Gone are the days of big birthday parties for the kids in expensive outdoor/indoor play areas.
People are reverting back to having a few children over at the house, making rice-crispy buns and playing games.
It makes it a lot more affordable and also a lot more personal. People had lost the run of themselves there for a while, trying to out-do one another.
And people are back vacationing in Ireland. It’s nice. It really is.
We took the kids to Fota Wildlife Park in Co. Cork two weeks ago. We stayed overnight at the amazing Garryvoe Hotel in Ballycotton, right on the water.
We had a fantastic, memorable trip and we weren’t alone. The hotel was booked out with Irish visitors.
I asked the girl at reception and she said nearly all their customers that week were from various parts of Ireland. People can’t afford to take a family to Europe anymore, so they sacrifice a few days in the sun to spend time in rainy Ireland and they make the most of it. It’s fun.
Like New York, there are many activities close to us all. Because the country is so small everything is within driving distance if you want it to be.
Before leaving New York we took the kids to Sesame Place in Pennsylvania. I honestly thought we would never see the likes of this in Ireland and then I arrive home to hear about Tayto Park, a similar themed park full of fun for the kids. Ireland really does have a lot to offer families on holidays.
Our social lives in New York had taken a back seat for the past two years, mainly because we had two kids in that short space of time. And now I feel we have it back.
And no, I don’t mean we’re out rocking the clubs of Limerick every Saturday night. What I mean is I now have a house big enough to have friends over for dinner (we do this at least twice a week) and enough bedrooms to have friends with kids come and stay.
Because we have the space (which we never had in New York) we utilize it as much as possible to socialize with our friends and family and I love every minute of it (well, not so much the washing-up).
And one of the most notable differences between our lives in New York and Ireland is having the family around to support us when needed. John’s sisters and mother have been fantastic in offering to babysit at short notice, and my own mother has been awesome.
We are having Sadie’s christening this coming Saturday and Nana Liz has it all under control from the food to the layout of the house. (We are having family back to the house after the church).
We did have wonderful friends who gave up their time in New York to help us out with the kids and we’ll always be grateful to them for that. And now it’s just nice to have family close by to help out, and more importantly, for them to be part of our kids’ lives.
And lastly, the kids. Seeing Colum run around the back garden kicking his ball, pushing his bike, picking up pegs from the grass or chasing spiders (much to his mommy’s horror) is worth it all. He has the space and freedom to do it here.
When his friends come around (or my friends with their kids who will soon become his friends) they go outside and entertain themselves. And when it’s raining they come inside to the playroom and fight over the toys.
Seeing Colum and Sadie getting to know their aunts, uncles, cousins and nanas is priceless.
There is no doubt Colum and Sadie would have had a great life in New York too, but John and I feel that we’re giving them so much more here in Ireland and that will always outweigh any doubts that may ever arise about our move home.