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Travel, Small Children, Unrealistic Expectations?

(22 Posts)
NotQuiteCockney Wed 10-Aug-05 02:19:41

I probably just need a reality check here.

We're about one third of the way through a holiday. Essentially, it's a city break, in two Canadian cities. With one kid, I seemed to be able to get around and do stuff in the cities. With two, all of a sudden, we do nothing. Which is frustrating, as DS1 is now getting old enough to appreciate a lot of the big events in these cities.

(It doesn't help that I spent the first week of my holiday lying flat with a weird bug. Today is the first day I feel a bit functional. DH left for NYC on business this morning. Gr.)

Today, I went into town with the two of them, and oh boy it sucked. Ok, I don't really drive, and somehow I thought the transit system here didn't suck with two kids. It was really really hard work and unpleasant.

Should I just relax and accept that I am limited to a few (harried) meals out, a tiny bit of shopping for me, and mostly spending our holidays in the local parks? Or does anyone manage to do anything with two small kids while travelling?

nappybaglady Wed 10-Aug-05 13:35:02

Must be tough with one adult to 2 kids. We've just been on a big trip where we essentially toured the playgrounds of the world. Hardly brought anything home because we couldn't do much shopping. Were in Queensland but didn't get to barrier reef because kids just too young for that sort of thing. Had a great time despite the restrictions.

Try to use it as time to watch how your kids are developing and pick activities that they'll love so that they're happy on the (very naive) basis that happy kids= happy mummy

But yes, it's a bit of a reality check, holidays just aren't the same as they used to be

Hope you manage to salvage it and have a great time. If all else fails take them to Tim Hortons for donuts and you can get a decent cup of coffee

NotQuiteCockney Wed 10-Aug-05 16:39:30

Oh, I'm doing fine with coffee, in Montreal there are loads of great coffee shops.

I was just really looking forward to taking DS1 to all these destinations (museums, fairs, that sort of thing) and having him finally enjoy them. And now I'm thinking, eh, maybe we'll make it to one before DH joins us in Toronto.

And the teenager next door who was planning to take DS1 away a bit isn't awake yet, because he had friends over last night ... which is like, eh, yeah, I noticed, they were outside my window, effectively. Ack.

HappyHuggy Wed 10-Aug-05 16:42:07

Im taking ds1 and ds2 to Kentucky soon, no idea what to do with them on the flight though! Ds's are 3 and 1 and i think its a pretty long flight time.

So gonna be following your thread with intrest

NotQuiteCockney Wed 10-Aug-05 16:59:10

HH, the flight was fine, well, tolerable. Largely because we flew BA, who have seat-back tellys, and we made sure DS1 had already tried headphones before we left home.

Without that, it would have been harder.

I'm not totally hating the holiday, now I'm not sick any more, but I do need to get DS1 to sit down when we go out for a meal.

And, for both boys, going to different parks than usual is great fun, so why do I have to see that as not a holiday? (And spending time with them in a park is much much more relaxing than spending time in a museum or whatever with them.)

swedishmum Wed 10-Aug-05 17:23:06

How old are the children? I found I had to compromise on the types of restaurants I visited - it's happening again now baby is 11 months. We gave in after a couple of vile evenings with dh's colleagues and bought any gadget going - gameboys a big hit. Also do we're going to do what mummy wants first then we'll do something you choose. Keep museum trips short. I do museums during nap in buggy for no. 3 and make sure I have a bottle of wine in the hotel room for later. I do sympathise - there's no chance of a leisurely coffee after dinner when you're out for meals with young kids.

Glad you're feeling better and hope you have some fun for you.

NotQuiteCockney Thu 11-Aug-05 01:12:28

I really hate the whole "carry a Game Boy everywhere, be forever playing" thing I see kids doing. That being said, BA gave a sort of little GameBoyish thing (cheaper, duh), and we are finding it very useful in restaurants.

DS1 is nearly 4, DS2 is nearly 1. DS1 should be fine in restaurants, but is only becoming ok these last few days because I've had some rather pointed conversations with him. Oh, and started bribing him with hard candies - one per good meal. I don't like doing that, but it works, so hey.

