A few weeks back we were invited by good friends to join them at their family’s chalet in the French Alps. Well, as another friend said when I told her, You never say no to the Alps.
So we packed up our little seven month old and her not-so-little supplies (I guess we’re still trying to figure out the packing-light-with-a-baby thing) and joined them there, with a stop off in the beautiful town of Colmar on the way, and then a four-hours-longer-than-planned drive through a snowstorm for the last stretch. We arrived in the dark, carrying our sleepy girl in from her car seat, unpacking the thousand bags from the boot, and collapsing a little exhausted into bed.
The next morning we woke up to this view…
That morning the four of us took our coffee up onto the balcony and sat in the sunshine chatting, all the while I was pinching myself that I actually got to stay here and enjoy this beauty.
The week was a lazy mix of playing in front of the fire, wandering down into the village for cheese-based meals, and roasting the occasional marshmallow or two (or more…).
The chalet was perfect. The village was lovely. The mountains were stunning.
Rasmus and our friend went skiing one sunny day, and Kaya and I headed up at lunchtime to meet them for a snowy picnic with a view all the way to Geneva.
It was really a lovely week. And I was offline the entire time. I’d half-thought about going offline for the week anyway, and then we arrived and there was no wifi in the flat, so it was decided for me. My phone remained upstairs for most of the time, functioning only as my camera occasionally.
Here’s what I realised during this week:
Holidays are a whole new experience with a baby. Of course, I already knew this would be true, but it’s one thing to know it, a whole other thing to experience it at 5am when your little girl is very definitely AWAKE, but your wonderful hosts are very definitely not, and would like to remain that way for a few more hours please.
Holiday with a baby still involves middle of the night wakings. It still involves stinky nappies. It still involves the near-permanent thought process of figuring out when she’ll need to eat next and do you actually have any food in the fridge that she’s allowed to eat. It still involves breast feeding and spit ups and drool everywhere coz girl MUST be teething even though there is no sign of them because that much saliva is ridiculous. It still involves a cranky baby when her nap was too short. It still involves finding creative ways to entertain her in a snowed-in chalet with limited toys (kitchen utensils for the win!). It still involves early nights because, hello, 5am start tomorrow!
So in many ways, it’s not as restful, not as rejuvenating as the holidays of my pre-baby days. And I can either let that upset me and ruin a week in one of the most stunning places on earth. Or I can embrace it, embrace this new season and have a great week anyway.
That looks like eating copious amounts of local pastries (thank you breastfeeding as the perfect excuse!). That looks like dining in every evening with homemade crepes and local pasta dishes and ALL THE CHEESE. That looks like long lazy breakfasts with multiple cups of coffee when baby girl goes down for her morning nap. That looks like loving how sociable your sweet baby is, how enthusiastically all the local French Grannies greet her as she toddles around the cafe with her Daddy at lunch. That looks like breastfeeding at the top of the mountain through multiple layers of clothes. That looks like breathing in her warm baby smell when she falls asleep in happy exhaustion on the way down in the cable car.
Here’s what I also realised: It was good to have a break from being online. It was healthy to reset all my habits around my phone, to not have the temptation to go online when I should be playing with my girl, to not waste time on social media when there are other things I wanted to do during her nap time.
But truly, in this often-stuck-at-home, frequently-overwhelmed-and-confused, honestly-often-bored season, my phone keeps me feeling connected, feeling stimulated, feeling involved.
There’s a right balance to be found, of course, and too often I’m in danger of allowing my phone to become an extension of my arm. But also? I am learning good habits. And with those good habits in place, my phone has the potential to improve my life, make me a better mama, keep me feeling motivated and strengthened in this tough-but-wonderful time of life.
And also – I get to snap awesome moments like this one…