Fresh from my recent travels, I ponder, is it ever possible to keep a kids routine on holiday?
The one thing I’m not prepared to give up as a Mum is nice holidays. So, at just two, my son has racked up over 1,000 air miles, travelled on an A380, flown more than 11,500 miles and acquired two stamps on his passport.
He has jumped in pools, swam in seas, eaten homemade cuisine from kitchens around the world.
While this has all been great, it has also been bloody tiring! The endless entertaining on long-haul flights, being crammed into a tight seat bouncing a baby on my lap and the jet-lag, oh the jet-lag.
But no, I wouldn’t change a thing. Travel is important – to me and to him.
Positivity starts here
Yeah sure he’s a toddler, but all these positive experiences I hope will stay with him for life. My parents are from the med and they took me on so many holidays abroad when I was younger too. It left an indelible mark on my view of the world.
Only recently on a holiday to Spain, Boo learnt to say ‘Gracia’ and ‘Adios’, sampled his first king prawns and learnt how to draw hearts in the sand with two very sweet Spanish senoritas.
But what about routines?
But the one thing that gets me every time is what to do about a routine? You hear me right!
It’s the question that every parent faces on every holiday they ever take. And because children are ever-evolving, and at different stages every time you go away. It’s like starting all over again.
So here’s what I’ve figured out and I’m sectioning it up into the different age groups to make it easier…
Under Six Months
At five months old we took our first trip to Sardinia. At the time we thought it was hard work, looking back now that’s laughable! We could go out and he would sleep in his Bugaboo, he was awake as much as he was asleep, day and night didn’t matter. Oh Lord for those days!
The only routine we had was trying to put him down to sleep at 7pm. This wasn’t so easy with us wanting to go out for dinner, but somehow we managed to make it work, give or take an hour. We chose quiet restaurants nearby, so we didn’t have to get in and out of cars and wake him up. On the whole, it was easy.
Six – 12 months
This is where it gets trickier. With a growing interest in the world, it’s not as easy to pacify a child in a restaurant when they want to see the world around them. Still this doesn’t put us off, as we headed to USA when Boo was just nine months old.
The outbound flight is fine, and you can cram in a decent sleep. With a five hour time difference, it was hard to get into the zone, so we just focused on getting the right amount of sleep, rather than the right hours. As ever, I found that being chilled about it made it much easier.
In the day we took it in turns to walk him around in the pram, luckily nodding off around the same time as he does in the UK.
I’m not going to lie, the jetlag is terrible though. On our return it took a good week to get back to normal. There’s no easy tricks, it’s just a case of getting back into it.
1 – 2 years
Yes, I am the mad woman by the pool rocking his stroller back and forth to bring on sleep! We did our best to keep to a schedule of sorts, but acknowledged that we would drive ourselves crazy trying to be ‘by the book’.
During the day he was able to sleep in his stroller, which allowed us to salvage a few hours of peace by the pool. Picking a quiet, well air conditioned spot is crucial to this mind!
Going out in the evening for meals was possible, but not without the iPad (and Justin Fletcher) for distraction! The rule of thumb was that he could go to bed an hour later than usual.
2 years +
The difference a few months make. Now your walking, talking living doll is far more curious around the world, sleeping less in the day and somewhat easier to take out and about. For one thing, they can at least walk on and off planes, rather than being the heaviest piece of luggage you’ll ever carry!
Aged two we went to Barcelona – a great destination for a quick city break.
With the time difference being just an hour, it meant we could more or less stick to our fairly-loose schedule. During the day is the hardest though, because he’s now too big to sleep in his stroller every day a lunchtime. So we find ourselves quarantined between 12-2pm every day. What a bore, but it’s not for long.
Evenings, we can go out till about 8pm comfortably. It’s hard to sleep in the same room these days though, and so we will have to rethink that for the next holiday.
A late night flight home is best to be avoided, since this put a dent in his schedule more than anything else. Still, looking back to how it use to be, I can honestly say, it gets easier folks!
What next? You tell me – any tips for 2+ year old children? Let me know…