This is for all mummies out there. I think it’s time you took a break. Not just any break, but a girlie break, with a girlfriend (or three, depending on how you roll). Yes, it’ll be difficult to arrange. Yes, your husband/mother/mother-in-law/aunties/uncles/every-Tom-Dick-Harry-Jane-Sue-Harriet might try to ‘psycho’ you out of going. But you owe it to yourself to put your foot down and go have a good time SANS kids and husband.
It so happened that my long-time girlfriend from highschool days had kids about the same time I did (no it wasn’t planned that way), she lives in Edinburgh, I live in London, she needed a break, so did I, so operation Paris, Baby! was born. We convinced our husbands that it would be in their interests to have wives who were sound of mind, and that really, a weekend without us would be perfectly fine. Good thing we have husbands who actually CARE for our children rather than BABYSIT them (yeah, you know what I’m talking about). That was the easy bit. The hardest bit about going away without your family is the GUILT that ensues. You start doubting yourself. You start questioning your motives. You start thinking ‘gosh am I a bad…’ and here’s a word of advice. SHUT THAT B**** UP BEFORE SHE GETS A CHANCE TO PSYCHO YOU. It’s bad enough we have to deal with people’s perception and judgement but when YOU ARE GIVING YOURSELF A HARD TIME, you might as well throw in the towel and not have fun and wake up resenting your husband and kids FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.
So, at one stage everything was organised and we were anticipating our getaway (or was it more the chance for uninterrupted sleep?) as gleefully as a kid with unlimited allowance in a candy store. Yes, every once in a while, we second guess ourselves (what can I say, motherhood and guilt go hand-in-hand) but we slap our internal naysayers to submission and soldier on. Be very aware that your kids won’t care that you’ve been looking forward to this since the day they were born. They will find every opportunity to derail your plans, for example by falling ill the day you’re supposed to leave. The question you then ask yourself is: can my husband handle this? If the answer is a resounding yes, then get your butt out of that door and into that taxi that will take you the the airport where you’ll board that plane to Paris. DO NOT LOOK BACK.
Where We Stayed:
If it was up to me, we would have stayed at a decent 3 star hotel, nothing to write home about but nothing to complain about either. But Ms T had more refined taste so we stayed at a lovely, quaint 5 star hotel instead. It was centrally located, the customer service was excellent (did they cater to our every need? yes indeed) and the facilities were new rather than dated.
How We Got Around:
Ms T flew in from Edinburgh and I took the good old Eurostar at an extremely decent price. We used the Metro to get around Paris.
What We Did:
Ms T and I had a bloody brilliant time in Paris. It wasn’t our first time there, and we took it easy. We did a bit of window shopping. We went to the Christmas Market to get churros. We climbed the Arc de Triumphe to get a good view of Paris, wandered around the Lourve, the Seine River and did a walking tour.
If you’ve not been on a free walking tour with Sandeman New Europe then you’re missing out! You basically pay what you feel the tour was worth. The tour guides are usually enthusiastic and knowledgeable people who are passionate about the city.
As it was pretty free and easy, we punctuated our sight-seeing with meals at a couple of fancy French restaurants that did not allow children in. I got to order whatever I wanted to eat without considering my kids’ allergies . We took leisurely walks along the Seine River without having to worry about where the next nappy changing facility was at. We walked up stairs, into crowded areas without thinking about how “buggy friendly” it was going to be. We took solid dumps (not together obviously) in the morning without an audience of little people staring at us. We stayed out past our kids’ bedtimes because we COULD. We slept in!!!
What We Ate:
Nothing beats brunch in the morning. Unless it’s PARISIAN brunch in the morning. My all-time-favourite croissant with scrambled eggs and smoked salmon in a fancy schmancy French cafe just because…and did I mention the delicious hot chocolate?
We had lunch at Arpege Restaurant and it did feel at one point that we might never be hungry ever again. The lunch offered us close to 15 courses from starters to desserts, eclectic tastes of organic vegetables and things that were ‘smoked in hay’. I could barely pronounce the names of the dishes, let alone hazard a guess of what might have been its original ingredient. It was then it struck me that my humble tastebuds were not ‘cultured’ enough to appreciate fancy French food! It was a lovely experience nonetheless but one that I would not repeat for a long while. My eyes met Ms T’s eyes over course number 11 and it was obvious we were wondering WHERE THE HECK IS THE DESSERT I CAN NOT EAT ANYMORE!!!
Our dinner a La Chateaubriand was a lot more enjoyable as the dishes were simpler (although there was something that was smoked in hay, again). I quite enjoyed the meal (perhaps it was due to the presence of meat??), especially the cheese puffs. I know you’re thinking, cheese puffs?? Well they were yummy! I highly recommend booking in at this restaurant before it receives its Michelin star and prices sky rocket!
We had other delicious French concoctions worth a mention – Pierre Herme macaroons, mille feiulle, snails (super yums), good old beef bourguinon and proper French Fries. Might be high time to start organising our next girlied weekend Ms T!
To the rest of you mummies out there: time to give your husbands a chance to flex their childcare muscles and level up. If you have extra help around the house in the form of a live-in helper or grandparents or babysitters or nannies, what are you waiting for? The kids will be fine and you’ll come home a new woman. Book that girlie weekend now!