An unintentional summer break seems to have fallen here at Mummy Limited. I fully intended to send posts from our adventure in Europe, but a dodgy internet connection and a new found love for reading a book in only a number of days has meant that the blog has been a little neglected. Writing can be a fickle hobby, one minute words seem to tumble out and posts are fully formed as soon as they’re typed and then suddenly it all stops and you wonder if it will ever come back. I guess the only way to know is just to start writing again and so I begin with thoughts following our holiday.
Before we left and while we were away people would remark how brave we were to be driving across Europe in a big circle via Italy and France, with a toddler and an eight week old baby, but in reality, it didn’t feel brave, it just felt normal.
We spent the first four days driving to our friends wedding in Aviano, about 100km north of Venice. We stopped in Canterbury, Strasbourg & Innsbruck (well, near it) and both the children were fantastic. Some of our days involved 6 hours of driving and they coped brilliantly. We fell into a general routine, with both of them having a nap in the morning and then stopping for lunch. In the afternoon Mini would amuse himself with a toy for a while and Nano would go back to sleep, after another stop Mini would watch a film and Nano would treat himself to another nap.
The lowlight of this long journey was trying to get Mini to go to sleep in a Travelodge in Canterbury when we were all in the same room. We learnt quickly and the highlight was successfully getting him to sleep on a blow up bed, in the bathroom of our Austrian hotel and then carrying him into the room on it. Parenting certainly makes you think creatively.
Actually, there were many other highlight. Such as, driving through the Austrian Alps, where everything seems to be beautiful, the fantastic rest areas that are every 10 miles or so on French motorways, finding the coolest balance bike for Mini Mck in Decathlon on day 3 and him finishing a plate of Chicken Schnitzel and chips, even though I had told him he was getting sausage & chips. (A moment of language blankness on my part. I KNOW that schintzel isn’t sausage. What was I thinking?)
So, it turns out that driving for four days in a row with two small children is not the nightmare I feared it would be and now I can pass on a few tips for anyone who is considering anything like this.
1) Allow yourself plenty of time. You can’t always just push on without a stop as you may have done in the past. If a journey says that it will take 5 hours, it will probably take 7.
2) A DVD player that can be attached to the seat is a sanity saver. By no means did we have it on alot, but in the afternoon when everyone was getting weary it was a great way to keep Mini amused for an hour or so. We picked ours up from e-bay before we left for £40 and it was money well spent.
3) Children love new things. We bought lots of little, cheap treats for Mini before we left and wrapped them up. It was amazing how long a small car, magazine or lego motorbike could keep him amused and the fact that it wasn’t a toy he’d seen before really helped. Lots of snacks also helped with boredom too.
4) Have a bottle available for a baby. I pumped some breast milk each day that we travelled and although I couldn’t wind Nano in the car, but at least by giving a bottle it would get us to the next rest stop with no screaming.
5) Travelling with a toddler is, I imagine, much like travelling with a dog. You have to stop every couple of hours at a suitable stop, so that they can run around and let off some steam. Make sure you allow for this and maybe have a ball handy, although toddlers don’t tend to retrieve them in their mouths like dogs do.
PS: I notice that the blog has gained a few new followers since I’ve been away. I really appreciate you taking the time to look in and read. Feel free to say hello, I love comments and would love to know who’s reading.