Whoever said holidaying with a toddler, or 15 month old to be specific, would be fun can piss right off. Yes, I have made some lovely memories, snapped some amazing photos, eaten some beautiful authentic food and lived the French dream for a little; but my god…EFFORT.
I didn’t think I/we were a stickler for routine but on reflection of how smoothly everything runs with one, it certainly makes life bearable. A month ago before embarking on holiday my thoughts on routine felt like we were just going through the motions to see out another day, hopefully without too many child meltdowns. How I was so silly to think a holiday and no routine would be easy AND enjoyable. *Insert Family Fortunes incorrect answer ‘X’ klaxon*. The phase ‘Same shit, different location’ springs to mind.
Whilst enjoying the interchangeable micro climate of Ile de re, I made a few observations that should be noted if you’re jetting away avec kids this summer:
Airports. A new, exciting experience for any child that has not be on an aeroplane before. Summed up, practically a giant expanse of space they want to explore every corner of. We knew the key to Hux at least sitting still on our short 90 minute flight was to burn all his energy in the departures lounge. Armed with a set of reigns, I was the parent clocking up miles on the pedometer. Things to watch out for when weaving your child through hundreds of holidaymakers; bottles of spirits precariously stacked in the duty-free. People eagerly running to closing boarding gates and super smooth slippery floors. An added bonus of travelling with a child is you seem to be ushered to the front of all queues – exploit this as much as possible!
Foreign Food. France isn’t known for truly exotic food but any destination is a change from food at home. We weren’t going to force snails down his throat or indeed beef tartar but even the bread tastes different and boy did he play up to this. Uninterested in anything we seem to put in front of him Hux’ diet all holiday consisted on cheese, fruit, pan au chocolat/croissant, ice cream and surprisingly olives. My point, do not expect your child to eat as they do at home.
I’m always quiet envious of foreign cultures and their late night dining with kids sitting happily at the table. Why is that so frowned upon here? Anyway that was just a side note but another thing that seemed very absent from french restaurants were high chair facilities. Where they trying to avoid children present in restaurants generally or are they gently forcing good table etiquette from an early age by making then use a chair? As you all know unless strapped down and pinned in place a 15 month old can cause absolute havoc in a restaurant. You have been warned.
Pool Rules. Firstly, ever tried to get a toddler who understands a few words to walk and not run? Especially around a tiled pool area? Thought not; it’s like they are neurologically wired to run everywhere, and slipping over banging their head 3/4/5 times a day won’t stop them. As harsh as it sounds – I give up asking & shouting because it was futile. Never has something wound me up more simply because I knew the outcome. Every effort was fruit less and to see your child in pain is uncomfortable but were does the balance lie? As a parent there will never been a relaxing moment poolside with your eyes firmly fixed on your child. My top tip: Find a beach and give your nerves a break.
Naps & Bedtime. Throw the book out of the window. Any routine here is lost the moment you step off that plane. The heat, day time activities and sleeping arrangement all accumulate to disruptive sleep all round. There is no quick and simple hack here but just dealing with it as it comes. If your child like ours has a late nap between 5 – 6.30pm, embrace it. Grab a quiet evening meal together, soak up the last of the day’s sun. It’s quite nice to have ‘late nights’ once in while – You’re on holiday after all. A personal holiday highlight was watching Hux do his thing, in the warm night air, indulging in a bottle of red with family. D’accord.
Clothes. If like my OH you wanted to pack for every possible weather outcome; don’t bother. T-shirts/vests/shorts and maybe a cardigan is all you will use. We were quite fortunate that we stayed in a private villa so the image of a nudey young boy wasn’t an issue. To be honest Hux spent the majority of his time without a nappy on which must have been lovely for him. “Airing his bits” as we use to say. However, if this isn’t an option for you, minimal clothing is a necessity. Keeping your child cool in scorching temperatures is a must, along with layers of sun cream (gets a squirty nozzle one to attack from long-range). A child with sunburn is not only dangerous but unimaginable hassle.
Here are just some of the things that as a parent was my duties to highlight to others travelling this summer. They were all issue that I hadn’t given any thought to pre holiday and definitely considerations. I am in no way trying to frighten you but just a heads up on some of the situation you may encounter.
Where are you travelling to this summer? Any destinations that were incredibly child friendly? Hit me up…