Travelling with Babies and Small Children

I’ve just been reading a great blog by some expectant parents who are clearly sick of receiving unsolicited ‘wisdom’ from jaded been-there-before parents whose primary message seems to be that their life is now over. It’s prompted me to share some of my own experiences as the mother of a two year old and the proud possessor still (by the grace of the universe and the strength of my fingernails), of a life… ;)

Hanging on by my fingernails

Hanging on by my fingernails....Fontainebleau, France (Baby out of shot, playing with chalkbags.)

One of the primary messages of the naysayers seems to be that you’ll never travel anywhere once you have a child. Simply not true.

Of course the journey will be different….

City breaks still delight but they now stand or fall on the quality and quantity of available playparks, rather than trendy bars and restaurants. Note, if you didn’t know it already: a leisurely meal becomes an oxymoron as soon as there’s a baby in the equation.

For our regular climbing and surfing trips we’ve had to suck it up and buy a motorhome (or RV). Terribly unglamorous but definitely functional. (Think fitting in pushchair, baby backpack, surfboards, climbing gear, toys, travelcot etc etc….oh, and one ungainly greyhound.)  Luckily we were never terribly glamorous in the first place so the fall from grace was not so difficult to bear.

A home away from home at the foot of the crag. Catalunya, Christmas 2011

And who really cares about sacrificing street cred when it means we get to keep climbing in gorgeous places like this?

Me climbing, Dad entertaining baby, newly made friend belaying. Os de Balaguer, Catalunya

Yes, indeed. Travel you can, wherever your particular passions may take you.  In fact, the day comes, sooner than you might think, when the little tyrant darling will be telling you exactly suggesting destinations and directing your activities when you get there.

'I think the crux is just over the roof Dad. You'll need that crimp out right.'

Below, Jack oversees a surf lesson for my friend on our local beach.

'I said faster on the pop up. Oh, hang on, there's a photographer about.'

Ah yes, each stage of parenthood comes with its particular joys and challenges. That it is a stage is particularly important to remember at all times. Nothing stays the same. A comforting thought in times of trials and a wake-up call in times of (particularly fleeting) smug ‘We’ve got this parenting thing all sorted’ moments.

In some ways the earliest stages of babyhood lend themselves particularly well to travel. Pre-walking babies are really at their most portable. They weigh little, are pretty immobile and they sleep a lot and just about anywhere, freeing you up to do your thing.

The early days - Jack snoozes in his pushchair while Mummy and Daddy get some bouldering in. Resconorio, Cantabria

On the flip side however, while Jack was at his most portable I was at my most immobile. Flooded with happy, hazy-making breastfeeding hormones I was content to pass the ill-defined days away on the sofa with him mostly clamped to my boob, dreamily gazing at him in simple amazement. This from a woman who never wanted babies.

And then, when we’d finally get him off to bed in the evening, we’d heave a sigh of tired relief….and break out the digital camera to review footage of him from that day….

Yup, take it from me, babies can accompany you to places you never even dreamed of.

Comments

  1. Yes. It is so true, especially at three months, he has no power to take off yet. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Love the toddler climbing tips there! No children for me (yet) but I’m glad to here it is possible to combine the two (children and climbing/outdoors life). Many of my friends with children are not really into that and the rest of us haven’t had kids yet!

    • It’s totally do-able and very rewarding, although it does require extra effort and planning. One of my best friends had children a number of years before I did and she and her family set a great example of how to combine the two, so I knew it could be done!

  3. Fantastic! I’ve been steadfastly ignoring people telling me I can’t travel when I have my baby (later this year) but glad to hear I’m not just being wildly optimistic. Even if I’m more a city break than climbing type…

    • You can TOTALLY keep travelling with your baby. It’ll be different to before – more stuff to carry for one thing and sometimes harder work, there’s no denying it – but also lots of fun. You’re not going to change who you are or what you enjoy doing when baby comes – you’ll just be doing it all as a family instead. Exciting times for you – good luck with it all!

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