Holidaying with an 8 month old!

In our sleep-deprived, baby-moon period last February, we decided to book our first holiday abroad with BattleKid. We opted for an all-inclusive holiday and cheap flights to Gran Canaria for the second week in September when BattleKid would be 8 months old.

We looked forward to eating good food, drinking nice drinks and strolls in the sunshine with our little one. We chose Gran Canaria as we’d been there pre-BattleKid and knew where we liked and thought it wouldn’t be too hot in September. We also chose an all-inclusive hotel so that we wouldn’t need to think about finding food for ourselves. We chose cheap enough flights in and out of Gatwick, booked a hire car with a car seat and promptly sat back, eagerly awaiting for September to arrive.

Now, we had taken a short family trip to Torquay in May and that had been a lovely few days, so we thought 9 days in  the sun would be even better. How wrong were we!

Firstly, we booked an early morning flight and while that in itself wasn’t a problem, it meant we had to travel to Gatwick the night before and stay in a nearby hotel. We’ve stayed in Premier Inn hotels before and they’ve been fine, but our room at Gatwick was on a main, noisy corridor with creaky floors boards above us which kept us up most of the night with people in and out of their rooms, and really disturbed BattleKid. Not ideal.

Our flight with Norwegian Air was lovely and thankfully BattleKid slept well on the flight so he was ok. In fact, there were people around us who commented that they hadn’t realised we were travelling with a baby as he’d been so quiet. Cue huge smiles on mum and dad’s faces! We landed quite excited despite our tiredness and then it hit us….. The heat! We’ve been to the Canaries in September a few times but it just seemed hotter last September.

We picked up our car keys and car seat and headed to the car park. Thankfully everything fit into the Hyundai i30. However, as the car seat was forward facing, BattleKid panicked and cried for 20 minutes of the relatively short journey as he’d never been forward-facing before (or since for that matter).

We arrived at the hotel and eventually got to our room to find the air conditioning wasn’t working. There was no way we could stay in that sauna for 9 days with a baby. Two hours later and too close to BattleKid’s dinnertime for my liking, the hotel eventually moved us. We then discovered they had booked us into the 8pm dinner slot. Really?! With a baby who is normally in bed by 7pm. Needless-to-say, I got stressed going to dinner that late and what I expected to happen, did happen; BattleKid got overtired and started crying due to that and the noise of the restaurant. Not a great first dinner I can tell you! I’m surprised I didn’t give myself indigestion with the speed I ate.We returned to our room, got BattleKid into bed and sat in the dark with our earphones on watching Breaking Bad on the tablet.”Hopefully things will get better tomorrow” we said.

They did, well, sort of. As long as we stayed in the room keeping cool (with the curtains shut I might add), and didn’t venture outside for too long as the heat became too much for us, let alone BattleKid, we were fine. Our dinner slot got moved to 7.15pm with a lot of pleading with the restaurant manager so that eased up one of the stresses on us. BattleKid was still regularly napping during the day at this stage so during this time we sat on the porch (ground floor room) reading our kindles. There was none of that sitting by the pool lark last year!

By day 3 however, I started stressing about the evening flight home, and with us facing another 7 days of heat and awkwardness in a hotel room, we decided to look into an earlier flight home. Thankfully we found a midday flight going home 3 days early. I relaxed a bit once we booked them, knowing we would be home by 8pm and not the previously anticipated 4am!

But it still wasn’t the holiday we had hoped for. While we did relax and enjoyed time together as a family without the house or dogs to worry about, there were many things that made it more stressful than it should have been:

  1. The Heat. BattleKid couldn’t cope with it very well, meaning walks outside were either very short and sweet or were done after 5pm clashing with his dinner and bath time.
  2. Hotel rooms are not baby friendly, no matter what anyone says. We had to beg the hotel for a kettle to make BattleKid’s bottles as there were no tea/coffee making facilities in the rooms. Keeping a sterilising bag in the bathroom sink is a serious pain. I really missed the luxury of my electric steriliser. Being in a hotel room also meant there was no where for BattleDad and I to go to sit and watch the tablet, and once BattleKid was in bed it meant lights out and keeping the noise down. We were fast becoming like vampires with the curtains closed during the day to keep the sun and heat out, especially during nap times.
  3. Hotel food is not weaning-friendly. I was only planning to take a handful of pouches and to feed BattleKid from what we were eating but I brought extra just in case and thank God I did! As BattleKid was spoon-weaned none of the hotel food was suitable for him, so I was glad of those extra pouches in the long run! We also needed to heat his pouches in the kettle in the room which was a bit of a faf!

