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Family

The horrors and delights of travelling with kids

Posed by model.
It was meant to be two weeks of blissful relaxation in the sun but as Zoe Arnold quickly discovered, holidays are never the same once you have kids.
I always love those articles with celebrity mamas-to-be, where they gush about their pregnancy, proclaiming, "MY lifestyle's not going to change, the baby will have to fit in with ME!" They give me a giggle, as it's so far from the reality of having kids.
My little family has just finished a two-week stint in Bali. This is lucky, and privileged, and I'm well aware of that.
But my God — I'm exhausted. And I am craving the normality of our day-to-day routine, day care included.
A number of my friends wished me a "relaxing" time as I set off to our island paradise. Not the word I'd use.
As we arrived in our villa, jumping straight into the pool, my three-and-a-half year old had an accident of the bad variety almost immediately. She's been toilet trained for a year-and-a-half now, so there was no predicting this.
Every time we took the children out to a local café or restaurant they would turn into feral demon children, running laps around the furniture, whooping with delight as they worked each other into a frenzy.
I became THAT mother: the one people look at with a mix of compassion and dismay, their thoughts reading, "that poor lady, with her 'challenging' offspring".
Mine are not children who have never set foot in a café: quite the contrary. We go at least weekly for a babyccino or milkshake, but all my training was to no avail.
We've travelled internationally before with the kids, but that was while one of them still couldn't move. Finding her legs was like a giant bolt of electricity for my youngest, and she simply can't comprehend "sit still".
So it was exhausting. Constantly being mindful of where the children were, which piece of furniture they were climbing on, whether they could escape from our villa.
But I would do it again, in a heartbeat.
Travelling for me opens your mind to new ideas, to new foods, to new people and experiences.
And the kids weren't always feral. They loved the monkey forest in Ubud (kindred spirits?), the pool was used again and again, and they were made to feel special every day by the generous and kind-hearted Balinese who treated them like demi-Gods.
My girls learnt about offerings to Buddha; that people speak different languages to their own; that we are so lucky to live in a country where drinking water from the tap is something taken for granted.
And we did have a "holiday": we did minimal cooking and cleaning, had beautiful sunny weather and affordable spa treatments when one of us felt brave enough to look after both kids at once.
Travelling with children is not anything like travelling as a couple or alone: you're on their schedules and as much as you might try, they don't want to sample local delicacies and really don't care about discovering art galleries or museums.
It is worth going away, though. I asked my eldest what she had enjoyed most about our holiday as we left for the airport. She looked at me as she said, "playing with you and Daddy, Mummy". And that made it all worthwhile.
What do you think is the best kid-friendly holiday? Do you think it's worth travelling with kids?

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