Brave Enough To Travel?

It has been some time since my last piece of babbling, so here’s to another one, hopefully this may be more helpful to some…

I recently travelled to Mauritius and Dubai for ten nights with my little crew. The preparation for the travels took longer than the actual trip itself. Here’s my top 10 must-dos including some must-have’s that I found incredibly helpful when travelling with my squad.

  1. Make Some Important Calls

I’m not talking about calling friends to brag about going away, that can wait but at least one month before your trip, ensure that you have contacted the airline(s) and the hotel(s). I found making them aware that you are travelling with babies eases any anticipation but more importantly prepares you for the actual trip itself. I flew with Emirates and they were incredibly helpful. We were able to reserve particular seats on the plane, those with a little bit more legroom and we could also request a bassinet for Leela. As well as providing parents with extra luggage allowance, you’re able to wheel your tots in their buggy around the duty free area, right up to the plane. Some airlines also provide parents with buggies which are available at the gate. This made travelling so much easier, especially when trying to catch that connecting flight! So calling the airline, simply prepares both you and them for your travels.

By calling the hotel, I could request a carrycot for both kids. A lot of hotels assume that one may be old enough to sleep on a bed and another in a cot, so I find clarification is always better. Communication also allowed us to get an upgrade on the room!

  1. Write List(s)

To me, this is a no-brainer. Lists are simply my way of organising every aspect of my life. There is nothing quite as satisfying as ticking an item off! Planning a holiday, however, involves a number of lists. I made a list of things to purchase and pack. My kids like most, spend their life eating, playing and annoying me. Now whether you’re travelling by plane, car, bus or train, there is a point where you realise that you have an expectation for that child to sit still for a period longer than an hour. My flight was a total of 14 hours and consisted of one transit. The list I had to prepare was ‘HOW AM I GOING TO ENTERTAIN THESE LITTLE PEOPLE?’

 

  1. Order A Few Must-Haves

This follows on from number two and is essential for the journey. Even the in-flight entertainment wasn’t enough for Reeyan. Most parents have an Ipad and if I hadn’t done my reading, Reeyan would have pestered many fellow passengers with continuous episodes of ‘Bing’….. “round the corner not far away, bing has had a busy day…” It can drive even the sanest into despair. So I called on Amazon and added ‘Headphones for toddlers’ to my search bar. “How else could I entertain a two year old?” I wondered and so the following was bought:

  1. Headphones
  2. Play dough
  3. Crayons
  4. Colouring book
  5. Snacks

Despite being given some of these lovely things on the flight from the emirates staff, I found that there was nothing quite like mummy, literally, pulling these out of the bag. I could use it for rewarding good behaviour and I could put it way for correcting bad.

  1. Packing The Essentials EARLY

Packing the essentials is probably the most unhelpful subheading I could come up with for number four but it’s in my top 10. It needs to be done at least one week before your travels as anything later means that you are at risk of forgetting something! I know we live in a time where anything can be bought wherever in the world, but believe me when I say packing early makes everything easier…and yes if you noticed at number two, I had a list for this too.

  1. Get Familiar With Child Facilities From Day One

This perhaps is one (of many) mistake we made. It was during the penultimate day of the holiday when we found out the hotel had a huge, fully equipped (with both toys and staff) play area. Such a shame as the kids loved it and so did we. They were able run wild, burning all that kiddie energy and finally flaking off into dreamland reasonably early that evening.

We were lucky enough to be in an all-inclusive hotel, which offered a wide range of food at the buffet. However, I also regretted not making the very most of it! Again only towards the end of the trip did we realise that they offered take away boxes which we could have filled up and taken with us during out travels – ‘duh’.

 

  1. Don’t Be Afraid To Break The Routine

A regimental routine at home happens to be what gets me through a day with my toddlers. Since the birth of Reeyan I have stuck to the ‘R’ word like glue, until, that is, I went on holiday. By all means, I still kept their nap and bedtimes but I wasn’t as disciplined as I am at home. I realised by breaking a few moulds, the kids demonstrated that they are indeed adaptable to whatever situation I put them in.

I am quite conscious of the kids having their own cot and bedroom. In the hotel in Mauritius, the kids had to share a room (so I was worried about one waking the other up). On the first night, they slept right through and on the second, third…you get the gist. The kids were still able to stick to their routine even if it was broken during the trip and this is by far the greatest reward of a meticulous routine at home (and for those who wonder what that entails – check out my blog on ‘The R word’)

  1. Get Away

It is your goddamn trip too! And you have every right to spend at least a few hours even a day or two, away from the kids with no guilt entailed. We called on the in-house babysitters and boy did we run to the bar that evening. I found it slightly disappointing that actually nothing changes whilst you’re away. The same demands are there, so as you would usually plan a date night at home, the same applies whilst you’re away. I also found the spa a great get away!

