How do you spend your honeymoon with a baby?

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First it was Japan, then it was three weeks traveling around Mexico, trekking through jungles to Mayan ruins and lounging on deserted beaches until our skin felt crunchy from the sun and sea. The plan was that we would save money after our summer 2020 wedding and then use the Christmas break for an adventurous honeymoon in a country my husband and I had never been to before. We envisioned several weeks spent moving around, exploring new places, interspersed with stays in budget hotels, where we sleep until we naturally wake up and soak in the bathroom for hours, lazily planning the next chapter of our life together.

But the three-week adventure trip never happened, and neither did our wedding, or at least not quite as we had planned it. If there’s one thing the pandemic has taught me, it’s managing expectations, especially when it comes to organizing weddings. In the end, we postponed our big day not once but twice, and after our 2019 engagement, we finally tied the knot in front of a hundred friends and family at a 14th-century monastery in the Suffolk countryside last year. Among the guests, a surprising addition to the seating plan, was our 18-month-old son, who was born during the second lockdown. The wedding was as much a meet-and-greet for him as it was a celebration of our love, which has now doubled in unimaginable ways.

Despite the intense desire to be the type of parents who would honeymoon in the Himalayas with their children strapped to their backs, full of life and adrenaline, the last year and a half has honestly been enough of an adventure; We were tired and, as it turned out, these parents. So, when it came to planning our honeymoon between writing our vows and choosing an outfit for the newly appointed ring bearer who could barely walk, our expectations shrank once again. It has to be a European break (the shorter the trip, the better) and we’re going for five days max: the mere thought of packing for longer while I make the final touches for wedding day threatens to bring out the bride in me.

The view from Morro Beach House

The view from Muro Beach House
Morrow Beach House

We briefly considered signing up for the first all-inclusive, kid-friendly resort (hello, kids club). But as a well-travelled colleague and father puts it: “It’s so much fun going on vacation with your kids, but you don’t want to go on vacation with anyone else’s kids.” My husband and I have always loved going to the Mediterranean islands, so we quickly settled on a villa vacation (friends insisted the villas and kids were a great match) on the Balearic Island of Majorca. I was once before on a cycling trip with a group of women I had never met who loved exploring the island’s forays on two wheels. My husband, who’s more of a beer drinker than a cyclist, has never been more enthusiastic about Mallorquin’s culinary scene of fresh seafood and pastries rich in almonds and cava.

One of the things that made us instantly fall in love with Mallorca is that it’s a place of views: it boasts the majestic Tramuntana Mountains, which act as the island’s backbone, as well as a stunning coastline, dotted with secluded coves and calm, crystal clear water. We were headed to Playa de Muro on the northeast coast, a 45-minute drive from the capital Parma and one of Mallorca’s best beaches, known for its shallow waters, golden sands and easy-to-access bars. Once we got over the expected wrangling over installing a child seat in the rental car, we found ourselves cruising all over the island, capturing first impressions: views of ancient olive groves and windmills, and the welcome chimes of sheep’s bells.

honeymoon with baby

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Our home for the week was the Muro Beach House, near Pollensa and Alcudia. One of the few private properties located right on the coast, the home’s back garden was a private beach with soft white sand and a king-sized daybed framed with white linen curtains which we quickly identified as the base of the family. As soon as we entered the James Bond-worthy marble living area and looked out on the view, ‘the sea’ was exclaimed by our son, who kept saying it every time he saw the stunning aquamarine waters behind our sandbar. . His constant wonder – at the sea, on the sand, in the huge shower room – was infectious, and made us see things through his eyes with a great appreciation for it all. We may not have been able to lie down or relax in the afternoon sun, but we soon began to realize that our honeymoon with a one-year-old was slowing things down in a very good way.

As we settled into life at Muro Beach House, we woke up (at 6am) to the sun rising across the bay, thankful to our friends who recommended our villa vacation. They were right – we immediately felt like locals and slipped into a pleasant routine of swimming in the deserted dawn, making sand castles then quickly dismantling and heading out on morning excursions to explore nearby towns before the May sun got too hot.

