I'm writing this in a car on my holiday while simultaneously trying to find a Lightning Mcqueen car lodged under my seat and juggle a McDonald's coffee on my lap. Not only did I happen to find a job that seldom takes holidays (freelance writer) I also partook in a second job that has absolutely none.
I would wager in the last week I have heard the word mum upwards of a hundred thousand times. I have done three loads of washing and two grocery shops, found two missing cars five times and organised breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Been "cannonballed" in the head by 20kgs of child and been "sucked in the hick" at least thirty times.
Now, I'm not one to complain about being in Noosa - at all. Or about being lucky enough to be Archie's mum. This is definitely not a quest for sympathy, moreso a cry of empathy with every other mum/dad who attempted to take a family vacation thinking she would also get one. I'm also extremely lucky that Archie is the most adaptable child I've ever encountered and would readily wake up in a new room every day of his life, as long as I was there, with the gusto of a 20-year-old backpacker. Oh, wow! Where's this place? A cabin you say? I love it! This is where I live now.
Preparing for travel.
Prepping for travel with a small human is like heading into battle in an unknown land with limited resources whilst severely outnumbered.
What will he wear next Tuesday? What if it rains? Is there a washing machine? What if it's kinda hot but not that hot and then a cool change comes and we aren't prepared? Do I have sunscreen, a hat, two jumpers, shoes and thongs, colouring books, texts, at least seven cars, learning iPad, LION(!), spare undies, probiotics and goggles? There's my luggage limit used: I'll wear the same clothes and wash them nightly. There's something so angst-inducing about not being prepared that I end up severely over-prepared and packing things he's never needed in his life before, as if we are journeying to a distant planet that doesn't have a Coles or basic human necessities - Better pack those bandaids just in case!
Planes, Trains and Automobiles.
When childless, I loved to fly.
Twenty-four hours of staring out windows and reading books while someone brings me cups of tea and no one can call me?! Sign. Me. Up.
In fact, even now I'd take a holiday that literally involved flying to London and back even if I never got to leave the plane.
These days an hour flight acts as an episode of Whose Line Is It Anyway with me exhausting all my best games, impressions and "bits" to entertain the toughest crowd of one ever whilst attempting to monitor a seat-kicking situation and a Finding Nemo water bottle that's rolled back to 26F. I luckily have a boyfriend who is willing to share the entertainment these days but let me tell you, ages one to two got really hairy on those two-hour Tassie flights. There's only so many voices I can create for cars until I get caught out doubling up. Mum - that was Doc's voice, it can't be Ramone's too! I did HSC drama, kid. Gimme a break here.
I tried subbing out flying for driving to test the waters and whilst allowing for a smoother trip Archie-wise, it definitely ramped up my ridiculous preparation techniques to another stratosphere. I do a pre-drive shop like no human life will exist anywhere along the route - buying up big like newlyweds furnishing a house. Nuts, protein bars, water bottles galore.
I'm not road tripping, I'm a pioneer discovering new lands and I'm unsure of the current living conditions at the co-ordinates of my destination.
I've been known to step this bad-boy up so far as to pack pillows, towels and cutlery. As if we were starting a settlement or beginning our own B&B from the ground up. If there is still space in that car - I'll pack bed linen.
You never know if your three-year-old is going to suddenly regress two years in toilet training when faced with a foreign toilet seat.
Being away with a child.
Since having a dependant I have spent zero nights in hotel accomodations (unless not booked by myself) as I discovered pretty quickly the luxuries of a washing machine, kitchen and SEPERATE BEDROOMS. We now only book apartments, cabins or Airbnbs in every location and I do not recall what a “room service” is or the luxury of a $44 bottle of Yellow Glen on a mini bar menu. I do, however, know the row order of Coles Merimbula or fresh fruit selection of Woolworths Tewantin. The problem is now I spend too much money buying an entire Masterchef kitchen’s worth of groceries for four night’s dinners and it would have been easier, and cheaper, to head to the RSL for $12 speak night. For some reason I become the Manu Fidel of holiday-makers and require three Asian condiments and ten types of oil. Also - hola at those 17 outfits I painstakingly chose back at home, child dressed himself in a blue shirt with green pants and I ended up washing the same shorts three times because favourites.
Working while away.
Archie naps an hour a day still (due to him being a human tornado) so we utilised that time for work (as well as the several hour a night spent watching MAFS and MKR. Something about Troy just makes me inspired write comedy).
Because my blog goes up twice a week and is hugely personal, it does tend to cross over into my life without set work hours so making a conscious effort to allocate writing time was a must. Especially without the usual aide of daycare twice a week. If you do run your own business or work from home, try and give your own brain a rest too. Schedule time to relax and turn off the wifi.
Your crippling anxiety will thank you for it.
Some tips for the holidays:
- Pack snacks. Not enough for exploring MARS but substantial amounts.
- If your child sin’t toilet trained, pack yourself individual nappy packs with a nappy, a few wipes and a mat inside a bag. It’s a real jungle out there.
- Teach them to pull their own luggage. Obviously not at one but by three it’s fairly safe. Make it a game - an awesome game where you’re the real MVP.
- Suss out the pool situation before you leave. And don’t plan the trip over a sudden monsoonal downpoor. Pools are basically 17 hours of fun a day as long as you (or an uncle perhaps) are patient and alert enough to monitor it that whole time.
- Book a cabin. They have exciting things like curtains and safes that will keep inquisitive kids entertained for about three minutes.
- Find the closest seven RSL’s, download their menus and rotate through a best-of $12 meal deals.
- Meet another family. ESPECIALLY one with older kids who love to babysit for $8 an hour or one with lots of kids the same age as your poor, extrovert only child who carries two cars ALWAYS in search of children.
- Drive if possible. I love to drive. Get in the car, pack all the shit you may need and not worry again about whether your 14 hand-luggages meet the 7kg limit (spoiler alert - they never do).
- Kids meals are not necessary, pack a lunchbox or make a share plate out of your adult meals.
- Take a water bottle and hand sanitiser everywhere.
- Schedule fun time. Switch off the laptop, put down the phone and enjoy your little humans. They are only little once.
- Always have cash on you.
Although I am maybe more tired and more anxious than before leaving for our holiday I enjoyed every second of it.
Seeing Archie enjoy new things and experiences, spending time as a family and having an excuse to switch off even if only every other hour.
Good luck, fellow parents, if you are currently planning a holiday with your loved ones. May no one get gastro x