One great thing about our holiday was spending quality time together as a family and showing off my Waterbaby in the pool every afternoon!

BattleKid doing what he does best in the pool!
BattleKid doing what he does best in the pool!

This year we are learning from our mistakes and doing things differently. We’ve booked Lanzarote for the first week in May to try to beat the intense heat. We’ve ensured we only booked for 7 days and weren’t being too unrealistic with our hopes. We’ve booked a package that includes day flights to and from Bristol so we are closer to home and not anticipating getting home late unless we are severely delayed on our return journey. We’ll use the free transfer included in the package and will only hire a car if we really fancy it.

We’ve booked a one-bedroom apartment with self-catering facilities but on an all-inclusive basis so we can mix it up if we choose to. Although BattleKid is pretty much weaned and will eat what we do at home, we will have the option to cook in the room if we want to. And with a kettle and microwave in the kitchenette we can make and sterilise bottles with no problems.

As for naps and bedtime, we now will have the freedom of a sitting room while he sleeps in the bedroom. Yay, we can watch things on the tablet without the need for headphones and with the lights on! We also opted to reserve a baby-pack with Thomsons which will be available upon our arrival. It includes

  • Travel cot
  • Stroller with parasol
  • UV sun tent
  • Baby bath
  • Bottle warmer
  • Steriliser
  • Changing mat
  • Hand blender
  • Highchair

Although we won’t need everything and probably won’t use the bottle warmer or baby bath, other things will prove very useful. And for only £50 for the week, I thought it was great value for money.

Top top it all off, the place we are going to have creche facilities so we cheekily booked 6 sessions of 2 hours each. This will give BattleDad and I 6×2 hours of lounging in the sun during the day if we so choose! And do you know what, I don’t feel one bit guilty about that. BattleKid is used to a nursery environment and will hopefully enjoy it, and it will keep him in the nursery frame of mind while we’re away. I’m not fussed about evening sessions, which are available, as he’s early to bed anyway. Plus since BattleDad and I gave up drinking alcohol last year, it’s not as if we’ll be looking to sit at the bar drinking all night either!

I am planning to email the hotel closer to the time to request a table for dinner during their first sitting time slot to accommodate BattleKid. All-in-all I think we’re better prepared this year having learned from last years mistakes. We now know what works and what doesn’t and can plan accordingly. That’s not to say something won’t crop up that will scupper us in some way, but we’ll deal with it and learn from it too!

And with BattleKid continuing his Waterbabies lessons and will hopefully be walking by May, it should be an easier holiday than last year. He is also being introduced to a forward facing car seat in BattleDad’s car soon, so that shouldn’t be a problem if we hire a car for a day or two. I should add that BattleKid is in mums car 99% of the time in an extended rear-facing seat and will stay in that as long as his legs allow.

All that’s left to do is sort through BattleKid’s summer clothes (already bought), buy the sun cream and get the dogs to kennels the day before we go!

 

Muslins are your friend.

When a new work colleague gave me her top tip for must-haves prior to me leaving for my year of maternity leave, I thanked her and, if I’m being honest, didn’t really think much of it at the time. However, I have since thanked her wholeheartedly for her advice, which in truth she had forgotten she had told me! So what was this piece of advice I hear you say?

Make sure you have muslins. And lots of them!

Now, when I was younger and my baby sister (13 years younger) came along, I don’t remember my mum having muslins in the house, nor anyone else I knew having a baby from then until I got pregnant, so I wasn’t exactly sure what they were and what purpose they served in the baby-kit essentials list. My sister-in-law, who had four children under the age of 7 at the time, had given me a packet of them in the mounds of things she brought over with her on their summer visit to us, which she no longer needed (or so she thought). I thanked her and put them into the nursery, forgetting about them until my colleague mentioned them again.

Since then I have amassed piles and piles of muslins! The majority of them have come from Faye and Lou, where I purchased no less than 3 of their sets of rainbow muslins, a set of which I have since gifted to many a friend/family member who has fallen pregnant. I absolutely love the variety of colours you get in their sets. As well as those I have the trusty ones from both Mothercare and Asda (baby and toddler events mean you get an extra one in the pack!).

And before BattleKid came along I did not realise just how many I would need or even go through in a week. They have become a staple of the changing table, his change table/chest of drawers, baby bag and any other bag associated with him! Their uses have evolved from milk sick-up catchers to pee collectors (when the health visitor came to the house to weigh him) in the early days, to food clearers, dribble catchers and snot removers (sorry) as it currently stands. They have saved many a change of top BattleMum, although BattleDad always seemed to get caught out, even with one in hand. They have also served as inserts for his pram and Sleepyhead sleep pod to catch any rogue sick-up during the night or to save me having to remove the cover and wash as often as I may have. I currently use one small one and one of the extra large muslins, also from Faye and Lou, as mattress protectors in his cot, and with him having colds and sniffles over the winter, they’ve helped protect his mattress no end, although the sheets are changed on a regular basis due to his runny nose!

