We don’t have any rules because we are on a perpetual holiday. We live a carefree, hedonistic existence free from societal restraints and pressure of work and school. Obviously.
However, if I was to try and live a manageable family life, we might have a few things that we have to do so we don’t go completely nuts and throttle eachother/ divorce.
Apart from the obvious ones (wear seat belts, Be kind, don't play with cobras, etc) We thought you might like to know what these are.
1. Screen time.
No Ipads apart from at the weekend, otherwise your brains will dissolve and ooze out of your ears. Unless we are on a plane, where the confinement would make everyone go nuts in which case Minecraft becomes a gift from God.
The other exception to this is when we have no TV, are exhausted and us grown ups need quiet or our heads will explode with any more questions.
Also if we want to Facetime family or friends.
Or if the parents needs to update Facebook, look at google Maps, book a hotel or check into a flight online.
Or you want to listen to an Audio book.
ONLY then, Ipads are allowed.
2. Be sensitive and be kind.
Don’t flash your cash. When your phone/ ipad/ computer is worth the same as many people’s annual salary, it’s not cool to show off. Bored? Play cards until that becomes boring- then maybe talk to eachother..? This applies to us adults too- and God knows, there have been times we have needed Google Maps to navigate a city.
You are being asked to have pictures taken. All. The. Time.
Yes, it’s annoying being stopped and told to smile, but it doesn’t take much to be in a photo when someone asks nicely- so don’t be like Justin Bieber circa 2015. One minute of your time might mean a lot to the other person and all humans deserve courtesy, so be kind.
If the person has physically dragged you across the floor to force you to be in the photo however, (Hanoi) or tried to humiliate you by dressing you in frilly hats (Agra) you can totally say no. With bells on, and I’ll join in too.
Holding your own boundary firm in a kind and courteous way is a life skill many of us are still working on. I'll do what I can to help.
3. Wash your hands
Hygiene is very important- OBVIOUSLY children, at the age of 5 & 8 you already wash your hands after the toilet every single time. For some reason, your fingernails are still black and the youngest tells everyone proudly that he hardly ever washes his hands but somehow has not got sick yet. I doubt my occasional dousing with alcohol hand gel does much, but it might help, so we persist.
4. Food and Drink: battles and compromise.
In my optimism before the trip, I imagined that fussiness with food would dissipate with the exotic new smells and tastes that would be presented to you. This was clearly insane- why would you try new things when the one thing you have control over is what you put in your mouth?
I can’t always give you familiar food- but I’ll try. In return, we really would like it if you managed some fruit, vegetables and protein that isn’t soaked in oil, ok?
Only filtered/ bottled water unless you get hosted by some beautiful people who live up a mountain, slaughter a goat in your honour and give you water from the mountain spring. Then cross your fingers and hope for the best.
No meat unless you can see a fridge or evidence (or lack thereof ) of said animal. Being vegetarian never hurt anyone.
Sugar is a real issue in most of the world, so to keep healthy habits we say absolutely no fizzy drinks apart from every other day- or more often if it’s hot and the juices are just as sugary as the fizzy pop anyway.
Definitely not Coca Cola though, as it's the Devil's work- unless a Hilltribe elder gives it to you- or you reach the summit of a mountain. It’s miraculously ok then.
When Mummy is trying her best to achieve a good price for an item, DO NOT exclaim loudly how much you want it and really REALLY need it. Sometimes you need to pretend that you don’t actually want the thing to get the thing, otherwise That Thing doubles in value. This may result in NO coconut/ nice hotel room/ t-shirt. Sorry.
6. Hand holding
It’s so annoying being grown-up 5 and 8 year olds and having to hold hands with Mummy and Daddy- but particularly in cities, the alternative is being crushed by a vehicle or being shouted at by a local who will (probably?) be telling you to hold your parents hand. So let’s just be safe until we have space to run free again, shall we?
7. Don’t get lost.
If you do get lost, stay calm and DON’T MOVE. Find a police officer/ person in uniform or another Mummy- or any woman will do, to be honest. Show them the phone number we have written down and put in your pocket and we will be with you soon. Easy.
8. Talk to strangers.
Go ahead, we do it ALL THE TIME so telling you not to seems ridiculous and also a bit rude to the hosts of the countries we visit.
You have the right, however, to NOT talk to a stranger if the stranger makes you feel uncomfortable in your tummy.
Actually going anywhere with any kind of stranger is absolutely NOT OK so make sure we can see you/ know where you are at all times and ALWAYS stay together.
Give us loads of it! It’s ok not to want to hug/ kiss everyone who wants to pinch cheeks/hug/ kiss you though.
You’re amazing, everyone can see that! But if you don’t like the attention, stay close or let us know you don't like it and we will stop it happening.
There are loads of animal attractions everywhere and we won't be going to them- not unless they are endorsed by animal welfare organisations anyway.
People who exploit drugged and stolen animals (or indeed humans) are not people who we will give our money to and I am so proud that you understand this. Unless our kayak has capsized, we have no shoes and need a lift back to the other side of the island in a horse and cart...
Basically we just make it up as we go along, but everyone does that right? Here's to just being kind, staying healthy and hoping the rest falls into place.