Today really sucked. I expected more help from friends here in Montreal, which is unfair, as helping me isn't their job. (DH is in NYC) It was hot out today, and I was cranky and tired. At least DS1 went off with the teenager who lives next door, for a few hours.

swedishmum Thu 11-Aug-05 13:40:16

I didn't give in on gameboys until ds was 5 or 6 and they are limited use (can't stand them) but I'm sure my blood pressure is lower now!
The other thing I've learnt is to go to places where some food (bread or anything) arrives quickly, or I take some dry shreddies for the baby and don't put her in her high chair till there's actually something to eat.

When I had a really crap residential job I used to make a list of treats for when the kids were in bed - bubble bath, face pack, chocolate, film to watch - put them in a hat and pull one out. Didn't improve the day but it was something to look forward to.

Blu Thu 11-Aug-05 14:18:34

NQC - I think you're v brave!
tbh with 2 kids that gae I would take them to a variety of open spaces / playgrounds etc, rather than city attractions. And picnics rather than sitting down to eat. I just think kids have a low threshold for sitting in cafes. At home, they don't sit down until the food is ready. In restaurants, by the time you have ordered, and it has arrived, they are already at the limit for sitting in one place. Well, mine is, anyway!!

Can you find more relaxing things to do - a boat trip, just go to a nice park, etc?

Sorry it's such hard work for you, I bet you can't wait to meet up with DH!

moondog Thu 11-Aug-05 14:25:13

NQC,as you're probably all sick of hearing,I trail around the world after my dh with my two children same age as yours) in tow.

Realised that I can do about 50% of what Ii want to with them. Doesn't help that the remote part of Eastern Turkey I live in is very unchild friendly (wonky pavements,no babychanging facilities,blokes chainsmoking everywhere and so on.)
I find it frustrating as I am a very 'on the go' sort. My mother reminds me that it is only temporary,which is what I tell myself constantly when I am standing dull eyed in some flyblown/death trap playground, pushing the kids on swings for hours on end.
Also,as you say,if it was only dd (my 4 year old) it would be really easy.

PrettyCandles Thu 11-Aug-05 14:36:55

Once we could rely on ds (and later dd) going to sleep easily, I insisted on holidaying in hotels with good child facilities, because otherwise holidays where just like being at home but with dh at home as well. At least in a hotel someone will feed you, do the washing up, and clear up after you, and once the babies are asleep you can take advantage of the listening service and go to the pool or whatever. I don't think people without pre-schoolers appreciate how much of your time is taken up with their concerns. Again, in a hotel there's stuff laid on for them, even if it's only a playroom. Dh likes renting a holiday cottage, but for me that's not restful - it's just more of the same old 'same old'. Which is also why when we took a cottage I insisted on having an open fire - at least something was different that way, and I had something different to look forward to in the evenings when the babies wwre asleep.

I think you just have to accept that, with children this age, you have to holiday on their level. They still need naps and informal (and early! ) meals, and playgrounds are their idea of cultural heavan. Perhaps you could strike a bargain with ds1 - 1/2hour in museum of your choice, follwoed by a bus-ride or playground or icecream etc. Some museums have very good childrens' packs, which even if he is too young for them, may have good crayons and toys to distract him while you get a little culture to put in your eye.

RachD Thu 11-Aug-05 14:45:20

Water might be good.
My ds loves anything watery.
Like Blu suggested a boat trip ?
We were in Florida recently. My ds - 1 1/2 loved fountains and splashing around in child friendly fountains , in the park.
Would this suit you ?

NotQuiteCockney Thu 11-Aug-05 22:34:27

You know, it's not really culture I'm after, just ... I don't know, holidaying like we used to, wandering around the city.

Water helps - the nearest playground is in a horrible location, but has a water spray play thing which is very popular. There are loads of wading pools, too.

Annoyingly, DS2 has some sort of nuclear bottom thing happening, though - the skin is just really horrid back there, so I'm not happy about him being in chlorine at the moment.

moondog, managing to do 50% of what you want is a good achievement, I'd say! I've not managed to do anything I wanted to this week. Well, I've managed to see friends, and today I went to a favourite old restaurant. I did buy yarn.

But there were a few child-friendly outings that really appealed. Maybe Toronto will be easier, I remember the public transit there being a lot more child-friendly.

stitch Thu 11-Aug-05 22:42:17

actually, i think it is a case of unrealistic expectations.
one child can be carted of to wherever the adults are going, two or more, and its the parents who get carted off to the kids destinations.
also, being on your oown with two is harder.
we've had to bite the bullet, and ended up sampling mcdonalds in every part of the world we have been to.

