When I was pregnant with my first baby, my husband and I flew to Thailand for a belated honeymoon. Our first honeymoon had been cancelled as there was so much snow on the runway at Heathrow (beautiful backdrop to our wedding photos, but a bit of a hiccup in our plans to escape as husband and wife) – so there we were, nearly a whole year later, surrounded by giant vases of purple orchids as we checked into a hotel on the island of Phuket.
We ate exotic fruit for breakfast and then spent our mornings on sun loungers – and it was on one of those sun loungers that I felt a baby kick inside me for the first time in my life. I took pictures of my just-showing bump with a stunning turquoise vista behind it. And when the clock ticked round to lunchtime, we made our way over to the pool bar and ate bowls of Thai soup and noodles, washed down by mocktails and flowering cups of tea.
When we were full, we headed upstairs to our suite so I could have a nap in a king size bed with crisp cotton sheets and feather pillows – and afterwards, we lay on the sofa and watched films back-to-back, flicked through magazines, and ordered drinks decorated with cocktail umbrellas until the sun started to set.
At the time, I felt like we were wasting those afternoons by not exploring the island or heading out on a speedboat. I felt guilty and a bit embarrassed that we had clocked up so many hours sprawled on a sofa. I didn’t mention that part of our holiday to many people enquiring about our trip. It felt like a dirty secret that no one would really understand.
But three years later, I realise it was utterly blissful and possibly the best holiday of my life.
I don’t regret those lazy afternoons one bit. In fact, I would like to give my past self a high-five for clocking up those hours on the sofa. It was a very wise decision indeed.
So with the memories of that lazy holiday in my mind and the gift of hindsight, what advice would I give to couples expecting their first child?
This is it.
Feel no guilt about the time you spend relaxing before your baby arrives.
Sprawl on sofas, watch a marathon of films, go for long, lazy lunches, and watch the sun set from the comfort of a king size bed.
Don’t rush around trying to see things and do things.
Don’t try and cram too much into the time you have left as a two.
As the truth is that you can still go to those places and see those things when you have a baby in tow. The thing you will really miss is the chance to relax.
You will miss the alone time. You will miss the quiet. You will miss the chance to crawl under the duvets for a mid-afternoon nap. You will miss watching films without a small person demanding it’s changed to an episode of Ben & Holly or Peppa Pig. And you will miss pouring boiling water over coffee granules and knowing you will make it to the bottom of the mug.
Holidays don’t work like that when kids come into the equation.
Life doesn’t work like that when kids come into the equation.
And you will miss these things, you really will.
This advice is more useful than tips about night feeds (they are painful, but they pass), or advice about how to secure the perfect nappy (you will work it out by day two), or advice about what and how to feed your baby (there are people far better qualified than me to give you those tips).
Because as much as I love my boys (and life is so much better with them, it really is!) I am so jealous of myself on that sofa, in an apartment, on an island called Phuket.
And believe me, as much as you will enjoy and love your journey into parenthood with every ounce of your being, you will be jealous of your past self one day too.
So lap it up.
Put your feet up.
And enjoy every second.