Travelling With A Baby Or Toddler

The stress, anxiety, and just basic wear-me-down of parenting gets to you in the first year, which was why we thought going on a family vacation with my mom and siblings was something we both wanted to do. We worked the cost into our budget and decided it was worth the money to escape the daily routine of parenting.

Sometimes for your mental health and overall wellbeing, it’s important to step out of the rat-race of your life and have someone else cook your meals, lay on a beach, and not have to think about every little thing and moment of your day.

This was not our first trip with our daughter, we had taken ReeRo on a plane when she was barely two months old so we could go and visit my husband’s family in Nova Scotia. This vacation was very different. When we went to the East Coast to see his family, there was little stress around the packing process, because we knew that if we forgot anything, we could always run to the store and pick it up.

This destination was different. We were going to Santa Maria, Cuba and I would be able to run to the store and grab diapers, wipes, and other baby necessities if I had been so careless as to forget.

Packing, to say the very least, was quite stressful. She basically has a small carryon case and half of a larger suitcase all to herself. It was packed with diapers, wipes, baby wash, teething medication, bug sprays, lotions, toiletries, snacks, toys, I had to anticipate her every need for the upcoming week and make sure we were prepared for it. A destination like Cuba meant I knew she couldn’t eat a lot of their food options that had come in contact with their water, and she also couldn’t have any of their dairy. Goldfish crackers, Gerber Puffs and Cheesies, and breastmilk were her main diet for the week, despite me trying to get her to eat things there, she just wasn’t having it.

One thing I will say is I did anticipate her diet when travelling. Cuba is a bright and colourful place and I knew she would be overwhelmed with it all. She left our Canadian winter and was suddenly in the sun, free to explore the entirety of our resort on foot. Usually, when something changes in our routine, she gives me a hard time when it comes to eating, so I did arrive there knowing full well she would want to breastfeed more than anything else. I wasn’t prepared for her to not want any other food.

The only thing she would ever eat was their pancakes and bread.

What also made this trip very different is my baby girl was no longer the baby she was. She was this little person who got bored and had her own routine she liked to stick to. She was stubborn, and she more often than not, let you know if something wasn’t exactly how she wanted it.

She started to walk around the beginning of November, thank goodness. Her finally walking meant that there was no need to pack a stroller, and it also meant that a sense of independence would result in less tantrum and more exploration.

The fact that she was walking made the airport a breeze. She wanted to walk the length of the big windows, watching all the planes and other vehicles on the tarmac. With her new explorative side, I was worried she wouldn’t want to sit still on the actual flight.

Our last flight she was so small, she breastfed the whole short flight and I don’t think she knew we weren’t just as home sitting on the couch. This was very different, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well she did.

I packed her little princess backpack (that she could carry herself had she wanted to, of course, she didn’t want to) with two of her favourite books Brown Bear, Brown Bear, and Baby Bear, Baby Bear, some snacks, and of course the iPad with some interactive games and a few videos that we knew she liked and would keep her busy. We brought her noise-cancelling headphones because they have been said to help with the air pressure on take-off and landing. She did her own thing for most of the flight and did take a small nap on both the way there and the way back.

There seemed to be a lot of kids on our flight and she seemed to be amongst the best behaved, so I definitely felt good leaving the plane knowing how well she did.

I think whenever you travel with one of your littles, it’s important to just prepare. Over prepare! If you even think maybe you need something, pack it. It’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

I think a lot of parents, especially new parents worry that travelling with your children may take away from the feeling of it being a vacation. Sure, it’s not as relaxing and you are never really off-duty, but there is this different feeling of bliss watching your child(ren) experience things for the first time. That sense of wonder is really so special.

I loved watching her see lizards scurry across the grass or the walls. Watching different, more colourful birds fly around and watching her try and walk up to a frog. We went on an excursion and swam with the dolphins after seeing a dolphin show, which I wasn’t sure if she would be okay with. She only had a small freak out when it swam by and her fingers grazed the underbelly (even though she had touched it’s back several times and was completely okay and even excited about it).

All in all, it was a wonderful trip. I prepared. I made sure she had more than enough for the weather, and to keep her busy and I am so happy we decided to take the trip.

If you’re a parent and you just aren’t sure, it’s a good time to test out travelling. Why? Because usually children under a certain age stay free and all you have to pay for is their tourist visa which costs under $30CAD in Cuba. And you DESERVE it!

The Aftermath Of The Holidays

Christmas lights were hung, halls were decked, stockings were filled, presents were wrapped. The pre-Christmas season, excluding the hustle and bustle, is kind of serene. Everything is neat, everything is tidy, everything is kind of like a dream or a wish.

After Christmas is a completely different feel. There are pieces of wrapping paper and cardboard from torn boxes everywhere. The sight of the Christmas tree is a reminder that you are going to have to go through the trouble of taking it down, sooner rather than later. There is a stack of gifts that have no place sitting in plain view, a reminder that you will have to organize as well.

The holidays leave behind a chaos most people don’t really talk about. There are toys that need batteries, toys that need to be returned because they don’t work the way they should, confusing gifts you have no idea what to do with. The fridge is full of leftovers you don’t want to throw away but you know you will have to.

The days between December 26th and January 2nd are a blur. You never quite know what day of the week it is, where you are supposed to be, or what you are supposed to be doing.

This year, my husband and I were smart. We usually have two holiday celebrations; one with my family on Christmas Day that is a little bit more traditional. The big family running around, kids screaming, the turkey and the stuffing. Gift exchange, cheesy games, all that fun stuff. We also have a second celebration with his aunt and uncle who are his only family that live here in the city with us.

My husband’s holiday work schedule is torturous. Last year he had three days off, Christmas Eve, Christmas, and Boxing Day. This year he only had Christmas Day off. Which meant he was going to do more running around than he would like if we were going to do both celebrations.

We did the small celebrations with his aunt and uncle on the 17th, which meant he could spend what little time he had close and around Christmas with his baby girl, the only Christmas gift we really wanted this year.

I’ve had to check the date today three times, because I am still in that wormhole. I kept telling myself I would put things away these past few days, but I haven’t. Today, my daughter and I are wrapped up on blankets on the couch because she is a little under the weather.

I started writing this blog entry thinking maybe I would offer some tips and guidance on how to get things done during the holiday aftermath, however, I don’t have any. For parents, this may be some rare time you have when you are off from work and your children are home from school. My advice would be: enjoy it!

Do all the things you wish you could do with your kids when your schedule is full. Go for walks, play outside, just spend quality time together and ignore the chaos Christmas left behind. There will be time enough to deal with all that later.

Happy Holidays!

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