1 Oct 2012
The first night away from home
There’s an argument for just diving right in at the deep end when it comes to travelling with kids – once you’ve done it, everything else is easy. But equally, you might want to take the travelling step by easy step, which is what I’ve ended up doing. First, short journeys in easy reach of home, then something a bit more daring, then finally venturing further afield to a night away.
And my top tip? Go and stay with good friends who also have a young child – one that’s maybe a year to 18 months older than yours. Having a baby is still recent enough that they remember broken nights, having to eat one-handed and regular feeds, but there’s enough nostalgia now their own little one is a bit older that they’re not going to get too huffy if there’s screaming at 4am.
Best of all, if you have very lovely friends like I do, they take over some of the feeds and offer to take Minnie out to the park on Sunday morning with their own daughter, so you and your husband can have your first lie-in together for months. Bliss. Especially as she slept through until 6am after behaving like a baby angel the evening before.
Minnie’s trick of sneezing directly into my face when I wasn’t paying attention meant I’d caught her cold, so we had a fairly low-key weekend in Kent, with dinner in and a film, then a quick wander round the shops to stock up on a few essentials at Mothercare in Maidstone and a few less essential odds and ends for me and the husband at Zara (top marks for having a lift in the store) – plus a stop in a coffee shop where one of the worst nappies of my experience took out not only Minnie’s outfit but nearly mine as well. Luckily there were baby changing facilities.
We’d taken the easy packing route and flung everything I thought we might need (plus spares. And a few extras just in case) into the car. Years of forcing excess items into suitcases has evidently prepared me well for shoving far too much into a Fiesta and refusing to even countenance the possibility that it might not fit. I didn’t even have to sit on the boot to close it.
The 90-minute journey there and back was fairly painless, but after a major diesel spillage on the M25 and some non-moving jams on other stretches of road nearby over the weekend, I got to thinking about exactly how I’d cope with a traffic hold-up. I’d planned everything around Minnie’s feeds, so she shouldn’t wake up starving while we were part-way home, to avoid even having to stop at services… but what to do if there’s a huge delay?
This time, I could have clambered into the back seat if necessary, as I had bottles set up ready to feed, but what if I was driving on my own and not able to pull off the road?
I’ve been trying to work out whether I’d have to stick out the screaming until I could get off a motorway, or pull over to the hard shoulder, and have concluded my best bet is simply to check online before I set off and pray!