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  1. Eat and Drink Well

 Just like home, it is so easy to get enveloped with just caring for the kids and eating their leftovers. Whilst on holiday, I found that I needed more energy to keep up with them especially in that heat! I made it a point to keep eating and drinking well (the rum cocktails were the best!) and to highlight the same point again – It is your goddamn holiday too!

  1. Plan The Dreaded

You will have to come home at some point – it is inevitable. Cramming the suitcase the morning before the flight home was a distant memory when we were ‘kid-free’. As well as packing our suitcases ‘earlyish’, I had to ensure that the hand luggage was adequately packed. That meant making sure all the ‘entertaining Reeyan’ necessities were there.

  1. Recover

There is nothing quite like home! You’ll be so exhausted you’ll be wanting to plan some deserved rest bite from your deserved rest bite!

So let’s summarise, prepare for your travels by calling the airline and hotel a good month before you travel. Write yourself a great list, this will highlight what essentials you need to buy. Pack early! To avoid any disappointment – get familiar with all child facilities early. If your child is in a great routine already, don’t be afraid to break it! Have some ‘you’ time, making the most of the facilities dedicated to relaxation. Keep your energy levels up, staying hydrated and again making the most of all the food and drink the hotel has to offer. Finally plan the inevitable, pack early and when you make it home – plan that next trip!

 

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Busy, Busy Bumblebee..

I haven’t forgotten about blogging, let’s just say, I’ve been tremendously busy. Leela is now 9 months old and crawling everywhere. Reeyan has had a ‘speech spurt’, he’s suddenly talking a whole lot more and the house is now an incredibly noisy place. So much has happened and there have been many parental skills and health practices that I have come to understand in these few months. I wish to share…. Continue reading “Busy, Busy Bumblebee..”

Living The Dream?

Here I sit having mastered the routine. The washing machine is humming, the TV is on but I’m not watching and the babies are napping. I have already eaten lunch and it’s only 11:30am, the dishes have been washed, the ironing done and there’s not much else to do but to reflect on the madness of the morning.

My bonkers toddler and 7 month old who’s suddenly found her screeching voice has something to do with this madness. I am incredibly proud of them, but boy do they demand. I haven’t actually sat down since I woke up which was at 6.00am and don’t get me started with eating….Well since I have…..Reeyan is curious about all food at the moment. Whatever I am eating, he demands a taste, so I’d hesitate to eat that spicy noodle dish left from the night before with the fear that he might throw his tantrum when it starts to burn his mouth! Its crazy mornings like these which make me wonder about my ‘position in life’, being a mother but above all my future career. Yes, yes, yes…I live for the day, but something has been bugging me lately and it very much affects my children and I.

Continue reading “Living The Dream?”

The ‘R’ Word

The ‘R’ word – ‘Routine’ has to be the buzzword for all parents. If you’re a new mother, then books like ‘The contented little baby’ by Gina Ford and ‘The happiest baby on the block’ by Harvey Karp may be familiar. I can recall feeling quite positive in setting the routine before Reeyan was born. I was so confident that I only skimmed through the books. Then he arrived…There wasn’t quite the regimental schedule I had in mind. Despite Reeyan being quite a rebellious newborn, a routine was still in place and thankfully so, as Leela subtly fitted around it when she was born later that year.

I am able to enjoy a meal and even an episode on Netflix with Roy pretty much every evening. That is simply because the R word is in place. I have heard some comments like “does that mean the babies are not able to enjoy an evening out with you?”

“No”, Sleep is the most important part of a child’s development and sacrificing ‘taking them out in the evening’ is something we are willing to do, well for now!

I’m not going to bore you with intrinsic detail of the routine and helpful must-haves (but for those who are interested, there is a pdf attached!) I have summarised only a few of the advantages and disadvantages above. But let’s look at it in a bit more detail.

Disadvantages of the routine

Starting with the cons of having a routine in place. On separate note, I thought this would be the harder section to write. Turns out it’s not!

I know this now from hindsight. The routine has to be a  regimental one, because in order for it to work, you have to stick with it. That is from the moment your baby is placed in your humble arms at birth. The second time round, I knew exactly what I was doing and that was feeding her every two hours and putting her down every 45 minutes. Did you know a newborn cannot stay awake longer than 25-45 minutes? I had no idea with Reeyan :/ We used to feed him, keep him up and wonder why he was so cranky. Then when we tried to put him down, he was so over tired that he fought sleep. Epic fail. But, I was ready for Leela. She responded so well to the routine we set for her. Till this day, 6 months on…we’re doing the same thing.

