parents

"Paradise looks very, very different after you've had a baby."

Hamilton Island
Thanks to our brand partner, Hamilton Island

Paradise looks very, very different after you’ve had a baby.

My last island holiday went something like this: Days packed tightly with back-to-back activity and entertainment, dashing from bike riding to a luxurious massage, grabbing a quick bite to eat before diving into coral-filled waters for more snorkelling. Cocktails at sunset, overlooking the flickering lights of the town below. Dancing with my girlfriends in too-high heels, with dewy make-up thanks to the humid climate and the pace of our moves. Lazy late morning breakfasts, arriving barely a minute before the hotel transitioned into lunch service.

But my little boy, Rafi doesn’t holiday like that.

He’s five-months-old, wants to be constantly entertained, wakes up before dawn and requires more luggage than a Kardashian. So going away with him for the first time, where the purpose of travelling was relaxation, seemed rather ridiculous. After 20 long weeks of being a mum, I was finally getting the hang of things. I was also emotionally and physically exhausted. While the idea of a holiday with my husband was incredibly alluring, the prospect of taking baby with us was daunting at best and downright terrifying at worst.

“He’s five-months-old, wants to be constantly entertained, wakes up before dawn and requires more luggage than a Kardashian.” Image via Instagram @jamilarizvi

Then the fine people at Hamilton Island stepped in and convinced me I could have both. That I could have aspects of the island holidays I’d enjoyed before (which felt so far removed from my current life, they could have been scenes from Game of Thrones) while also travelling with a baby.

I’ll be honest with you: I didn’t really believe them. The thought “Ha, you clearly don’t have children” crossed my mind several times when I was speaking to the organiser on the phone. She was making promises she couldn’t keep, or at least, promises that my little boy would break on her behalf, I decided. But you know what? I owe the lady who booked our trip a mea culpa, an apology and one massive bear hug… Because she delivered on every single promise.

We arrived at the airport on Hamilton Island with a worryingly small number of bags. Travelling with Rafi requires a lot of stuff; travel cot, stroller, baby bath, wipes, spare towels, car seat, lots of ‘just in case’ medical items and approximately 10,000 nappies. Upon instruction from our hosts, however, we’d been told to bring none of this. None. Whatsoever. Our plane landed between towering cliffs and perfect aquamarine water, with my husband looking out the window admiringly and me with a knot in my stomach. You see, nothing compares to the anxiety of a new mother who is away from home with only one spare nappy in her handbag.

Not pictured: Adorable but frustrating baby who thinks breakfast should be served at 5.15am and who required 50000 items of carry-on. Image via Instagram @jamilarizvi

I needn’t have worried. We were greeted by the island concierge, who whisked away the luggage we did have and took us straight to our accommodation. Hamilton Island is only 6km long at it’s widest point, so instead of driving cars everyone gets around on golf carts that reach maximum speeds of about 15km an hour. When our family arrived at the villa, we were met with a scene so picturesque and romantic, it would make the set-designers on The Bachelor jealous. Hamilton Island is absolutely stunning, with a lush tropical landscape, colourful Australian birds everywhere and still, clear, perfect water. The villa was light and airy, with four enormous bedrooms (each with their own bathroom) and a seriously cool outdoor space.

But I had eyes only for the baby stuff.

“Hamilton Island is absolutely stunning, with a lush tropical landscape, colourful Australian birds everywhere and still, clear, perfect water.” Image via Instagram @jamilarizvi

Before the trip, Hamilton Island provided a list of baby items that we might need during our stay and we simply checked off the things we thought we’d need. So when we opened the door to our holiday home we were greeted by boxes of brand new nappies (including the swimmer variety, so baby could go in the pool), wipes and rash cream were stacked neatly in the corner. A tube of Bonjela to soothe angry red gums, a change table and plastic bath sat on the bench. There was a carefully made cot set up in the master bedroom and a pram for us to use for the duration of our stay.

ADVERTISEMENT

Non-parents who are reading these words will think I’ve actually lost my marbles since giving birth. There’s probably some truth in that. But to a nervous new mother, these items are more beautiful than any infinity pool. They are crucial to peace of mind.

We opted for the stand alone residence rather than a hotel room because we wanted to have our own kitchen facilities. I love going out to dinner and indulging in multiple courses but I struggle to eat out at every meal. Having a kitchen on holiday is invaluable – you can just have good ole’ vegemite on toast for brekky and not feel like you have to ‘get your money’s worth’ at a hotel buffet.

My husband and I spent most of our days moving our books, towels and baby from villa to poolside to villa to beach to villa poolside once again. Watching Rafi discover the water was hilarious and heart-warming in equal measure. Children mean that you get to discover the world anew and seeing my boy’s eyes widen in amazement when he saw the biggest bath in the world was adorable. He loved splashing around in the water almost as much as we enjoyed laughing at his shocked face each time his little palms broke the surface.

“Children mean that you get to discover the world anew and seeing my boy’s eyes widen in amazement when he saw the biggest bath in the world was adorable.” Image via Instagram @jamilarizvi

It sounds counterintuitive but our family holiday was enhanced by having some periods of time not spent as a family. The handy little golf cart meant we could escape for a few hours at a time with little hassle. I had two blissful hours to myself at the spa, getting a massage and facial. It was indescribably good. I wish I could travel back in time and tell sleep-deprived Jamila whose three-week-old baby was waking to feed every two hours to feed about that massage. It was a dream. My husband decided to try the same thing, opting for the masculine-appealing ‘sports’ massage. Despite not knowing which end of the massage table his feet were supposed to go, I think he rather enjoyed it too.

My husband and I also spent some rare time alone. We dropped Rafi off at Hamilton Island’s Clownfish Club for a few hours and went snorkelling together. It felt exhilarating to be together, baby-free, in the middle of the day. We were like giggly teenagers sneaking out after our parents had gone to bed. We also had a babysitter spend one evening with Rafi, so we could try the lavish restaurant at five star resort qualia. My mouth is actually watering remembering the array of fresh seafood we devoured, as well as the fruity cocktails which tasted all the more special after nine months of no alcohol.

“The seafood platter at @qualiaresort Pebble Beach restaurant is off the hook.” Image via Instagram @jamilarizvi

Our holiday was fabulous from start to finish but two things stood out to me above the rest. Firstly, it was a largely stress-free experience. We were looked after by a team who understood the challenges of travelling with a little one and went out of their way to minimise those challenges. They didn’t just go through the motions either, they were genuinely invested in making sure we could relax and have a wonderful time.

And secondly, I realised for the first time that I have a family my own. Previously, ‘family’ has always meant my parents and my little sister. But our first holiday with just the three of us – my husband and our scrumptious little boy – cemented in my mind that I have actually formed a brand new family unit. A family who will holiday together for years to come and fill countless photo albums with happy memories.

Have you travelled with a baby? How was your experience?

If that wasn’t enough to entice you to Hamilton Island, these snaps might get you there:

Light blue and pink butterfly illustration. You click, we help. Shooting star illustration.

Mamamia is funding 100 girls in school, every day.

So just by spending time with Mamamia, you’re helping educate girls, which is the best tool to lift them out of poverty.

Thanks for helping!

Light blue and pink butterfly illustration. Girl with pigtails sitting at desk writing in notebook. Row of four books.
Three hands holding books
00:00 / ???