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LIFE WITH SIX KIDS – AND A HOLIDAY WITHOUT THEM!

I have this mum I follow on Insta, she jet-sets around the globe on holidays, in fact, makes her living from it.  She has two kids, sometimes the kids are there, but mostly they’re not.  It’s both perplexing and intriguing.  How does she do it?

It’s likely more complex than it appears, because the truth is, leaving any number of kids at home, whilst you head away, requires a magnitude of prep and of course the more kid you have, the more prolific the task.

We often go away for a small break here and there (by car, with kids in tow), but as our wedding anniversary came around this year, we really wanted to celebrate BIG…. and ALONE; a-week-without-kids kind of big and alone. 

You know that I love my kids, but to be honest, the closer the prize of this break came, the more unbearable they became to me. Were they intentionally torturing me with their neediness?  I fantasised about my husband and I hauling up the coast, never to return, sporting suntans, bikinis and boardies.

You might be a jet-setter yourself, or perhaps used to leaving your children behind for work commitments but I’m not.  In fact, I haven’t been away from all six kids for more than a night or two.  Ever. Would the Pacific be as blue as it was in my dreams?

PREPARATION

Can I say from the get-go, that the breadth of prep required to leave home for a week without kids, is entirely enough to warrant a vacation in itself?  

In the lead up to this vacay, I was freezing meals like a mother awaiting the birth of a newborn, because, for this particular jet-setting adventure, we would have a dear friend move-in with our kids who would need to be ready to manage all of ours PLUS hers!

There were lists…. and they were almost endless: who needed to be picked up from where and by whom; who ate what and what not; which kid had what on and what to wear; who took which medication and for what at what time…. 

Which behaviour to look out for and how best to deal with it; who was capable of what and what they needed help with; who would try their best to un-hinge you and why; and who could be relied upon for steady back-up…  you get my drift.

Then there was the prepping of the kids themselves.  I clearly laid down the ground-rules in particular with the teens and reminded the little ones that ‘just because mummy isn’t here, doesn’t mean the rules change’ Hmmm…

AND WE’RE OFF…

Our cab arrived at sparrow’s fart and we gave each other a little high five before snuggling down in the back seat together.  So entirely brilliant, how did we not do this earlier!?

Both hands-free as I boarded the plane, I busied one with a coffee and the other held my lover’s hand.  I carried a smaller-than-usual tote over one shoulder – not a sultana or wet-wipe to be found.

Three and a half glorious hours of sitting.  No responsibilities or squabbles to intercept, no eye-spy, no toilet-herding, thwacking or shushing….

I inwardly grinned as I reclined my chair and commenced flicking through my magazines.  I watched as those-desperate-enough-to-pay-for-it were delivered their foil-covered food tray compartments and I fleetingly drew parallel with each of the kid’s compartmentalised lunch boxes that would need to be filled each day whilst we were gone. 

Before long, we had arrived – my only interruption having been the wheels waking me as they hit the tarmac at Cairns airport. 

THE DESTINATION

The destination was amazing and to add to the joy there’d be no washing, ironing, shopping, cooking or cleaning for the week.  I literally blessed the dear soul who made our bed each day and left a fresh selection of towels and soaps.

The next six days were spent lilting between one pool and the next, totally oblivious to the presence of children holidaying around us.  I forgot myself entirely when I scoffed at one small boy who splashed me as I lay baking in the sun.

We held each other’s hands instead of holding onto a small child’s, it was bliss.

We swam when we wanted, walked when we felt like it, changed our plans when we desired to, skipped meals, ate double, wiped no small bodies with sun-burn cream and kept watch of no small child in any swimming pool.

There was minimal contact back home.  Enough to know everyone was alive and well, but not much beyond this.  We were lucky to receive a special and detailed email from the school though. 

‘Your 8-year-old spent time in the reflection room today for writing ‘’F**K’’ in his spelling book’.  Full of rest and refreshment, my husband replied ‘I do hope he spelt it correctly’.  I, of course, assured the school he did not learn this from home!

We walked peacefully through the rainforests and dined un-interrupted in fancy restaurants.  We swam in fresh-water lagoons and had a facial together (hilarious, I know).  I even experienced my first way-too-expensive day spa, culminating in a full-body exfoliation and Vichy Shower – two words for you: DO IT!

For several days I didn’t even hear the noise that other people’s children made, I don’t even recall seeing any….

Until day five.

The children dive-bombing and splashing away in the pool this particular day looked simply adorable and my husband started spying out pregnant women for me to go talk to (because he knows I love new mums) – a little creepy in retrospect.

I started looking longingly at other people’s feral kids and was heard exclaiming:

‘Look at that dear little one with hair in bunches!’

‘Did you hear what that little boy just said to his grandma?’

‘Look at that darling little one picking his nose… ‘Did you get it, kid?’’

Needless to say, our time away was incredible, full of relaxation and fun together.  It was an apt reminder that I love spending time away with my husband more than anything.  He is wonderful and I’m so thankful for these years together and for the celebration that this time afforded.

Turns out though that I’m a mum-schmuck after all.  My feelings for home grew, as did the desire to see those little faces I’d left behind for the week.

We arrived back to Sydney airport late on day six.  The big kids were up and we were so pleased they were.  We were bowled over with hugs and kisses and appropriate ‘I missed yous’, I swear they had grown.

The little ones were tucked up in bed and had been asleep for a couple of hours when we arrived… we vowed to keep them sleeping until morning but went in and snuggled their warm little faces and told them how much they’d been missed instead.

The next morning we were woken by three hyperactive small children very early and were greeted later by the three sleepy teens.

Jet-setting is fun and perhaps you’d get used to it, but for me, home is where my heart is.

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