Last year, whilst I sported a fledgling bump on a “babymoon“, my husband and I joked about our next holiday. We laughed and looked each other wistfully as we daydreamed about the romantic idyll of having our bouncing little baby with us next time we soaked up some rays on holiday.
We are idiots.
Having just returned from our first trip abroad with a one-year-old, the word ‘holiday’ needs to be redefined.
It used to mean a time out from the usual routine to unwind, reflect and recuperate from the stresses and strains of everyday life.
Not any more.
It’s now the same stuff with sun thrown in, which of course means adding baby sun cream and insect repellent by the bucket load into the mix.
We got through it, and we actually had a gorgeous little time. But, that didn’t happen without armour. Here’s my guide on what you need if you find yourselves in this situation – and I’m not talking sun hats and swim shorts (although you should obviously pack those too).
An iPad – I used to totally judge the parents who shoved a tablet in front of their offspring and hoped for the best. That was until I became that parent. I swallowed my guilt as we put Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on (again) by convincing myself that it’s loosely educational.
Treats – cue a repeat of the prior judgement and parent guilt. We opted for the baby-friendly organic variety, which look a little too much like Wotsits to avoid the disapproving looks from other travellers. But, they were a huge hit with TJ and pretty much the only thing that could keep him still on the plane.
Small talk – TJ spent much of the week away behaving like a performing seal. He enthusiastically sought out and absolutely adored soaking up attention from anyone and everyone that he could catch the eye of. In a resort largely populated by French and German tourists, my GCSE knowledge totally failed me and I had to rely on a smile and nod during the awkward moments when TJ stared at the smiling strangers.
A strong stomach – the resort we were staying at had a rather beautiful all-inclusive buffet. But, baby must be fed first. So, I patiently filled TJ’s tummy before my own and I ignored its rumbles of protest as I made my paunch wait patiently to be refuelled.
Flexibility – I am a stickler for routine. I run TJ’s life by the clock as much as possible to avoid hunger or sleep related crankiness. Although our holiday destination wasn’t in a different time zone, it simply wasn’t possible to stick to the clock. This definitely had its bonuses though – we decided TJ’s afternoon nap could be taken at the poolside, which meant I could treat myself to the odd Gin and Tonic while he snoozed in the pram.
Thick skin – The journeys and their difficult times did inevitably bring on two public meltdowns – one on the coach from the airport and one on the plane home. Both of these resulted in the odd glare from people around us. I just had to shake that off. We did, however, make friends with fellow parents who knew exactly what we were dealing with – and for that I will always be grateful.
It took meticulous planning and more than a little convincing from TJ’s Dad for me to go abroad with a baby. It wasn’t the usual break from the norm at all – but that’s not such a bad thing when the norm is pretty awesome. Would I do it again? Probably, but I may need a rest from it all first.