By doing the same thing, day in, day out, the routine is of course mundane. There are no surprises – apart from when the babies don’t stick to it. The most surprising of the R word is the fact that you’re doing the same thing day in, day out – at home and not at the workplace, the place where you usually carry out mundane tasks. Normally home is associated with ‘spontaneity’ like staying in bed longer than usual or making a marmite and jam sandwich – just for the sake of it. Once the baby arrives, the monotonous duties take over. It is exciting for the first three months but as the critter grows, the boredom of feeds, naps and nappy changes grows with it.

You can work and work at a routine and it will go brilliantly one week but disastrously, the next. It just so happens that sometimes it doesn’t go according to plan. A newborn’s feed time can also take a whole two hours. For example, they may feed a little when they wake up, feed during ‘play time’ and then feed a little more before their next nap. In my experience, when a schedule is set up with another party, they usually cooperate with full attention. If for some reason they are absent, or fail to collaborate, full communication is usually provided. This, ladies and gentlemen is what happens in the adult world. However, there is no such exchange within the adult and child world. Actually, I tell a lie, we all know the sound of it. It’s usually a loud cry. And that my friends, confirms, that no matter how hard you’ve worked at constructing this amazing life-saving schedule, they don’t always play ball. When things do go smoothly however, it usually has an impact on your social life.

It is to be expected, that you’re no longer going to be able to walk out of the door on your own without feeling the heavy emotions of responsibilities. Your social life, indeed, takes a turn. There used to be social interactions, every part of the day. Whether it is sitting in silence on the London underground (!) or getting your morning coffee at your usual caffeine joint, it happened. Now, you’re in the confines of home. As lovely as this may be, the only communication you’re getting is either from Mr Tumble on CBeebies or screeching cries. It gets better as they become toddlers. There is an abundance of communication at this age and its all very funny stuff. At the moment Reeyan can be mistakenly heard for saying boobies instead CBeebies oh and don’t get me started when he says ‘fork’.

Thankfully, we have our close friends who have also had babies. This helps loads. We are all in the same boat in life and so there are tons to talk about. The problem is however, there isn’t much time to do that. When Reeyan was around 3 months old, I started taking him to baby rhyme time, a baby group focussed on singing nursery rhymes. He enjoyed it and with the sleep he had after it – I enjoyed it too. However, I wouldn’t say that I enjoyed being around other mothers…there, I said it. I didn’t want to talk about the age of my child, how much he sleeps or eats and his developmental stages. It’s a comparative conversation and it made me uncomfortable. Back to the routine, your social life is undeniably affected, as you will consciously make plans around your baby’s sleep times. One piece of advice I will give, no matter how hard it is, don’t give into missing social gatherings as a result of your babies routine. Always try and work around it, as it is these times that can definitely make you feel yourself again. When this happens, you even feel a sense of success; so much so, you begin to reap the rewards of the routine.

Advantages of the routine

 I’m going to put the fact that the routine is regimental into this subheading too as it has it’s benefits. Because you are conscious of the routine, which should be quite rigorous, your day tends to go accordingly. You know what you’re doing next. If you’re anything like me, this can give you a sense of security. As you have, well, you think you have some form control.

The beauty about a well-developed schedule is that eventually your baby will have an understanding of it all. They will instigate the next part on the agenda even if you just so happen to forget. The most rewarding of all is the fact that they will start to feel sleepy at the right times, which is comforting to them and you. Behaviour is predictable as a result, for example, you will know for sure why your say 4 month old is cranky straight away and that’s because their naptime has been delayed. Now 20 months on, Reeyan understands that 12pm is his naptime. There are a series of cues I give him daily, which he associates with sleep time. For example I would say “Lets say goodnight to the TV” and so he would happily press the red button on the remote, as we move through the house towards his bedroom, we’ll say “Goodnight” to the kitchen, the front door, the bathroom and eventually to mummy.

As a mother of two, time is of the essence and the routine makes the notion of time manageable. You finally have the time to do the dishes, sterilise the bottles and even prepare dinner. Pushing it, you may even be able to paint your toenails but that’s a long shot.

I could seriously understand the benefits of a strict routine after giving birth to my Leela. It is life saving when you have more than one child. Leela fitted perfectly into our day. Don’t get me wrong, she added a whole new dimension to things but as a result, our day is more structured. It has for sure, given me my sanity and I wouldn’t change that for the world.

There are many pros and cons of the routine. Having more than one child can be testing, especially, if they are both under the age of two. To be fully immersed into a routine and to reap it’s rewards, it has to be quite rigid in the beginning. Your lifestyle is indeed affected as well as your social life and sometimes it doesn’t always go to plan. Perseverance is what you need – so keep at it! Once you’ve clocked it, you’ll be sipping a glass of wine in front of the TV in the evenings, with only the humming of the dishwasher catching your ear.

The Routine and Must-Haves