This past weekend was the first time we took this parenting show on the road. In the two and a half months since he was born, there have been lots of bus rides, long walks and weekends that we spent mostly away from our apartment, but we always came home at the end of the day, and other than the day we brought him home, we had not travelled by car.
Not being from the city we live in means that family and friends are mostly away, so we certainly hope he travels well. One night away to Kingston to meet up with two of our favorite people seemed like the perfect first of what we hope will be many trips away from home with our baby. Alex and this couple all went to Queen's together, and since we live in Ottawa and they live in Toronto, we decided to meet each other half way at a place that holds a lot of memories for them.
Much like at home, I don't really get "time off" from being a mom while on vacation, but I definitely enjoyed myself. These are some of things I learned:
I only want to travel with people who are baby friendly.
A big part of my enjoyment was due to the fact that our friends were completely accepting of the baby's needs. Sometimes we had to stop so I could feed him, or go for a short walk to put him to sleep when he got tired. It was never like the baby was cramping our style because we all wanted to hang out with him, too.
Accept that the baby (and at least one parent) may have to turn in early.
Oliver started getting restless around 8:30 the night we went out for supper. I had hoped he would just fall asleep in the sling, but it was quite warm in the restaurant and he wasn't showing signs of making it to after-dinner drinks. It worked out, though. We planned to have supper at 7pm, so I was able to have supper with everyone before heading back to the hotel for bedtime. I can't say that I was completely present--I was feeding him and trying to soothe him while trying to eat and participate in the conversation--but I was happy to be there to the extent that I was. And since I took Oliver back to the hotel, Alex was able to stay behind and spend time with his friends. He had fun and I was happy that the baby was content and the night didn't have to end prematurely for everyone.
A vacation with a baby is still a vacation.
Even though we did not escape from the responsibility of taking care of a baby, it was still an escape from our daily life. No laundry, no dishes and no cooking meant we had more free time to enjoy being together. We got to spend time with friends we don't see very often and hang out somewhere different, somewhere fun. It is more work to get away with a baby, but you get to travel with a baby, which is fun in itself.
Overall it was a great experience. Oliver slept for most of the drive both ways, and was content to either hang out in the stroller or be carried while we went about our day. I feel much more prepared for our trip to the east coast at the end of the month (although flying will certainly add another variable). We are tentatively planning a trip to Ireland in the fall. Not sure yet whether we'll be up for that kind of trip with a baby, but we have a few months to improve our away game.
Look for upcoming posts on our experience with co-sleeping and cloth diapering away from home.