NotQuiteCockney Fri 12-Aug-05 15:05:35

stitch, I see what you mean, an extra kid does make a difference.

(That being said, neither of my kids has been to a MacDonalds yet.)

Right, I won't expect to get to many (any) interesting places in Toronto then. We're staying near a very big good park, and that may be most of our outings. I do want to make it to Ontario Place, though, I have such fond memories of it, from when I was a kid. And the CNE would be lovely, if scary ... maybe do them when DH is back with us.

So far, I've been (really really) ill. DS2 has been (quite) ill. So just DS1 and DH have to get ill now.

beetroot Fri 12-Aug-05 15:15:21

Message withdrawn

NotQuiteCockney Sun 14-Aug-05 12:57:20

Well, we're now somewhere with no boy next door. He was pretty good on the train, at least - which was the help I really really needed.

My folks are now about, and are essentially not useful.

DH is back Wednesday night, and promises lots of help. And we will certainly be considering a resort next year, for the parts of the trip DH isn't here for (if there are such parts, next summer's schedule is a bit hectic).

Is travelling with a nearly-4 and a nearly-1 easier than travelling with a nearly-5 and a nearly-2? I guess the nearly-2 will be sleeping better, and hopefully the nearly-5 will play with him more?

NotQuiteCockney Sun 14-Aug-05 13:00:42

Actually, that was unfair. My folks did stay and "watch" the boys while they slept, so I could go grocery shopping. And my mum did help in the train station.

Just, neither has much evergy or agility, and mom's mobility (diabetes, feet problems) are getting worse. In an untreated sort of way.

WideWebWitch Sun 14-Aug-05 13:05:59

NQC, I think your expectations are maybe a bit high and I do sympathise. (Btw, an aside, but I'm impressed at the no of mumsnetters posting from their holidays with holiday-related questions!) I think in your position I'd be strapping the baby into a buggy and he just has to tag along with whatever YOU and ds1 want to do, he doesn't need much entertaining presumably? I agree that standing in parks, which is a particular pet hate of mine, is NO FUN at all, I don't think you should do it to yourself tbh. Not if you can possibly help it anyway. Can you go to places to eat where it doesn't matter if your 4yo isn't table trained: pizza places and places with things to look at outdoors? Also, take toys! Because bored child = bad restaurant behaviour I always found. And just make sure you have packed snacks for the baby too so if you have to wait somewhere it's not the end of the world. Good luck, hope it gets better, which it prob will do when dh is back won't it?

NotQuiteCockney Sun 14-Aug-05 13:28:15

www, it's not so much the baby's demands, more a matter of, just getting up and out is hard work, and I'm inclined to be back for the baby's nap, so getting far is hard. But I should just make him sleep in the pram.

The baby does want to crawl regularly, but he'll crawl on any surface, brick, pavement, whatever, so that's not much of an impediment.

Luckily, I don't mind standing around in a park, but it just doesn't feel very novel, you know?

I can't face eating anywhere child-oriented - I'm afraid food is one of the reasons I'm here on holiday! (Well, that's less true of Toronto than Montreal.) But I'm just generally avoiding eating out with the kids and no help. Taking snacks for the baby is a good idea ... places do seem to take forever to serve food when you have two kids ...

WideWebWitch Sun 14-Aug-05 13:33:24

Is where you're staying nice? Could you just hang out there a lot? Or only go out after naps? I hope it gets better.

NotQuiteCockney Sun 14-Aug-05 22:54:46

www, where I'm staying is ... mixed. It's pretty run-down and manky, really, it's a sort of B+B. The neighbourhood is ok, and there's an excellent park around the corner, from what I remember.

What makes the place not totally crappy is that the people running it are really nice. The woman keeps leaving out different books and toys for DS1 to play with! So he keeps having new things to look at, keeping him very happy.

It's irritating, she's very nice, and they do have broadband (as in, I don't have to steal wifi from the neighbours). But I can afford to stay somewhere really quite nice, only there's nowhere appropriate. Gr.

We will be fine. I'm a bit annoyed at my folks for buggering off to the country again today (they're coming back on Wednesday, which is when DH is coming to town). My sister is busy today. My fairy godmother will probably come one day, and an old uni friend, another. We will cope.

Tea tonight will be sweetcorn, goat's cheese and fruit. Woohoo!

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