The Unmumsy Mum Answers Your Holiday Dilemmas

A few weeks ago we asked you to share your holiday dilemmas with us. If the idea of taking your toddler on a plane bought you out in a cold sweat, or you were completely confused about what to do with your baby abroad, then we wanted to hear from you.

We were inundated with questions from perturbed parents and luckily our honorary holiday expert The Unmumsy Mum was on hand to offer her ‘no-nonsense’ advice.

1. Patricia Maginnis – We’ve recently booked for the second time with Tots to Travel but this time we’re potty training! Thankfully we’ll have everything we need where we’re staying but do you have any advice for coping with airports, flights and long car journeys in a foreign country?

 Ah, the joys of potty training! This is something we were concerned about when we took our newly potty-trained toddler with us on holiday to Tenerife recently. In the end, we found the key was to ask, keep asking and then ask some more – we heard ourselves saying “do you need a wee?” on a loop for seven days!

As a general rule, we never left it more than an hour before encouraging him to ‘have a try’ and at the airport made sure we nipped to the loo just before going through to the boarding gate. On our outward flight, we made the mistake of waiting until he told had us he was ‘desperate’ and unfortunately this was when the seatbelt sign was on and we weren’t allowed out of our seats (this resulted in a near miss!) So, on the way home, we took it in turns to take him to the loo, even just to sit and have a try.

Despite our best efforts at the resort, we still had several accidents and at one stage ran out of clean pants and trousers for him, but being somewhere hot, it wasn’t a problem as we were able to wash and dry clothes quickly. If you’re really worried about a long car journey (and unsure when or where you’ll be able to stop), I have heard parents say they’ve used a pull-up nappy over pants or knickers – that way, the child can still feel if they’ve had an accident but it doesn’t cause you a puddle while you’re trying to find somewhere to change them. We’ve always preferred to go cold turkey on nappies (except at bedtime) so as not to confuse things but each to their own!

2. Carly Chivers – How to manage in one hotel room when both kids wake each other all night long?!

Hmmm, this is a tricky one! Sharing one room as a family presents a number of problems, not least the fact that ordinarily you would all be going to bed at different times. We have shared a room as a family of four on several occasions (including twice when our youngest was a baby) and there are a few things we’ve always attempted to do to minimise the overall disruption.

Firstly, wherever possible, we’ve tried to stay out a little bit later and leave going back to the room until the last minute when it’s time to get ready for bed. We’ve then tried to stick to something resembling a normal bedtime routine, perhaps giving the kids a bath and then reading a story, dimming the lights (or putting the lamps on).

Our Henry (age 5) often gets very hyperactive at bedtime and I’ll be honest one time we did resort to incentivising (bribing) him with the promise of playing games on the iPad if, and only if, he was calm and quiet as his little brother drifted off to sleep. We then let him play his game for an hour, with his headphones on, which seemed to work as he felt like he was grown up enough to stay up a bit later and his little brother was none the wiser that he was missing out as he was already asleep.

I shan’t mention the time they insisted on play fighting until midnight, or the time I found myself reading a book and having a cup of wine (there were no glasses) as I sat on the floor of the bathroom, just to make use of the light.

Good luck!!

3. Ceri Craig – How to cope with entertaining a baby and an overexcited four-year-old in a confined space for hours with no escape. (Am I right in thinking it’s somewhat “frowned upon” to book seats for myself and my husband at the opposite end of the plane to the kids?)

Ha, yes sadly I think it probably is! If you’re booking seats in advance try to consider the least problematic location – ideally all on a row together and not too far from either the front or rear of the plane so you are close to the toilet.

It goes without saying that you should take it in turns to have the baby on your lap and make sure you pack PLENTY of things for the four-year-old to do. A magazine, colouring book, tablet or portable DVD player if you’ve got one and perhaps a few surprises you can dig out of the bag when boredom sets in. Small pound shop toys and games are always a winner and don’t forget the snacks – even if you think you’ve packed too many, pack some more!

4. Samantha Louise – I have a one-year-old and a three-year-old. The oldest walks perfectly but not for very long distances. On holiday do I …

a) Take a buggy board which she moans about, because when her legs are tired she’s still standing up.

b) Take another stroller, so I have two.

c) Take a double stroller suitable for them both (bearing in mind I’d only use it for the week as she generally walks just fine)

I think the answer probably depends on how far you anticipate walking while you’re away. If you think she is likely to complain about having tired legs then a buggy board is probably not the best option, and I certainly wouldn’t fork out for a new double buggy just for this trip.

Do you have a sling or a carrier for the one-year-old at all? If you do, perhaps take that, alongside your existing stroller and then if the three-year-old needs to rest her legs she can have a ride in the buggy while the little one is carried. If you’re not planning on walking miles, I reckon one between the two of them (and a carrier just in case) should be fine. Have a lovely holiday.

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Sarah Turner
Sarah Turner

Sarah Turner aka Unmumsy Mum is a wonderful friend, Sunday Times bestselling author, blogger, freelance writer and inspiring mum of three boys; Henry, Jude and Wilf.

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