I dare not count them but I would reckon I have over 50 muslins of various size and colour and wouldn’t be without them. I cannot see me retiring them to the baby pile in the attic for a while as I’m sure we’ll find many more uses for them yet!

So there you have it, another top tip from mums. Muslins really will become your friends.

 

Pregnancy log

During a rather quiet day in work (same day as 13 months old already post), I scanned through Dropbox for a personal project and came across some of my pregnancy pictures. You know, the ones taken to document the ever expanding belly.

Mine started with the picture of my positive pregnancy test and a time zero belly and concludes with the last picture taken two days before BattleKid was born. It amazed me then how a human body works and grows to accommodate a developing baby and I’m still in awe of it now. 13 months on from the arrival of BattleKid and I can still hardly believe I went through all that. It’s as if it happened to someone else. I know it’s me in the pictures and I have a gorgeous little boy to prove it but it doesn’t feel real somehow. Have you or your other half ever felt this way?

It left me a little bit emotional and sentimental. It was also quite funny looking at pictures of myself and a growing baby bump. During my pregnancy I kept a personal diary and also one of those pregnancy notebooks. It was the first time since my teens that I’ve managed to keep a personal diary and one in which I wrote almost every day. I even got BattleDad to write a few entries,particularly around special times like scans and when we found out we were having a boy.

The diaries are stored at the top of BattleKid’s wardrobe and I do hope that one day in the future he may read them. I’m planning to get my pregnancy pictures printed and I’ll stick them into the pregnancy notebook.

The one thing the looking back and reminiscing hasn’t done is make me feel broody for another. As time goes on, BattleKid is growing up and as sleep gets better, I’m finding myself wanting another less and less. We had spoken about possibly having another baby a few months back but for now we’re happy with our troublemaker, BattleKid.

Did you track your pregnancy and if so, how? Feel free to share your stories with us!

13 months old already!

While I was having a quiet day in work last week I decided to go through pictures on Dropbox to pick out the ones I’m going to use for BattleKid’s 1st year photo frame.

Looking through all the pictures and remembering the times around which they were taken got me quite emotional. A year has gone by so quickly and I had thought I was starting to forget bits of it but looking through the pictures, I can remember each and every one being taken like they were only yesterday.

And my, how my baby boy has changed! From a small 8lbs bundle of joy to a  22.5lbs mobile tornado of trouble, who is now more a little boy than a baby and he is fast becoming a person in his own right. In each picture I can see ‘him’ and yet he also looks different in each one as he progresses and grows.

Newborn
Newborn

He has come a long way from the sleepy baby in those first few weeks. From those first smiles, to the funny weaning pictures, to those ones of him sitting up and sniper crawling, and now ones of a young toddler finding his feet, you can easily track his development. There are ones of him meeting family for the first time during his first trip to Ireland; ones of him playing with his first helium balloon, thanks Aunty Sue; also his first sink bath (a tradition in the family) thanks Aunty Corrina; visiting his first set of Welsh castles with friends, grandfather and cousin.

BattleKid at 6 months old!
BattleKid at 6 months old!

There have been gummy smiles developing into toothy grins. Smiles have been intertwined with crying ones too though! Pictures have included wide-awake, interactive ones to those gorgeous ‘fell asleep on his bop’ pictures, usually with BattleDad included in the picture.

The list is endless as I’m sure yours are of your personal favourites of your little ones. But how do you pick out just 12 to represent their first year? One per month. It’s so hard that I actually have 2 lists! One list includes those pictures taken on or right around the 2nd of each month, as BattleKid was born on the 2nd of January. The second list contains pictures within the month it should represent. For example, 10 months old on this list is a picture taken on the 11th November. I think I’ll have to get them all printed and make a decision when they arrive. Stay true to the “birth date” or ease up on myself and just ensure the month is represented by a picture taken within that month bracket. What did you go with? How did you decide? Have you done a “first year” photo frame?

Either way my lists are almost complete and it’s been most enjoyable, a particularly good way to fill in a very quiet day in work. Just don’t tell the boss!

BattleKid's 1st birthday. He's unsure of his first taste of cake!
BattleKid’s 1st birthday. He’s unsure of his first taste of cake!