The Pros & Cons Of Small Island Living With a Toddler

Planet Nomadas Resort

So, as you’ve probably noticed it’s been a while since you’ve heard from me!

I can confirm we are still on an even smaller island and, as you’d expect we’ve been rather busy building our life here and running around the island, mostly after our 2 year old! She is definitely the boss at the resort and consequently prompts guests to comment on how wonderful it must be living on the island with a toddler.

Well, it’s fair to say on the surface it may look like paradise found, but as you’d expect and most mamas will appreciate, it’s not without its pros and cons. So, here it is, my experience of what we’re loving and what can be a little challenging about living on an even smaller island with a toddler.

The Upsides

Life in the Great Outdoors

Nusa Lembongan

Being outside is the best thing ever for her, in fact I think we can even call her Mogli! She’s surrounded by nature, wakes up to palm trees, sees the ocean every day, and is outside in the fresh pollution free air most of the day. It means playtime collecting flowers, drinking coconut juice straight from the tree, and for her playground to be the jungle, resort pool, garden and ocean.

Animals are her Best Friend

Cows Nusa Lembongan

Here we see and hear more wildlife, which most of the time is a good thing! It’s something I’m particularly happy we can share with our just 2 year old who is delighted to have been licked by the new island calf, to play with birds, ‘free range’ chickens (read chase!), a cat and her four kittens, plus a whole myriad of dogs. The seasonal land crabs have proved a hit, as have a whole range of crabbie delights to be found at low tide. And of course, let’s not forget the resident geckos that get chased if they dare venture low enough!

More Daddy Time

Daddy Time Nusa Lembongan

Small Island Living is a big tick for family time. Despite working 16 hour days (yes we still have to work in paradise!) our daughter gets to see her dad and spend time with him far more than if he had to commute or travel to work.

Going Local

Ceremony Time Nusa Lembongan

We are much more a part of the local community here than we ever were in Bali. My daughter is already speaking the Indonesian language and she spends time playing with the local families and kids which I am sure can only give her a broader mind and benefit her in the future.

We Have Less Stuff

Kite Flying Bali

Living here you realise how little you need for playtime to be fun. All those ‘things’ you think your little darling needs to be happy, learn and have fun aren’t really that necessary. Of course variety is important, but excess stuff is not.

So, it all sounds perfect, right…..? Well yes, on the surface, but it is not all paradise found!

The Downsides

Limited Playtime With Friends

There are very few kids my daughters age to play with. Plus there are no playgrounds, playgroups or safe areas for toddlers to run around in. Yes mama’s, I know you feel my pain! Not only does this mean watching her all the time, it also means making sure she has interesting and busy enough days. While families with kids are often travelling through, it’s not the same as regular playdates with friends, for which I take her to Bali once a week.

Babysitter Free Zone

Nannies or babysitters do not exist on the island. Yes I can here you shouting this is such a luxury, but believe me when you don’t have family and friends to help, or any safe play areas they can go to, having someone to help with your child is a must. For me this also means I’ve gone from being part time remote working mother to full time mama. While there are clear bonding merits for spending a lot of time with your growing toddler, 24hrs a day is not the ideal way to live for either of us.

Limited Choice

Living here there are limited supplies both in terms of variety, but also quality. This often means a compromise on offering my daughter a range of healthy, organic foods, and providing the variety of foods that I would like her to try. I even find myself getting bored of the same old thing!

Bye Bye Me Time

This has been a big compromise for me. Whether it be time for work, yoga, stand up paddle board or simply a rest from running round after an active toddler. Any me time has almost disappeared! It’s now dictated to by when my daughter sleeps, when my very busy husband can look after her for an hour, or if she runs off to play with the local kids for a bit.

More Waste

Plastic food packaging and disposable nappies are our biggest environmental challenges living here. There are no facilities to recycle on the island or to ship all plastic waste to Bali for recycling. Of course reducing this waste is our ultimate goal but when everything is sent over in plastic it’s a constant battle. With the nappies I use reusables the majority of the time, however I have to confess I do use a combination of both due to nappy rash from the heat with reausables, plus at night they just dont cut it!

So Is Our Toddler Really Living In Paradise Found?

There is no doubt I love the freedom living here gives my daughter to develop, learn, discover and grow, and all relatively pollution free in nature! However, it is clear to see by the way she makes a bee line for any child that enters the resort that she really wants to play and interact with other little people. This desire, plus a significant lack of me time are certainly downsides to small island living with a toddler.

Plus, let’s face it, there is no real paradise, utopia, or ideal location for your child to develop and grow, or for you to live. It’s just somebody elses perception of where you live. You have to create your own paradise based on the life you live, whatever the location. It’s the day to day world you choose to expose your child to, the experiences they encounter, and the time they spend with you and others which will shape who they are.

For us that means combining a little bit of small island living in nature with discovering the variety found in the big wide world. What does it mean for you?

So, What’s Next?

Well I keep getting asked to share my Top Tips for Coming to Nusa Lembongan with Kids, and also my favourite Bali Experiences. So watch out for those.

Otherwise, enjoy your slice of paradise, whatever that means! My next stop is Europe where I can’t wait to get stocked up on M&S’s finest (Sorry folks, this falls into paradise for us British expats!) and tuck into the best of Basque food with a stop in Spain!

Sam