How This Organised Mum Prepares for a Weekend Away With Her Toddler
MyDomaine Australia's parenting contributor Kelly Muller shares her genius tips for surviving a weekend away with a toddler in tow.
Planning a weekend away can feel overwhelming when you have little people to consider—especially the first time you do it. However with a little preparation, it need not be as scary as it seems. As a parent, it’s important for your sanity to take a break from the daily grind every now and then.
In celebration of my recent birthday, we packed up the family and headed north for a weekend of sun, surf, and relaxation. Here, I share my tips for surviving a trip away with a toddler in tow—read on.
If like us, you’re embarking on a road trip, pick somewhere that isn’t much longer than your child’s longest nap—and depart at a time that they would usually be going down to sleep. That way, they still get the sleep that they need and you’re able to check off most of the travel time without them even knowing.
If you’re already approaching the road trip with negative thoughts and focusing on how hard it’s going to be and how long it’s going to take with your toddler, then it probably will be. Look at it as an adventure, make it as simple and stress-free as possible and remember, while it might not be as easy as it once was, it will always be worth it.
Why not think about a holiday house over a hotel? Not only are you guaranteed more space, you can treat it as your own and make things more familiar for your little person. We tend to use Airbnb and on our recent trip, stayed at this amazing place in Forresters Beach. It came fully equipped with everything from a coffee machine to plush linen to chocolates on the bed, and above all else, it felt homely, which is a huge bonus when you’re travelling with a tot. Did I mention the incredible view, stylish interiors, and huge entertainer’s deck?
You want the trip to be as comfortable as possible, so don’t leave everything to the last minute. My husband is always in charge of packing the car, not because he’s the best at it but because he’s the one with the most stuff! While our Mazda CX9 has ample space, not only for Sunny’s essentials, but also my husband’s (several) surfboards, things start to pile up very quickly, so packing ahead ensures the morning of departure is as simple as getting yourselves into the car and on the road.
When heading away for the weekend, ask yourself if you really need the bouncer, high chair, walker, and toy box? We try to pack essentials only, which include somewhere for Sunny to sleep (we love our Phil and Ted’s travel cot), a way to transport her (front pack and car seat), shelter from the sun (our trusty Sunday Supply Co beach umbrella), and a little piece of home (her sleeping bag and a couple of her favourite toys).
On arrival, take your bub on a tour of your accommodation, show them where they’ll be sleeping and point out some of the key areas they’re likely to recognise—kitchen, bath, garden etc. Give them a chance to explore and make sure you unpack a something familiar to them—whether it’s a special toy, pillow, night-light, pajamas or all of the above, presenting everyday items in an unfamiliar environment will reassure your little one and help them to feel safe and more settled.
It’s only natural to feel a bit anxious before jetting off, but don’t stress too much over what they should (or shouldn’t) be doing. If your little one sleeps twice a day then try to offer sleeps around the same time, but try not to panic if they go down a little later or they don’t sleep for as long as usual. You can’t expect them to behave as they usually would—it’s a new environment and experience, so give them some space to figure it out on their own and follow their lead.
The last thing you want is to be left without food for your bub, so on arrival, take some time to organise their meals. Once we arrived, I whipped up a big veggie frittata and divided it up so I had enough for lunches for the next two days. I also prepped Sunny’s dinners and popped them straight into the fridge. Knowing her food was covered made me feel less stressed about what she’d eat and when.
Parenting is both incredible and exhausting so it’s important to change up the daily routine every now and then. Let yourself relax into the weekend and make the most of your time away from the norm. For us, that meant enjoying empty beaches and exploring new cafes and walks. We also made the most of Sunny’s naptime, and instead of worrying about the housework, we sat down, poured a glass of wine and literally did nothing.