Picture this. An airport check in desk. A Dad hovering over two suitcases; one hand luggage wheelie bag; a full-size travel system; a car seat bag stuffed with nappies, sun shades, rain covers, blankets and a car seat. A Mum wearing a baby in a sling; a nappy changing bag and a face of dread. FIRST FAMILY HOLIDAY ABROAD CLAXON. And yes, this was us.
Five hours of uncertainty lay ahead. Would he sleep? Would he cry? Would we get ‘the look’ from fellow passengers? In hindsight, with only one kid in tow and no need to steralise bottles or to warm milk mid-flight, the only thing we had to worry about was why on earth we’d packed enough stuff for seven weeks for our seven days away.
After a couple of days in the sunshine, we took a trip to a local supermarket for basic provisions. I could not believe what I saw. The same brand nappies as I had lugged from London. Who knew?! After weeks of calculations for the exact number of nappies required by a five month old for a week away from home (plus, of course, a 10% contingency) I simply couldn’t believe my eyes. The nappy sacks. The wipes. The creams. Same. Same. Same. I kicked myself and took quite a bit of stick from my husband and chalked it up to experience. Like everything else with motherhood, right? You live, you learn…
It turns out that my over-zealous packing of basic baby hygiene products wasn’t the only thing we’d brought that we didn’t really need. The full travel system buggy was, to say the least, a bit redundant. Despite it being one of the sleeker designs on the market at the time, it was cumbersome and quite frankly awkward to manoeuvre in and out of hotel doors, around sun loungers and over sand. Luckily the sunnier climes meant it could ‘live’ on our balcony for the week without fear of getting wet else it would have taken up most of our cosy hotel room, too. And to this day I’m still annoyed by the scratches on the chassis frame thanks to the heavy-handed baggage handlers.
I know you’re keen to know about the car seat. Well we didn’t venture far from the hotel. So we didn’t use it once.
Each night we stressed about bathing before or after dinner, and inhaled all three courses in one whoosh, running back upstairs to bed our son. Only to be woken 45 minutes later as the four month sleep regression had cleared passport control and was most certainly on holiday with us…
If you were to ask me if I enjoyed that holiday I would struggle to answer. I can’t remember if I did or not. In retrospect, this now mum of two wants to tell the then first-time mum of a newborn to CHILL OUT. But it was hard back then. That newborn fog. The sleep deprivation. The first time as a family abroad. Did I mention the sheer exhaustion from the late nights calculating how many nappies to pack?!
But I learnt. I took it all on board and made sure that future holidays were more realistic. In terms of preparation, expectation and routine whilst there. Two years on I invested in an umbrella stroller buggy as well as a super sleek one-hand fold and carry-on board buggy for air travel, which can attach a wheeled board. The wheeled board is excellent for navigating airports if one of the kids refuses the buggy. And it negates the need for a double buggy if you have both kids.
Make your life easier. Do a bit of research about what you can buy when you’re at your destination. Shape your packing accordingly. And most importantly schedule some time to relax. You never know, you might even enjoy yourself 🤷♀️