One of the things that I found hardest to get used to when I became a new parent was the seemingly infinite nature of parenting. Once my mama bear instinct kicked in and I began to appreciate what it means to take care of a baby, I found it really, really hard to switch that parent voice off. My husband would take the baby out for a walk, and instead of really relaxing and forgetting about my parenting responsibilities for a while, I would worry about whether she was dressed warmly enough, if the stroller too bouncy for her newborn neck and wouldn’t she be getting hungry by now?
Another big shocker came when we decided to take our first “relaxing” family vacation and rent a seaside cabin for a long weekend. Beatrice was three by then and I figured that she’d be happy to walk along with us for easy hikes and run around and explore on the beach, giving us a chance to relax on the deck chairs. Turns out that traveling with young kids is actually more work than staying home. All the familiar routines are thrown off kilter and new environments can be unsettling. All the nice, adult, relaxing things that I’d been looking forward to just didn’t happen.
However, even though there is no holiday from being a parent, taking holidays or traveling as a family is still worth doing. Breaking out of the routine occasionally can be fun, and really won’t destroy the baby’s naps when you get home. Toddlers and preschoolers might be hesitant about exploring new areas but it’s a great way to learn about new places, people and ways of living. For parents a change of scene is often refreshing even though it might be just as much (or more) work. There’s nothing like going away to make me appreciate my everyday comforts when I get home!
As Beatrice put it on our family vacation last weekend, “This is a special treat, going away with mama and dada and lubba, all together!” (Lubba Bubba is baby Claire’s nickname, coined by Bea.) And it’s true. Spending time together, blowing the routine and exploring uncharted territories is a special treat, even if it’s not as relaxing as sitting in a deck chair with my hot coffee and a big bag of knitting.