Mama Holiday: Kids are great, in small doses

“Little bastards.” That’s what I said about my children to a random guest at a Fijian resort last week.

I didn’t mean it. I mean, my children are wonderful and delightful and perfect ALL THE TIME. Aren’t yours?

Of course, this statement is a lie.

Kids are great, in small doses.

Which is what we usually get, with child care/schooling/dance parties (depending on their age) to break our contact hours into manageable chunks.

But on holidays, it’s 24/7.

Actually, more like 1440/7 because, sometimes, the minutes seem like hours.

At the Sofitel Denarau, I overheard one long-suffering parent, wrangling his two-year-old at 10am, say to his wife, “Is it too early for a beer?”

That’s why kids’ clubs were created: to prevent rampant alcoholism.

But guess what? We Australians are too committed/loving/insane to use them to their full capacity.

The general manager for Australia at Carnival Cruise Lines, Jennifer Vandekreeke, says she had to rethink the operation of the ships’ Kids’ Clubs here, because of the different culture.

“American parents are happy to dump and run, but Aussies like to do activities with their kids,” she says.

Sure, we work hard; we want to spend quality time with them.

But, at the risk of sounding like Yoda, “Me something learn this week”.

Kids’ Club equals sane mummy. Or daddy. Or nana and pop.

It’s almost as if we make a pact with ourselves.

“Right. I’ll go hard in the pool, chuck them about, do some somersaults, then we’ll learn how to scrape a coconut, play Monopoly, collect shells on the beach, bounce on the beach trampoline, and, afterwards, drop them in Kids’ Club. For an hour.”

That’s all fun and games. But inevitably, someone hits their head on the side of the pool, cuts their finger on the coconut scraper, cheats at Monopoly or gets stuck under the trampoline.

Subsequently, you feel terrible about dumping them, and buy ice-creams instead. Or you become like us, hovering around the Kids’ Club like helicopter parents.

“Wow! You’re gonna feed the fish? Awesome!!!” to disdainful looks from the tweens.

There is a solution. The new Nanuku resort near Suva offers individual nannies for your kids from 8am to 9pm. We read books while Taj played in the pool and Grace painted coconuts, under the watchful eye of the marvellous Miri.

This is no budget option. But it bought out our stocks of guilt.

Which, frankly, we shouldn’t be feeling anyway. We deserve down time; and we’re better for it.

Read that book, get that massage, paddle that kayak.

Afterwards, there’ll be less “Little bastards!” and more “Heavenly creatures!” (And, I suspect, a decreased desire to indulge come cocktail hour.)

Fortunately my fellow traveller empathised, patting me on the back and saying, “Yep, I said the same thing about my two little bastards this afternoon”.

Ya gotta laugh.

What are your kids like on holiday? Are you the type to ship them off to the Kids’ Club or the equivalent?

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