Cala des Moro, Majorca

Market days are a big thing in Alcudia’s old town, and because we got up early, we could get there before the crowds, taking our time to wander around the vibrant fruit and food stalls before settling at one of the coveted tables outside Elinor Café in the city centre. A favorite among locals, this small traditional café serves freshly baked Mallorquin pastries, including delicious and airy ensamadas, which are roll-shaped and made with lard. Sitting with pastries and strong coffee, watching the world go by while our son flirted with quivering market-goers (much to our delight, Spaniards seemed to welcome the mayhem of toddlers wherever we went), I felt lighter than I had in months and so thrilled to be surrounded by my little family.

Although we were happy to embrace the chaos and drive our son’s routine, we also planned to have a few hours to ourselves that weren’t just nap times. Simpson Travel, the company taking care of the Muro Beach House, recommended trying the trusted babysitting service Jelly and Ice Cream, which operates at many vacation destinations, including the Balearic Islands and several ski resorts in the French Alps.

Any guilt we felt when we left our son with Meg (a gorgeous Welsh woman who arrived with a suitcase full of craft-making materials) for a few hours one morning promptly dissipated when we got in the car and headed inland towards Sinoe, a hilltop town. It is located in the very center of the island, which was previously its capital. Its vibrant and sprawling market has been going on for 700 years and uniquely includes cattle and farm animals from pigeons to pigs. We skipped the guinea fowl stall but bartered in for some brightly colored wicker baskets. Without children, we managed to slowly make our way through the maze of stalls, without stopping to snack but nibbling on huge, bright red cherries and delicious gato de Almendras that left us with sugary mustaches as we discovered.

Before heading back to the beach house and the toddlers’ artwork in the gallery, we stopped at L’Epicerie, a nearby restaurant in Alcudia that stocks everything from delicious jams to local cheeses and wines. It’s the kind of place you go for olives and walk out with €100+ worth of delicacies that will last you lunchtime but make you swear to never buy Sainsbury’s ham again. We ate lunch together outside in the shade, enjoying laziness and sipping a refreshing Radler beer.

The last time I was in Mallorca, after days of non-stop cycling, I got a massage from a wonderful therapist named Amanda Woolston who had the kind of touch that makes you suspect he might have a sixth sense. She made a huge impression on me and so I was thrilled when I tracked her down through her company Reflexology Mallorca and she was happy to come to the beach house to give us a therapeutic massage. When our son took a nap, Amanda set herself up near a wide-open balcony door looking out to sea (having been to many private villas on the island, she said she’d never gone to one with such an amazing view) and we were melting away under her magical touch.

Private garden and daybed at Morro Beach House

The private garden and day bed at Muro Beach House
Morrow Beach House

From then on, we seemed to float through the rest of our family moon, not aiming to do much in a day but enjoying late afternoon strolls through the nearby S’Albufera Natural Park and excursions to the picturesque towns of Pollensa and Santa Margalida where we sat in squares. Sleepy we sipped freshly squeezed orange juice, watched our son’s eyes light up as he sniffed his first ice cream or munched on his once-no-go potato chips, as we enjoyed a quiet moment and a coffee beer early in the evening.

On our penultimate evening, Meg returned from Jelly and Ice Cream to babysitting and we treated ourselves to a date. Before reserving dinner at the Figueret restaurant next door, we snuck ashore with a chilled bottle of cava and leftover olives from the deli to watch the sky change color over the dark sea. Twilight has always been our favorite holiday hour and it felt special to be able to fully enjoy the moment as the makeshift appetizer reminded us of our early days of dating. When we finally got to the restaurant we ordered a huge seafood paella which was served in a traditional cast iron dish that was so big it needed its own table and server.

Two months after we got back from our trip to Majorca, everyone’s favorite rebounding couple J-Lo and Ben Affleck were photographed with their four kids on a family moonmoon in Paris. It seemed like they were having a great time, embracing the modern family way of honeymooning, where everyone was invited.

Back in London, we drifted through the entire summer in a post-wedding bubble, realizing that managing holiday expectations isn’t such a bad thing: We saw and did things we wouldn’t have seen or might have taken time to appreciate had it just been my husband and I, and still come back relieved to our core. One day we might get to Mexico or Japan, perhaps for Retirement Month. I was saying no kids allowed, but I’m not sure I really mean that.

This article originally appeared in the February 2023 issue of ELLE UK.

Features manager
Hannah Nathanson is Director of Features at ELLE.