Thursday, June 6, 2013

Managing expectations

A wise friend told me that once you have children, you don't "go on vacations" anymore, you "take trips". I think these wise words were passed to her by a family doctor or something after she experienced how tough "vacationing" with a baby can be. As we made plans for this family vacation I held on tight to the truth of that statement as I tried to prepare myself for our first family trip to somewhere sunny.

Memories of sandy beaches and falling asleep in a lounger while reading your favourite book bounce around in your head when you begin to plan a vacation. You get the travel guide and see all the sights you want to explore while you are away, and if you are like my husband you also look up some of the fancy restaurants you want to try while you are in the vicinity...but then reality hits and you remember that you are no longer traveling just with another adult, you are bringing with you your new little person and you need to plan accordingly...and you also have to pack accordingly.

This is where the first hint of reality slaps you in the face. Suddenly you have to think about how the baby will travel once you arrive. You probably need your carseat. Then you probably need a stroller too if you want to take any walks around town once you arrive - right there you are already looking at two things to check at the gate - read lug around the airport. Then, if like us you are going somewhere that doesn't have a crib you have to take a pack and play as a piece of checked luggage. You may be lucky enough that your baby can sleep in bed with you but in our case, our enormous man child has passed the stage where being in bed with us works in anyone besides him wants to get any sleep - He is a bed hog of epic proportions.

We also packed a portable high chair in our checked bags because Levi needs containing at meal times and 2 weeks of chasing him around to eat, while also trying to snatch a bite or two myself as more than I could handle. but we still managed to fit our stuff into 2 suitcases to be checked with the pack and play and 2 carry on bags. I was impressed with our packing, only to be shamed by our friends who managed a cross country trip last year with their baby boy and only took carry on bags. (I am in awe Colgans!)

Still us and all of our bags and parafinalia made it through the airport and we survived the three flights it took - through the night - to get to our destination. Levi did well. He slept a lot. Bully for him. I didn't sleep a wink. Still we landed, and it was hot and sunny. Let the rest begin...

Anyone who has gone on a vacation with a small child or two is probably chuckling now. Because as you know and we soon discovered, as my friends words again rang in my ears - there is no more rest on holiday than at home, just nicer weather (hopefully) and more swimming (probably).

No vacations just trips.

This vacation is sun soaked and beautiful but its work. Levi is still getting up early and more through the night actually because its hot and he is trying to get comfortable in his unfamiliar pack and play. No lazy lay ins happening here. The baby still needs food at regular intervals (which we need to keep track of) and with a new country's foods to navigate, cooking and feeding our little munchkin is definitely work.We have found local pumpkins and okra which I have cooked up and been devoured, we also found,some baby yogurt and some Gerber organics purees at a big grocery store (The fruit purees have been a hit but the veggie ones have not gone over well - they are stage 2 but they are so runny, so I think it is a consistency thing.)

Add to that trying to make sure good naps are taken which has been a fight we have been participating in twice a day to ensure some peace during awake hours. Having Levi well rested is essential to give us the possibility of venturing out of the house especially to restaurants and such, but again, its work and effort, and if I am honest, by the time Levi is in bed at night I quite honestly want to take by sun burnt body and fall into bed myself (I'm burnt because I have remembered to smother my baby over and over again in sunscreen as well as his protective sunhat and UVA/B protected swim wear but forgotten to put anything on me to prevent the redness.)

We are in paradise quite literally. The beauty of this island is breath taking. We have experienced some delicious culinary delights and spent hours in the pool and reading poolside with some fun adult beverages, but most of this happens during nap time. It's much nicer than housework that usually happens then and it is restful and lovely, but when Levi is awake vacation is not exactly restful. We are in the pool with him or chasing him around making sure that he doesn't fall in when he is not supposed to. We are taking trip out to beaches, and seeing sights but in between naps but the heat and humidity means he can get grumpy pretty quickly and keeping hi hydrated and covered up is on my mind constantly. We can and have pushed him a little bit some days but it has to be worth the meltdown that will happen when nap or bed time hits on a van ride home or during a meal at a restaurant (which is inevitable).

We are making some beautiful memories but we daily having to remind ourselves to hold our "restful vacation dreams" lightly to avoid disappointment as we cherish every busy and exhausting parenting moment in the sunshine and hte pool because boy do we have a water baby on our hands!

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