After nine months of getting to grips with this parenting lark we finally felt confident enough to venture a bit further afield with Freddie and booked our first family holiday.
We decided to stay in the UK as the thought of a plane journey with an incredibly active little boy filled us with dread. I’ve also still not worked out how the current luggage allowances on planes allow you to get your travel cot, pushchair and kitchen sink to Costa del Baby. So a week in our favourite little town in Devon was duly booked and Steve, Freddie, the dog and I headed off to Salcombe. Here are some things we learnt:
Plan your journey
It kind of goes without saying that you plan your journey when you have a baby but I mean REALLY think about the best way to get there. For some reason we decided to break our journey on the way at my mum’s house in Cardiff as we thought it might be too far to travel from Cheshire to Devon in one stint. We drove down during the evening thinking it would be easy to keep Freddie asleep the whole way and just transfer him into the travel cot at the other end. We didn’t think about having to unpack it and all his stuff from the roof box at the other end at 11 o’clock at night whilst keeping our fingers crossed he’d stay asleep (he didn’t!). Trust me there is nothing as scary as a grinning nine month old, standing up in his travel cot, ready to play at midnight. Then we had to repack everything the next morning before heading off again. With the luxury of hindsight it would have been much easier to do what we did on the journey home and travel in the daytime with a few stops at the services along the way.
Have a good stock of baby music to play on the journey
If you’re travelling for four hours then it’s unlikely the baby will sleep the whole way. Sometimes Freddie will sit for a while and happily stare out the window while chatting to himself. Sometimes though, usually when we’re stuck in a traffic jam, he will scream like it’s going out of fashion. We discovered on the way home, the only way to stop this is to play some pretty repetitive baby songs on a loop. It will send you bonkers but listening to Five Little Ducks for the 50thtime is preferable to having your ear drums punctured by baby wailing reverberating around the car.
Don’t worry about the holiday upsetting your baby’s routine
One of the reasons we hadn’t taken the plunge on a week long holiday earlier was my fear of upsetting Freddie’s routine. A cursory glance over any mummy website will provide you with terrible tales of babies waking up at ungodly hours weeks after returning from a disruptive trip away. For us though the opposite was true. We’ve mentioned before how Freddie has been waking at 5.30am since the clocks changed. Turns out all we needed to do was put him to sleep in a small travel cot with a hard mattress in a strange room to get him to stay in bed until 7.30am! So far *whispers it* this has continued since we returned home and if he starts waking at dawn again we may just whip out the travel cot in his nursery.
You will need to baby proof the holiday home as soon as you arrive
Even if your holiday cottage has been advertised as a family friendly spot that doesn’t mean it won’t be full of hazards for an inquisitive little chap with a desire for danger! Be prepared to rearrange the furniture as we did after he made a beeline for the very funky coffee table made out of various (and sharp!) iron tools… A metal fire poker had to be hidden in the games chest and precious looking ornaments moved to a much higher level.
So with a bit of planning and forethought going on holiday with a baby doesn’t have to be too different. You probably won’t come away as relaxed as before but you will return home with a bucket-load of lovely new family memories.