There should be a survival book, not guide, written about how to handle weekend trips with children. You might be surprised that parents tend to make such a huge fuss about how their children did not allow them to enjoy the weekend for themselves, and how little time they had for themselves, but I think the solution is a change of attitude.
When you have children, at least those who choose to (sorry, accidental babies), then you are acknowledging a huge responsibility in your life. It’s sort of like the terms and conditions of a contract, you’re accepting that life will no longer be just about you, and the choices you make which have an impact on you directly — it will be about someone else, much smaller, vulnerable and helpless in most situations.
The attitude should be a positive one — plan on having a weekend trip? If that’s a yes, perfect. Don’t expect romantic strolls on the beach, but rather expect strolls on the beach with a baby (believe it or not, throughout our cold walks on the beach, we were constantly thinking, do you think he is warm enough? Is the wind becoming stronger? Should we put the rain cover on him just to be on the safe side, or maybe that will over-heat him, and that’s no good, he might get a heat rash).
The questions — series of commentaries that you are faced with are endless. Recently, we went to a weekend trip to Brighton, and it was a fun-filled exciting trip, with some stressful moments. We went to one of the typical buffets on the high-street for dinner, and for the first five minutes, Baz (our only son, aged 11 months) sat down in the provided high-chair, looked around innocently, exchanged giggles with those around him). We were in for a treat, that’s what we thought at least.
When our drinks came, Baz became agitated, not because he wanted the drink, and he refused to have his own drink, but because he just didn’t want to be in the high-chair. It was clear to us that the dinner was not going to be relaxing or filled with scandalous jokes, but instead we took turns to feed/play/line up sweetcorn for his pleasure while the other ate. And, it actually worked. It doesn’t feel very romantic, but it makes sense for one partner to eat, while the other manages the toddler.
I’ve decided to write a quick survival guide for three occasions, and how to handle them with a baby/child/etc.
Don’t go to the hotel/motel lobby prior to giving your child his or her milk. Feed them and then go for breakfast, otherwise they will be agitated if they don’t like the food provided, and will scream the place down (if they’re the screaming type, or in my case attempt to escape the high-chair).
It is best to have lunch, while feeding your child because s/he will be preoccupied with eating, and will be more manageable, than say a child who does not need to be fed, but just wants to be fussy.
Take turns. It’s evening time, everyone is tired, no one wants to play yes-thank-you-please anymore. Even while on weekend trips away, ensure your child’s sleeping pattern/schedule is not ruined because it will be much harder to implement once the trip ends.
Always — always — always carry snacks! Small snacks are a child’s pleasure in this world, and it would be terribly cruel to not give them organic carrots, cucumbers, and other delicious snacks, which keep them preoccupied (yey!) and make them healthier.
The best way to have essential things, is to carry a backpack. If you’re the fashionable type, you can purchase fancy high-end branded bags, and if you’re the not-so-fashionable type, any backpack that is large enough to contain all the necessary things you need should suffice.
This is not supposed to replace a buggy bag, instead it is supposed to be complimentary because you never know when you’re going to need a spare hat or glove, or sock (if you’re blessed with children who like leaving sock trails behind).
The bottom line is, you can never be fully prepared for whatever mischief that might befall you, but you can mentally prepare yourself for a weekend trip. Be prepared to have fun, and laugh at what miseries that might befall you. It’s extremely hard being a parent, especially when you don’t know many parents who are similar to you, and when you don’t have many people around you where you can let your hair down, and have a sip of coffee, or hide under the duvet for hours.
(Note: It’s probably a good time to consider investing in their college, just kidding!).