddlers sound super cute doing it.
9. Kids are so keen to do what the adults do. Be it food off our plates, or alcoholic beverages. The bar staff were only too happy to make a “cocktail” or two using crushed ice and colourful fruits. It makes them feel so grown up, and at least keeps them happy for a moment or three.
And Finally –
10. Don’t be judgy. Being a parent is tough. I used to tut at people with kids in supermarkets who kicked off and threw wobblies in front of everyone, or get annoyed when a child is screaming it’s little lungs out on a packed, sweaty flight. But this is parenting at its toughest. There isn’t much you can do with a stressed-out baby other than weather the storm. When one of our kiddies was having a plane meltdown, another couple with a child came and offered a lolly to her. Not only did it calm her down, it taught the other child about sharing and looking out for others. Win-win, AND it melted everyone’s heart.