Now we’re back from our trip and the dust has settled, I have time to write up what we learned from our journey and what could be of use to others.
As I wrote in one of the posts, improvisation is one of the key aspects of such a trip. As our car is not on the huge side, we decided to leave the travel bed at home. Sunshine has been falling asleep in the pram anyway, and we had heard from a friend that their son had done the same. As such, that meant less luggage in the car. Indeed, Sunshine actually slept well in the pram, despite some screams. One night, he slept for 10 1/2 hours at a stretch! As such, forget about how you USED to travel – this is different.
The journey was ok. On the trips there and back, we got about halfway and then Sunshine got edgy. In such cases, your nerves will certainly be tested, especially if there is nowhere you can stop. Screams will ensue from the back seat and there is little you can do. M. sat in the back on the return journey which helped to reduce the tension slightly. Gone were the three-hour stints between breaks to fit in with how we wanted to travel. Adults can grab a drink from a bottle or eat a piece of chocolate. Little ones can’t.
It’s necessary to time your journeys to ensure that Bubba will not get annoyed quickly. We always tried to leave when Sunshine was on the cusp of falling asleep OR when he had slept, was fed and was happy. One surprise was that, even though we went to a party (in the heavy rain!) last Saturday and were petrified of a 50 km journey back to the hotel in a car full of screams, Sunshine, though moaning a little, was actually pretty quiet. But that was because we noticed his signs of fatigue/sleepiness and promptly left! (Luckily, our friends are parents of a little one too and so understood the issues!)
(In addition, I have found that, although we greatly enjoy listening to audio books in the car, Sunshine has an aversion to voices coming from places he can’t see them. As such, Mrs. Christie had to wait… (it’s no different at Sunshine HQ either though…))
As I mentioned in one of the other posts, we had a problem with the babyphone not getting a signal at the first dinner. Also (and if you’re new parents, you’ll have felt this), we felt that other diners were getting annoyed by Sunshine’s moans, being picked up, taken for a walk, etc. etc. As such, we felt pretty awful. There was talk of going home, of giving the holiday to someone else, of trying to make as little impact as possible.
But this was primarily simply the fact that we were in at the deep end. We were 230 km from home, with one room to call “home”, had no extra quiet place to be with Sunshine if he got edgy and were constantly aware that, through Sunshine, we were “in the limelight”. There was no hiding place. And, after a night’s sleep, things improved. Talking to others helped us to see that people were NOT annoyed. Babies cry and whine, that’s simply accepted. Parents of older children have an in-built forgetfulness mechanism (explaining why people have multiple children, even if they go through hell with #1!). Indeed, everyone thought Sunshine was great and was surprised that he did not scream MORE!
This helped us to gain in confidence and will also help you. No, you’re not a bad parent, yes many people are or have been parents of a tot, yes, if you need help, people will help. After all, there’s nothing you can do about it! At the hotel we stayed at, it was not a problem to cancel the half-board and switch to eating in the older restaurant, where the babyphone did work. Remember a little tip: “This is not YOUR fault. You are not jabbing pins into the little one to make it cry. It is crying and it’s not your fault.”
Feeding or changing nappies? Nope, usually not a problem either, particularly if you just check. Need some hot water to clean a dirty bottie? No worries. And this is all a point about improvisation again. The nappy-changing space varied from the case storage shelf to a sofa in a bar. Not a problem. Places to feed? Quietly in a café, in the back of the car in a car park or even on a train. Just be quiet and unassuming and no-one will even notice.
Another key thing is to do this as a team. We suffered chronic rain for two days and just had to make the best of it. Sunshine was under the plastic cover for the pram and we trudged around under a big umbrella. You’ll find that some shops or sights are unsuitable for prams. Oh well, put it off for another day. If Bubba needs feeding, work out a plan to make that possible. If you are soaked through, go to a café and get some nourishment. If she’s tired of pushing the pram, you do it. You’ll be surprised at what you can actually manage.
We took a walk down to the lake on the last day and then chose to get on the boat to the next town. Hm, could we manage it? We had the pram, nappy-changing stuff, sufficient money – we were kitted out. So we did. And it worked. If a feed was required, we arranged it. When Sunshine’s nappy needed changing, we managed it. A mixture of teamwork and improvisation, as I have said.
This is not a holiday, its just a change of scene right now. It won’t be wildly restful, but you’ll cope. This too will pass and before you know it, you’ll be going away with a walking, talking little darling 😉