I originally wrote this post in September last year when we took Devon on her first family holiday. I stumbled across it whilst having a file tidy up and just had to re-share. So many fond memories of our little trip away and right in the middle of wedding season I am longing for another!
When I first found out I was pregnant I decided to attempt to have a quiet 2018 wedding season, not wanting to push myself to far with a new baby I thought it would be a great idea to limit the number of bookings I took on. However being terrible at saying no and being totally wedding obsessed, I ended up with pretty much most of the summer months fully booked and as the end of summer neared I was very much in need of a break. Luckily hubby and I always block out the weeks we plan to go away at the beginning of the year so I had a goal I was aiming for throughout the crazy months of July and August.
When holiday D Day the 1st of September rolled round I was so excited, after a hectic week of 3 weddings and a photoshoot my brain had pretty much turned to mush. This was our first family holiday, the most amount of time we would spend together since paternity leave ended and a chance to relax (or so I thought). The week building up to going away I was running round like a crazy lady! I often think my life resembles that of a duck, calm and serene on top of the water, paddling like crazy underneath, (I know the metaphor is for a swan but I definitely don’t feel swan like). All the craziness resulted in last minute packing with Devon having her own suitcase containing more clothes then she would ever wear, with everything from summer dresses to winter coats. Then followed a giant game of a 3D version of jenga within my car as long suffering hubby attempted to make half the house fit inside.
That night I hardly slept firstly from excitement and secondly from the constantly growing To Do list whirling round my head. I had been dreaming of a family holiday for so many years and we were about to make it a reality… Devon was going to Devon.
This holiday was to prove a massive learning curve for Chris and myself, going away with a baby is not as simple as it may seem and here is why –
Lesson 1 – Your child will not necessarily share your excitement. I had been so excited to take Devon to the beach, we headed off to Woolacombe on the first day, spent a fortune on beach accessories, with a pop up tent, bucket and spade and a last minute baby sun hat purchase as I had forgot Devon’s (she was not impressed as we had to buy a boys hat when there were no girls ones left, just one of the many bad mum moments!). As soon as we had set up our little base on the beach Devon started to cry and grizzle, she hated everything, the sun, the sand, paddling in the sea, her new boys hat, absolutely everything! Thinking about disowning her because no child of mine could not love the seaside we decided to give up on our beach day and head to the crazy golf course, once off the beach my delightful daughter was as happy as anything.
Lesson 2 – Holidaying with a small baby will not leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed at the end. We had the worst night’s sleep whilst we were away, with Devon waking up through the night and who can blame her, those travel cots are rock solid and she was used to being in her own room not bunking back in with Chris and I.
Lesson 3- long gone are the days of leisurely, boozey pub lunches, notice I said leisurely, we still enjoyed the pub lunches, there just wasn’t a lot of leisure or booze involved! Instead of a peaceful glass of wine over a long lunch we tagged teamed eating with holding Devon whilst constantly removing grab-able items out of her way and trying not to laugh when you’re to slow in moving the nearly full pint of fruit cider and she knocks it all over a less than impressed hubby.
Lesson 4- Chris and I have always had active holidays in the past, not ones to sit around we would always be out exploring and walking. Not quite so easy with a baby, after an attempt at a short stroll with Devon in her sling turned into an up-hill, 4 mile long hike with both of us an exhausted sweaty mess at the end but with Devon completely loving life being carried around, we spent the rest of the holiday Googleing wheel chair accessible walks so she could go in her buggy.
Lesson 5 and the most important lesson to learn, it doesn’t matter where you are or what you are doing as long as you’re spending time together that’s all a baby needs. Devon had an amazing holiday, in the week we were away she grew and changed so much, she may have hated the beach but she loved spending time with the 2 of us. She thought it was hilarious riding round in her sling with the wind in her face, she was mesmerised by the meerkats in the zoo, she couldn’t get enough of her first bite of pastie and she just loved all the attention. Admittedly we probably could have gone anywhere but I feel Devon learnt a lot in that small week we were away, her perception of the world greatly expanded, sat on the harbour front she would be mesmerised by the water and transfixed on laughing children. Watching her you could see her senses working in over drive as her brain actively attempted to process all the new sights, sounds and smells.
So to conclude going away with a small baby is wonderful and exhausting in the same breath, holidays have become less about relaxing and more about switching off and being fully in the moment, enjoying that precious time together. Devon had a wonderful time and made so many friends, especially when they learnt her name was Devon, (gosh that took a lot of explaining sometimes). It hasn’t put me off active holidays, in fact we came straight home and started thinking about where we could go next!