A new moon: How parenthood redefined my idea of a holiday

You know you’re tired when you put on your headphones, press play, hear the music start, notice that you forgot to plug your headphones into your iPhone, get confused about how you could possibly be hearing music if your headphones aren’t plugged into your iPhone, gaze in awe at the bare headphone plug in your hand, start to think that you must be witnessing some kind of miracle, notice that everybody else on the train is staring at you, wonder if they can somehow sense the miracle too, feel bonded to your fellow commuters through the shared experience of a supernatural event, imagine yourself traveling the world and recounting the story of this day to adoring crowds of wide-eyed believers, remember that your iPhone has an external speaker, and realise that you’re blasting Dancing Queen through it.

I really need a holiday.

I think it’s time my wife and I went on our honeymoon.

My wife fell pregnant with our daughter three months before our wedding. Daunted by the prospect of planning a wedding and incubating a foetus at the same time, we decided to risk our daughter’s eternal soul and postpone the wedding until after she was born.

One year later, we tied the knot. On the morning of our wedding day, my wife discovered that she was pregnant with our son. We had already decided to delay our honeymoon until a couple of months after the wedding. Now we needed to delay it even further. We didn’t want our holiday hamstrung by morning sickness and dietary restrictions, so we decided to put it off until such a time that we could enjoy it to the best of our abilities.

Almost two and a half years after the original wedding date, and with our son now on the downhill run to his first birthday, that time is rapidly approaching. And just as our priorities in life have changed, so too have our priorities for a honeymoon.

Our original plan, concocted before we had kids, had been to go to America. With thousands of dollars to spend on flights, and many, many hours to spend in transit, we wanted to make the trip worthwhile by squeezing in as much activity as humanly possible while we were there. As a result, our itinerary would be necessarily intense. Now, with a couple of years of child-rearing under our belts, an intense itinerary doesn’t sound as tempting as it used to, so the honeymoon has evolved into a different kind of beast.

First and foremost, it represents an opportunity to get away from our kids. As much as we love them, we’d really like to spend a week or so pretending they don’t exist as we try to recapture briefly a slice of our childless past. They’ll be well looked after while we’re away, of course. We plan on leaving them with their grandparents’ phone number.

Aside from shirking our parental responsibilities, our primary objective for this holiday is to rest. Sleep is the greatest luxury we could imagine at this point – as sad as that might sound – and we’d like to make it a focus for our trip. Now, the trick to a good sleeping holiday is to minimise distractions. So visiting other countries is out. The temptation to leave the hotel room and experience another culture would be far too great. We’d feel guilty about travelling all the way to America, for example, and then lying around in bed all morning when we could be out admiring the world’s biggest whatever, or eating something out of a box, or joining a line to get a ticket to join a line to get a body search.

Ruling out international travel leaves us with two choices; domestic travel and space travel. My wife isn’t allowed back into space, for reasons I can’t divulge right now, so domestic travel it is then.

After considering all the options, we eventually settled on Melbourne as our destination. Melbourne is far enough from home that we won’t be tempted to rush back for anything less than a four alarm fire, and we’ve both spent enough time there in the past that we won’t feel bad about sleeping in and ignoring all its attractions. Even a relaxing spell at an idyllic beach resort would have brought with it feelings of obligation to check out the reef or learn how to windsurf. A familiar and accessible city like Melbourne is a perfect relaxation destination for us because we won’t feel any pressure to take advantage of all the wonderful things it has to offer, but we’ll have the option of doing so if we feel that way inclined.

So maybe we’ll hit a few bars and drink and talk as grown-ups do. Maybe we’ll go to an actual cinema to watch a movie featuring actual actors instead of animated animals. Maybe we’ll wander down to a local cafe or restaurant and indulge in the luxury of eating our food when it arrives, rather than attending to trouble-making children whose impeccable sense of timing always seems to have them prising the lid off the salt shaker at the exact moment that your plate hits the table.

Or maybe we’ll just sleep. And sleep and sleep and sleep.

In summary, our dream holiday right now is a childless couple’s standard weekend, and not a very interesting one at that. And you know what? I’ve never been as excited about a holiday in all my life.

Has parenthood affected your travel expectations? Leave a comment and tell me all about it. And don’t forget to subscribe for more hard-hitting parental commentary delivered direct to your Inbox or RSS feed.

3 Responses to 'A new moon: How parenthood redefined my idea of a holiday'

  1. Glenn Murray says:

    I think you’ve just told every parent’s holiday tale. Definitely ours!

  2. Alicia Laing says:

    You are hilarious Phil! Great read.

    We did the world tour with the small one in tow… too many parks and not enough bars (the drinking kind not the playground type). We then did Hamilton Island with the small one in tow and spent the first two nights dealing with all-night screaming from ear aches. I now understand the market for “couples getaways”.

    • Phil says:

      Thanks Alicia.

      I suspect that if I were to take my kids along on a world tour right now, the all-night screaming would be coming from me.

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