You see… I’ve got to admit – I’ve never really been the biggest fan of children. Don’t have any myself, don’t ever plan to, try and steer clear of them as a general rule. Too noisy, too smelly, too… well, kiddish. But recently when two very good friends of mine were able to swing a last minute trip to Ibiza – en route home from a business trip elsewhere in Europe – I immediately offered to host them in my humble two-bedroom abode. But it wasn’t just Mr and Mrs C who were coming to visit – they were also bringing along the two little additions to their family who I’d never met in the years we’d been apart. I gulped nervously as I sent a text message that read: You’re all more than welcome to stay with me.
Everyone I knew thought I had gone totally mad. An entire week with two children under the age of five, living in my home along with their parents – keeping in mind I also work from home. But that’s just the kind of thing you do for your besties. You put your kiddie prejudice aside and start child proofing your casa like a crazy person. After all, if they’re the offspring of two amazing people I love, they surely couldn’t be all that bad… right? Never ever have I scrubbed my tiles so hard. Never ever have I cleaned the insides of my cupboards and drawers with such fervour. Never ever have I had to hide away my breakable prized possessions. Never ever have I hired baby capsules and car seats and tried (in vain) to fit them in the back of my car. Never ever have I called friends with kids to find out what kind of toys I should supply Little Mr M with to make him like me. Never ever have I spent so much money grocery shopping, trying to pre-empt what kind of food would make little people happy, despite the fact Little Miss L was still bottle feeding. Yes, I may have gone overboard, but never ever, EVER before have I considered myself a family friendly Miss W!
But dammit I was going to make those kids love me if it was the last thing I ever did. In the end I was completely blessed in the little person department, as it turned out Mr and Mrs C have two totally adorable and well behaved little muffins who I (gulp again) fell in love with the instant they batted their little lashes, lisped a little in a munchkin voice and goo gooed a dribbly smile at me. And, as it turned out (if I do say so myself!), I am quite good with kids. This could be due to the fact I am pretty much on their level, and my DVD collection consists of Disney movies and teen flicks and my bedroom is chock-full of plush toys. Once we’d all settled in – mum, dad and bubba in my bedroom, Little Mr M in a fun makeshift camp in my living room and me relocating upstairs to sleep in my office – to our new dwellings, it was time to make a plan. I’ve never been one to make a plan, generally steering away from most commitments (even lunch and dinner dates or RSVPing to events), preferring to make decisions and plans spontaneously. But as it turns out (obvs all the parents reading this know this already, but it was a shock to me), when you’ve got kids, you’ve also got to have plans. Bottles have to be sterilised, bags have to be packed, toys need to be gathered up and – here’s the tricky part – babysitters need to be booked. To find a reliable, trustworthy, qualified babysitter on the island isn’t as easy as downloading an app and pressing a button like you do in the city. Babysitters here are in hot demand, and so you’ve got to book them well in advance to ensure you can get them to watch over your little ones on your chosen nights (or days) out. Cue Kids in Ibiza, who I knew we could trust and were able to supply us with super lovely English speaking nannies on a couple of different occasions so we could enjoy some grown-up catch-up time minus the mini-mes.
But while we were supposed to be enjoying said grown-up time, I started to find myself worrying. Were Little Mr M and Little Miss L OK with the babysitter? Should we call home to check? Should I not have another glass of wine in case I might need to drive somewhere in an emergency? Should we leave early in case there’s traffic and we don’t get home by the time the babysitter has to leave? Relax… my friends assured me. Kids are fine. Kids adapt. Babysitters know how to handle them. But I was new to this kiddie game and I was nervous… and of course, they were right, as when we arrived home, both kids were fast asleep and safe as houses! As for the five other days without childcare, it was all about finding family friendly places to go. Now this is where my experience in researching and writing about Ibiza came in handy. El Chiringuito, BEACHOUSE Ibiza and Pikes at Ibiza Rocks House all came in handy with their cool little kids’ corners to keep the niño entertained with bracelet making, face painting and games (all of which I wanted to have a go at myself), and every single restaurant we went to went above and beyond the call of duty to make the kids comfy when they got tired, finding extra cushions and pushing chairs together to create mini-beds. They obviously do this all the time, but since I usually try to block children from my vision, I just wasn’t aware of it!
On the beaches, I learned that the language barrier between Spanish speaking kids and English speaking kids is no barrier at all when it comes to playing. Whether it was at Talamanca or Cala Bonita by day, Cala Conta or Experimental Beach Ibiza for sunset, or dining in the quaint village squares by night, Little Mr M had no problem making little friends his own size – it seems the language of fun is international. Kids can even get involved in Ibiza’s nightlife (to a safe extent). The island’s hippest new party WooMoon had a kids’ club and my BFF Paris Hilton hosted a special kids’ edition of her Foam & Diamonds party – who knew you could go dancing and bring the little ones too? And for those on more of a wellness tip, there’s also kids’ yoga and dance classes, acrobatic workshops with the Cirque du Soleil crew and special creativity workshops at hip new gallery space La Nave in Salinas. All if this existed under my nose and yet I’d never had a little person to use as an excuse to go along.
I saw so much of my wonderful friends in these two little teensy tiny people, and for the very first time ever since leaving my homeland over ten years ago, I felt a pang of sadness about the distance between us, knowing I wouldn’t be there for their future birthdays or soccer games or ballet recitals. I had only just met these little people and I already loved them so much – I wasn’t ready for them to leave. What if they forget me? Of course, I bought them presents (which in true four-year old style were broken in five minutes and in true five-month old style, dumped on the floor unceremoniously) and gave them cuddles and watched cartoons on the iPad in bed with them in the hope they’d always remember that special Ibiza holiday at auntie Miss W’s house… but I also knew it couldn’t last forever. I drove like a grandma to the airport – partially because I was always driving slowly for safety when the kids were in the back and partially because I was trying to make them miss their flight – and when we got to the check in desk, I started to cry like a baby. More than their baby! Not only would I miss my friends more than I ever had before, I would miss their little offspring too. Dare I say… it was one of the best weeks I have ever had in my Ibiza life! With one last lispy munchkin voiced goodbye and a final dribbly smile, they were off on the next leg of their adventure… and I was off to reclaim my bedroom, unpack the sharp objects and breakables, pluck the tiny lego particles out of my sofa and let all my friends who are parents know there’s a new ‘family friendly’ version of me! [Editor’s note: Before anyone thinks Miss W sounds like she is getting clucky – fear not. She was seen fleeing the scene of a dirty nappy on multiple occasions and was more than happy to pass her newly beloved smalls friends back to mama or papa the minute they started crying. Order has now been restored in the universe.]