It is the best of times – and the worst of times.
Counting “three, two, one” to ring in the New Year, we are at the night markets, eating crepes, overlooking the Eiffel Tower.
Our hands warmed with mulled wine, our hearts swelling with sentiment, we know this is the best New Year’s Eve ever.
Until precisely five minutes after midnight, when the crowd converges on the stairs to make the Metro.
We feel like fruit, being squeezed of every last drop.
I clutch Taj’s hand tightly, so he’s not swept beneath someone’s feet.
Grace is on Jason’s shoulders, wearing a mask of terror.
His mother has a smile from ear to ear, as she’s groped by young French men: “Best I’ve felt in years!” she laughs.
We later discover this is fine tradition in the City of Lights: an unedifying crush to cram onto public transport.
New Year’s Eve is often like this, n’cest pas? With children, there’s an added degree of difficulty.
If they’re young, you don’t want to keep them up until midnight. When they’re older, they don’t want to be with you, anyway.
Here are my top five tips for surviving New Year’s Eve, in an unfamiliar city.
1. Research, research, research
The most up-to-date sites are Tripadvisor, Yelp and Twitter. These will help you choose which restaurant to go to, where to see the fireworks, and how to get home.
2. Make sure you rest
It’s a long haul, from 7pm to midnight. The last thing you want is a pair of cantankerous kids ruining all the fun. Bring a blanket and small pillow, so they can nod off.
3. Write your number on their arm
It’s easy to get separated in those throbbing crowds. You can’t microchip your kids (which is a shame). The next best thing is a note in the pocket or indelible marker on the skin.
4. Organise a meeting point
Allow older kids to have their own space, but regroup before midnight. It’s better than enduring a sleepless night, worrying about where your over-excited teens have gone.
5. Stay somewhere self-contained
Sure, going out for dinner on New Year’s Eve is fun. But often there’s a fixed price for three courses, which is a waste of money if you have fickle kids. Eat in your room before venturing out.
This is what we do in Paris, collecting produce from the food hall at Le Bon Marche for a family feast.
After eating the traditional ‘king cake’, kindly gifted by our hosts through Airbnb, we decide to hit the streets.
We can’t believe our luck when we nab a taxi at 10pm.
Later, we realise it’s because only foolish tourists go out on réveillon de nouvel an.
For locals, it’s more like Christmas Eve: a time to spend at home with family or friends.
Whatever you do, and wherever you go, try to relax. If it all goes pear-shaped, there’s always a good dinner party story.
Our Parisian adventure goes down in family folklore as a night Nanna will never forget.
Happy New Year!
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See also: The best cities to spend New Year’s Eve
See also: Control your kids – there’s no naughty corner on a plane
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