As a seasoned traveller and a mum of multiple Terror Tots, I was feeling pretty shit-hot when it came to preparing for this year’s long-awaited #familygetaway. In fact, without scribbling down anything even remotely resembling a list, one could argue that I was verging on the cocky. However, on this particular occasion, it seems I was wrong. For in my nine years of mothering, I hadn’t previously encountered a run-away toddler before, nor had I seen this little whippet coming. And so it turned out, I was totally unprepared.
In view of this, my next post is something a little different. Something to help you keep those tear-away toddlers in tow by the poolside. A few “take-with” tips that I hope you will benefit from at the expense of my complete and utter mummy-malfunction. Some may seem pretty standard. But trust me, you’ll be glad I’ve dusted off your sombrero and rewritten your holiday essentials list.
So here goes, my Top Ten Holidaying with Toddler Hacks:
- The mini paddling pool. Why on earth are you packing a pool, I hear you say? Well for a start, kids these days expect more than just one pool (spoilt brats). But joking apart, the dangers of toddlers plus pools are innumerable. So, if you want to keep your toddler close by (and safe) without having to leave the hotspot of your sun-bed, then I’d recommend you invest in a mini paddling pool. Fill it with water, a load of plastic tat from the pound shop and rest assured that your little one will not be interested in the murky depths of the deep-end any more.
- Reins, or if absolutely necessary, a cage. If, like myself, you have a toddler who, put mildly, wants to “actively explore” her surroundings, then I would suggest immediately exercising some “elastic” limits. Fasten her up with chavvy toddler reins and hold tight. I used to be vehemently against the use of reins (reserved for those who clearly can’t keep their kids under control), but I am now completely converted. But if you really can’t bear the thought of your child essentially “on a leash”, then you could invest in a cage, less controversially known as a play-pen or a play-tent. Aside from containing her within the buggy for the whole duration, there is little else one can do with a toddler who only has one thing on her mind: The Great Escape.
- Non-slip shoes. Forget casually running and skipping by the pool-side, you may as well be dicing with death, skating on a sodding ice rink. With every footstep, every side of every pool is an accident waiting to happen. With this in mind, my most valuable “take-with” has to be the non-slip shoes. OK, so they are totally soggy and unsexy but believe me, your little run-away won’t slip or slide and there will be no broken bones to repatriate.
- Travel wash. And add to that, stain remover. This year I made the school-girl error of forgetting the travel wash. How on earth I did not envisage every item of clothing being ruined by a combo of spaghetti pomodoro, chocolate ice-cream, Hawaiian Tropic and diarrhoea, is beyond me. The truth of the matter is, I am now battling with some pretty morbid stains ten days on. So the moral of the story is, pack loads of travel wash and a stick of stain remover for those more stubborn “memories”.
- Once a Day suncream. If you care about the health and safety of your children but are forgetful, drunk or just plain lazy, then it would be wise to spend a few extra pounds in advance, on the “Once a Day” suncream. Apply just once (I myself am not so convinced, but it’s worth a try) and then let your precious ones float around all day without a second thought. Needless to say, I didn’t invest, so sadly my kids have a better tan than me and it’s not their fault.
- Scalp spray. For all the years I’ve been holidaying in the sun, I never knew this product even existed. Perhaps it’s because I’m not a bleach-blond beach-babe, neither am I bald. Regardless, this product is a life-saver for those whose toddler refuses to wear a hat. If you want to win at the “put-on, pull-off” hat-game over your tear-away tot, just spray this miracle mist all over her head and act like you just don’t care.
- Snacks. All day, every day. From dawn until dusk. Fill your handbag, tupperware and zip-lock freezer bags with dry snacks from the breakfast buffet. Everyone does it, so there is no need to look shifty when smuggling numerous neatly napkined parcels under your kaftan. With The Great Restaurant Robbery under your bum-bag, you can then sit back, relax and ply your little one with snacks on demand from the comfort of your sun-lounger.
- Swim nappies. And then more swim nappies. However which way you choose to calculate the amount of nappies needed per day, trust me, your child will inevitably shit through every swim nappy. When you notice a yellow watery puddle around your baby’s backside, you know it’s too late. At this point you will actually have to get off your arse, prise yourself from the sun-bed, swiftly scoop her up and surreptitiously change her nappy. Top tip – nappies are a rip-off overseas, so rather than swell her bottom up to the size of the Michellin Man in pool-drenched regular nappies or worse, rather than leave her going commando, I’d stock up with double quantities before you go.
- Extension lead. Now, I won’t have to remind you to pack every single electronic device you own. A critical means of diversion in order to gain yourself strategic moments of peace, the iPad/phone/tablet is at the top of everyone’s list. However, what perhaps you haven’t anticipated is when, in the midst of a parent-toddler stand-off, the precious device runs out of charge. In order to preempt and indeed prevent such a terrifying situation, it is a good idea to take a quadruple extension lead with you. Plug all devices in to the lead over night using just one single overseas adapter, and your kids will be entertained on repeat. Not to mention the fact that you may even be able to finish your meal. In peace.
- Grandparents. If you really and truly want an easy ride, take the grandparents with! Whilst the return airfare may seem like a large outlay for the benefit of five minutes peace and a suntan, trust me it is a very small price to pay for the preservation of your Gd’dam sanity.
And there we have it. My Top Ten Hacks for holidaying with a toddler. Perhaps you will have a more peaceful holiday than I did. If you like what you read, please share this post, subscribe to my mailing list or follow me on Facebook @ Apparently This is Normal.