Monday, June 30, 2014

Tips for Daddies bringing their toddlers on a staycation (without Mummy)

My favourite picture of the entire trip @Silverlake Winery

I did a beautiful thing last weekend, that many Daddies might not have had the courage to do due to various factors, that is to bring Noah, who is barely 2 and a half years old, on a staycation to Pattaya without Mummy! It was a fruitful trip, full of laughter, father-son bonding and some much-needed rest and alone-time for Li Li. I learnt a lot from the trip, and thus have compiled a list of tips for other parents (especially Daddies) out there who might be planning to bring their toddlers out on an overnight trip without your other half.

1. Pack your bag properly. More is better than less.

Noah with his favourite new book before sleeping.
Unless you are blessed like me, staying in Thailand, a country littered with too many convenient stores, you better be prepared. The last thing you want is to be stranded on your favourite beach with your toddler without wipes/extra clothes/clean diapers after he/she just pooped, or be left with a toddler insanely crying on your luxurious bed in your 5-star resort when you have nothing on your hand to appease him/her.

It's always a good idea to bring a little too much, rather than too little, of clothes, diapers, wipes, medication, their favourite snacks, books, a couple of their favourite toys, even loading the car full of their favourite songs. Every single thing will come in handy some day, this I promise you.

2. Eat is better than no eat!

Noah with his first real popsicle. It got really really messy a few minutes after this picture was taken.

A hungry toddler is a cranky toddler.

Noah had 4 short crying fits during our 2 days together, and even though I felt 3 outbursts were out of my control, I believe all 4 were somewhat related to his hunger at that moment in time.

You are on a leisure trip, I do not think it is the time to ensure perfect healthy eating for your kids. No sweets? No fizzy drinks? No snacks? More vegetables? Throw that out of the window. Unless you fully prepare your own meals, there is no guarantee your child will like the taste of anything you order, so if he/she only wants to eat french fries for dinner, you will do well to let him/her have his/her fill of fried potato, if not, the consequences will be too hard to bear. Healthy diets can wait, your kid needs to be full in order to fully enjoy the rest of the experience.

3. Keep in touch with family

Reporting to mummy when we set off. This continued for the rest of the trip.

Daddies, let's face it. No matter how well we bond with our kids, chances are, given a choice, they will prefer to stick to mummy. Therefore, with the help of technology, I highly recommend you to ensure your child keeps in touch with mummy throughout the trip. This can be through phonecalls, voice messages, selfies, messages or anything else that makes the child feel that mummy is around too. If you are too occupied to do this throughout the day, a Skype conversation before sleep will be better than nothing.

4. Make full use of trip for your kid's exposure

Noah started running once he was unleashed among the flowers
Having a trip out means your kid has been broken from his normal routine. He is no longer in his comfort zone, and has the opportunity to see and experience new things. No matter whether it's a pleasant or unpleasant experience, he/she will suck it all in.

Even though there are many things you might be worried about:

What if he falls down?

What if he gets accidentally bitten by the sheep he is trying to feed?

How am I going to answer to my wife if he sheds some blood?

What am I going to do if he poops in the pool?

Noah feeling grapes that are still on the vine.

You need to remember that as much as the trip is for you, it is for your kid too! Give him/her time and freedom to run and explore by themselves. Accidents do happen, but with sufficient guidance, everything should turn out ok (most of the time at least).

Noah on the move

5. The most important point: Take things easy!

Relax and everything will be velli good!

Saving the best of the last, I want to remind you again to take things easy during the trip. It's normal for toddlers to cry or get cranky once in a while, or for something to go wrong, but going into scary-Daddy or kancheong-spider (panic) mode is not recommended. If kids cry, they will stop. It's more important to find out why and minimize the chances of it happening again than to scare them into silence and spoil the mood for the rest of the journey. If an accident happens, keep cool and find a solution.

Lastly, with a toddler in tow without your partner's help, it is likely that things might not go exactly to plan. You might be held up somewhere and miss a couple of scheduled sights, but it's more meaningful to make the most of what you can actually accomplish.

May there be many more adventures to come.

If you have the courage to make this step, please believe that you have created a priceless bonding opportunity with your child, not over a meal or a few hours at home, but an entire trip where you only have each other to depend on. Keep my pointers in mind, and I am sure you will be looking forward to the next one.

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