“I need a holiday.” How many times do we say that? If you’re lucky, you’re due a holiday and you’ll be able to rest and recuperate. But can you do that if you’ve got a little one? As a single Mum it was hard in the early days, but now I wouldn’t think twice before booking a long-haul trip without accommodation sorted for each leg of our travels. Our trials and tribulations have taught me a lot. Here are some reflections back on the early days.
Child-free: Holidays for me used to be a break with mum in a nice hotel somewhere with a good climate, seeing the sights and relaxing by the pool. Evenings meant having a lovely dinner. As I’m a teacher I made the most of the Summer holidays backpacking round various interesting locations from Tanzania to Thailand.
When my daughter was first born:
Just popping to see a friend was no longer an easy option. Considerations included: do I take the buggy? If so, how to manage with a little one and a suitcase? Take hand luggage? Not an option when your friend doesn’t have a baby, so I plumped for the baby carrier. Downside: not having a buggy could mean going to the toilet with my daughter in the carrier. Lots of carrying when walking too; it was good for my legs at least!
When there- how to relax and enjoy the day? I made sure the coast is as clear as it could be. I found it hard rather hard to relax, though when my eyes were constantly scanning for danger. “Might she put that in her mouth?” “Could she crack her head on the table corner.” “Would she be ok with different food?” By the end of a holiday, I sometimes found myself more tired than I was when I started!
What about a hotel?
“Could I really make the most of the facilities on my own with a toddler?” I wondered. I gave it a go. However, pools represented as much a potential hazard as fun for me. People on the corridor disturbed naps and dinner started at her bedtime too. I worried about her getting grumpy if she was too tired. Glasses on the table and lots people in the dining room which could spell disaster. The first night I felt people would be frowning if there was a mess at our table (read spaghetti and tomato sauce everywhere).
In the end, I found people could be just great. Just the smallest of things such as a smile or helping carry plates all helped me relax and realise I wasn’t being judged. Daisy switched to a lie in from a siesta and loved the whole buffet experience. The pool still made me nervous, but that spurred me to get swimming lessons for my daughter when we got back.
My big suitcase could double up as a crib when there was to travel cot available. I must admit I was a bit paranoid about using mattresses other babies had had when she was tiny, so sometime preferred the case or on one occasion a drawer! Her sleeeping bag was just perfect as it was comfy and warm.
I’ve since been on two long-haul journeys and several short trips in Asia and Europe with my daughter. This Summer she will be four and I plan to take her on a long-haul trip for a month. Travel is not nearly so daunting as it used to be, not just because she is bigger, but also because I have learned some tips and tricks. Packing carefully is crucial.
When sharing a bed is the best option, I put cushions or pillows round the bed on the floor in case she rolls out. The hotel probably wonders why I need so many!
I can see that the early days were like groundwork and my persistence for going on holiday has paid off: my daughter views holidays as a chance for quality time with mum with a bit of adventure thrown in. She looks forward to plane rides and enjoys seeing new things as well as going to visit friends. Long may it last!