So, we’re back from our first weekend away as a family of four and it’s safe to say that the husband and I are pretty knackered!
Baby E has been teething (we think) and spent two out of the three nights not sleeping, including one long period of inconsolable screaming.
We carted there and back what felt like enough supplies and luggage to survive an apocalypse, even though we were only away Friday to Monday.
There were a couple of stressful navigational moments, plus a dinner disaster when we couldn’t figure out how to work the oven in our cottage, resulting in tea being an hour late.
Both kids ended up falling over, with Little Miss A sporting a bruised cheek almost from the point of arrival. Baby E wanted to use her newly acquired crawling and pulling up to standing skills at every available moment, generally in the most unsuitable and unsafe locations she could find, meaning that opportunities to sit still in the cottage were few and far between.
With all that, you have to wonder why on earth we would leave our perfectly nice house, which is perfectly geared up for our family’s needs and situated in a perfectly lovely part of the country, for a weekend away that most definitely could not be described as a relaxing break.
Well, relaxing it may not have been but it was fun despite the hard bits. From Little Miss A’s excitement to cosying up all together in front of the fire to animal feeding to playing in the on-site soft play to exploring new places together, we packed in a whole weekend of family experiences and memory making.
These are memories that the husband and I will always treasure, such as Baby E’s very first swim. We had the on-site swimming pool all to ourselves, which was wonderful. While Baby E bobbed up and down in my arms, her sister treated us to twirls in her rubber ring and squeals of delight as her daddy dived under the water or pulled her along on a giant float. It was a highlight of our weekend and all four of us had huge grins on our faces as we splashed around together.
Or Little Miss A looking like such a big girl on a pony ride around the courtyard, holding on and balancing all by herself. She risked a wave as she trotted past her daddy, shouting out proudly: “Look at me!”, a perfect mixture of concentration and happiness on her face.
When we came to drive home, she didn’t want to leave, declaring holiday to be ‘so much fun’. We had to agree. I’m looking forward to doing it all again in the summer – although next time we take our secret weapon, the grandparents, along too so hopefully we get to squeeze in a smidgen of relaxation as well!
So, here I am, lying on the beach in Spain, tapping out a blog post. Technology really is an amazing thing, isn’t it? It gives such freedom. Although also less in a way, as we have to make a huge effort to unplug! Luckily that’s not a big issue in my life right now; my challenge is carving out morsels of time to get online and write. Hence a blog post from the beach…
I’m watching ToddlerGirl playing and reflecting how much easier parenting a little one is when you can be outdoors all day. She has been in her element: digging in the sand, splashing in the sea, collecting shells, stones, sticks and whatever else she can find.
You don’t need much when nature is your playground and you are armed with an imagination. Yesterday, a selection of stones was transformed into a whole family and she spent well over an hour setting up a little world for them to live in and acting out everyday scenarios – going to the shops, making a slide, tucking up for bed. It was wonderful to listen to her running commentary as she explained to her Nana what was going on!
Glancing up and down the beach, I can see children of all ages engaged in similar simple play. They are running, jumping, building, swimming. Trawling for fish. Getting covered in sand. And they all have huge grins on their faces. It’s hard not to smile at the sight. This is the stuff treasured childhood memories are made of.
We may not be quite at the stage where we can lie back and know she will amuse herself with little more than a watchful eye on her (that’s why her grandparents are here helping us out!) but seeing ToddlerGirl revelling in the freedom of the outdoors is always about as easy as it gets with her.
And if that can be on a beach on a beautifully hot day, then so much the better…