“Never again” is what I whispered to myself this weekend as I tried in vain to quieten my screaming child. Screaming so loud, might I add, that he woke up the dogs on the neighbouring farm. And the roosters and a handful of pigs.
We were away for a wedding, four hours out of Joburg, and the shit had hit the fan. I suppose it was unfair to uproot this little 10 month old, especially after having only been home for two nights post a beach/diving holiday in Sodwana for the week before.
When we first accepted the invite to the ‘child friendly’ wedding, I was pregnant, and the most issues my little cherub had given me was a bout of McDonalds induced diarrhea and some heartburn. Naturally we assumed – like all non-parents – that the fetus would be equally well behaved when he was a baby, and so we gleefully RSVP’d, for all 3 of us.
Fast forward to 10 months and a few days and said fetus turned baby turned satan had decided that no, he would not just sleep after a bottle, and no, he definitely would not scream unless held. And so we did what every sleep deprived, frantic parent did – we bought him into our marriage bed, looked each other in the eyes, and vowed to still love him, despite the raging tantrum currently happening under the duvet.
So whilst we may be to blame for dragging him all over the country, we have also learnt a serious lesson: Your baby will always act out at the most inopportune times. Your baby will also wake up at 5 am after a drunken wedding that ended at 2 am. But I digress.
So, if you are currently an owner of a small human, and are thinking about taking a ‘holiday’, then here is my advice:
If it’s too late, and baby is a certified plus one at your chosen destination, then here are a few more pearls of wisdom:
- Pack all the medicine. You will readily think of a valid reason why baby needs Stopane with codeine at 3 am.
- Don’t expect smooth sailing. Your child may be the poster kid for routine, but even a slight imbalance (read: camp cot, strange noises, parents having fun) can trigger the antichrist.
- Snacks will save your life. Every 5 minutes of silence was courtesy of Flings, Cheerios and biltong. Never underestimate the power of the coolerbag.
- When travelling long distances try leave over a nap time, and always pack several changes of clothes and a bottle of wine (I feel I should clarify that the wine drinker should probably be a passenger)
- Stay in a venue where you child can still have some sort of a routine – trying to get them to sleep in their pram in a loud restaurant is fun for no-one.
- Tag team. Even if it means walking to the edge of the bedroom and quietly banging your head against the door frame for 5 minutes – let your spouse take over when it’s getting too much.
- Enjoy the good bits – because I can promise you they far outweigh the bad bits. In the last 2 weeks my son has met the ocean with joy, gazed at silken cows, sat silently through a beautiful wedding ceremony, watched monkeys from the stoep and bathed in a shower. When at a loss, fill that memory bank!
- Lastly, have some empathy. I can’t imagine how overwhelming the last 2 weeks must have been for my kid. He was in the car for 30% of it, in strange rooms, around strange people, and yet most of the time he was perfectly behaved. A little tolerance works wonders when you are at your wits end.
If all else fails, plan a holiday for immediately after the holiday with your kid. And plan it for just the 2 of you, where late nights can be blamed on too much wild monkey sex.
I jest, we all know that leads to more babies.