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Education News

Valentine's special: You, me, the moonlight - and the patter of tiny feet

Do romance and kids mix? Yes, says Kate Simon
Picture this. Paris on a crisp winter's afternoon. Dusk is falling as we walk hand-in-hand along the river Seine. We move towards each other to share a kiss. But something comes between us - our manic five-year- old son waving around a sticky mass of candy floss.

Hang on. That's not how it's supposed to be. Romantic weekends are the ones where you leave the kids behind. Not always. If, like us, you haven't got family or friends willing or able to take care of your little monsters, you've got two choices: resign yourself to never taking a romantic break or take them with you.

And just how do you get romantic with the kids in tow? Adapt the situation. With five years' experience under our belts, we have learnt a few tricks that guarantee quality time for us.

First, if we want some real privacy we book a suite. We also check that the room has a DVD or video, and pack a few favourite kiddies' programmes and movies (never rely on the hotel's library) along with a small selection of toys. We always choose a hotel that offers babysitting - many now do, at home and abroad. And we make sure we book the babysitter at least 24 hours ahead of arrival. Crucially, we choose a hotel with a good restaurant so that we only have to hotfoot it up the stairs to check that everything is OK. And if all else fails, we ditch the good parenting temporarily and indulge in a bit of downright bribery.

Are we unique? Not according to Debbie Green of babygoes2.com, a website offering advice and information on travelling with children. "We've definitely noticed a trend for couples to take romantic breaks, particularly for anniversaries. They want it to be at the right level of adult romantic experience, but they also want to bring their child along, so need to know they'll be happy too.

"We've had more inquiries for honeymoons with children so far this year than we've ever had. It seems to be something people are planning more frequently. And not just second marriages - it's mainly people who've had their children then decide to get married. Often there'll be two children under five."

Green believes many tour operators are becoming adept at tailoring trips to suit such requests. "There are a number offering that level of personal service, who really know the places that they're talking about. A romantic stay can mean different things to different people, yet some tour operators can recommend exactly the right resort to go to and add all sorts of different touches."

So, did we manage to keep the atmosphere romantic in Paris? Oh, yes. But it took a little more bribery than one candy floss.