The first holiday with my baby
Federico F - Father and avid traveller,
November 20, 2011
My first trip as a father was to Cyprus and against my will. Our son was only 3 month old and I was afraid of anything you might think of. It took us ten years to have him and -once born- I would have gladly put him inside a crystal castle and see him grow old. Well, not exactly, but you get the idea.
My wife insisted on going away for a week and relax a little bit after all the stress of the last months of her pregnancy and the first months after his birth. I conceded that we did need a change of air and a place where both of us could get relaxing massages, have a sauna and generally spend a good time. But I insisted on staying only for five nights, not seven. The reason was my fear of being away from home for so long.
It turned out to be a mistake, a miscalculation, an error of judgement. Such mistake is difficult to justify because a friend of mine had told me long ago that we should travel as much as possible during the first nine to twelve month while baby is still "user friendly". There are a number of reasons: (a) as long as the baby does not walk, it is easy to keep her under control without too much hassle; (b)provided she is well fed, the baby sleeps a lot more than when she is only a bit older and will want to go out and play or any other reason for exertion; (c) parents won't need to take too many toys with them for the journey. Just a couple with no need to take anything big either. I notice that I have to take more toys (and bigger) than those I had to take for the last holiday. And when the little one turns three years old you will have to hire a caravan only to store the toys he or she is asking to take with them. Do ensure, though, that you are taking her comfort object (e.g. a small blanket, a teddy bear), but that would be all while they are only a few months old. Why I didn't listen to my friend was a moot point by the time we embarked on our "adventure".
The flight to Cyprus was great even in Economy Class. Our son slept almost the whole time only to wake up to get some milk and then fell asleep back again. When we arrived at the Aphrodite Hills Resort we were received like VIP guests (even though we were not), extremely warmly and with a lot of care not only for our well being but for our baby as well. Cypriots are one of the most family friendly people I've seen in my life. They really know how to make you feel welcome while being polite and focused very much on providing an excellent service. Moreover, the beauty of Cyprus is not only the sunshine, the sea views and the fact that rain is not a normal word in its dictionary, but also the history and its archeological treasures. Which means that you can either stay put at the hotel, visiting the Spa every now and again (while your other half takes care of the little one - and vice-versa!) or go out, rent a car, and visit historical monuments of high importance in the development of western civilisation. We did go out for a couple of hours four of the five days of our stay in Cyprus and we enjoyed all of them.
Upon the third day in such a magnificent hotel and with a top class service and attention, I realised we should have stayed for - at least - seven nights. The baby was glowing, his face expressing full joy and his skin showing the benefits of the sea air. But that was not all. The mother of the baby was glowing too and one could see her fragile mood of the last few months becoming, how shall I put it, smoother perhaps, and definitely sweeter towards me. But it was too late; even though I recognised my mistake and wanted to amend it, we couldn't change the flights and the hotel was fully booked anyway. I felt guilty for having followed my own fears and for making my family pay the price for it. Surely not the end of the world but clearly something that could have been avoided should I have listened more carefully to my friend's advice and - of all people - the mother of my own child.
We still spent a great time and the trip helped me gain confidence. I also realised that our baby was also enjoying himself. At the end of the day, other than being properly fed and clothed, babies want to be with their parents and feel their warmth and love towards them. Equally, I found how important it is for the mother to take a break without leaving the baby for more than a few hours at most. For her, it was actually the best of both worlds, since she was able to take some time for herself and go to the spa, while being very close to her baby at all times. Since our trip to Cyprus we've travelled to many more places (even much farther away) and the experiences we have acquired are unforgettable. But those are stories for another day.
Father and avid traveller