Let’s be honest here. Although the word holiday conjures up wonderful mental imagery for most of us (sun loungers, cocktails, pools, beaches, beautiful architecture, candle-lit dinners in tucked away restaurants, seafood etc. etc. etc.), for parents there is often a nagging feeling that it won’t be the same as it was pre-kids, it will be hard, it will be torture seeing the fun you COULD be having. I’ve heard friends say that holidays with little ones are like being at home, but with no home comforts.
I remember my first holiday away with my husband and our (then) only daughter. It was a shock to both of us. I think we spent the whole week in a fog of disbelief, feeling cheated that the so-called holiday resembled nothing of the holidays of yore and aforementioned mental imagery. Well, since then, and since the arrival of our second little bundle of joy, we’ve wised up a lot. Of course, we’ve learnt to manage our own expectations, but more than that, we’ve invested in a few key bits that have meant that holidays are edging back towards that (now) mystical time of carefree abandon. Here are our top recommendations.
1. Fly-Tot inflatable plane seat, $69.00
Start before you even take off. This genius invention is basically an inflatable foot-stool that you wedge between your child’s seat on the plane and the seat in front, thus creating a magical BED. No more squirming! No more waking every time the seatbelt light goes on! No more stiff necks! And ultimately – more movies and drinks for us! This amazing invention actually works – plus it comes with a handy travel foot pump and of course it folds up small and fits in a suitcase. Available from www.fly-tot.com
2. Go-Go Kidz Travelmate, £155
Hands up if you’ve struggled through an airport, between taxis, across uneven terrain with a baby strapped to you whilst attempting to carry a car seat, but in reality just sort of limping along while it repeatedly drags/smashes into your heels/shins. Anyone? Well here’s the good news, the amazing innovators at Go-Go Kidz have made a wheely trolley with extendable handle that you clip your car seat into, thereby rendering you free to chat to your travel-companion, read signs correctly, keep your heart rate below 200bpm (a holiday must), and keep your lower legs intact. A bit of an investment but for families that travel lots a must. Available through Amazon.
3.Twin Swim Float, £29.99
Remember lying by the pool, reading, drinking, laughing, eating, dozing? Aaaah. Oh yeah, where are the kids? If you prefer your children alive, this brilliant contraption is the one. I don’t have twins, but I do have two children – one who thinks that she is a dolphin and one with a death wish, so this is perfect. Pop ’em in, one on each side, and there’s very little that can go wrong. I wouldn’t recommend a full blown doze (I haven’t personally tested the capsizeability) but at least you can have a nice relaxing swim while they bob along solo. Available through Amazon or direct from their site www.twinswimfloat.com
3. Sunhat, Little Hotdog Watson, £19.99
We all know babies think that sunhats are the devil’s work and are not to be trusted or tolerated. It’s an age-old struggle and most chumps (like us) forget to practice before they end up in sunnier climes, and the first few days turn into a horrible hat-war. So my number one tip would be to practice at home, so that the torture is not new on them. Secondly – and this might surprise you – buy a cool hat. And by cool I mean stylish. My youngest Romy was the biggest campaigner for Babies Against Hats until she spotted herself in the lift mirror, and being captivated by her own reflection, nodded sagely when we tentatively suggested – “See? You look great!”. And from that moment forward her and the hat were inseparable. The trick is to have a really great hat, and lucky for you these guys supply them! Aside from looking excellent, their super-clever design means that their hats also offer factor 50 UV protection, they repel insects(!) PLUS the smart fabric they’re made from regulates your little one’s temperature. Choose from lots of gorgeous designs at www.littlehotdogwatson.com
4. Fitted King Size Bed Sheet, £4.85
For those of you that haven’t seen the inspirational video circulating of a German mum totally bossing a day at the beach with some incredibly well-thought out and flawlessly exercised hacks, for me this idea was the star of the show. Simply take a king-size (or even double) fitted bed sheet along with you to the beach. Stretch it out fully then use bags/stones/cool boxes to weigh down the corners and voila! Your very own large, sand-free zone, with walls (handy for those with crawlers). For those with older kids you can take a single fitted sheet for them and they get their very own fort. Available from Tesco Direct or any good home store.
5. Bimbles, starting at £45
A cheeky plug? Why not! Our shoes have been worn in Malaysia, Bali, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Southern France, safe to say some VERY hot climes. The feedback (and personal experience) has always been amazement at the sweat-less feet. The powers of real-leather mean that the shoes are completely breathable and just as functional as sandals in warm weather, and in fact the perfect travel shoe, as the transition from cool UK to stuffy airplane to warm holiday destination can be seamlessly navigated with one shoe. Your little one can even sleep in them (ours regularly do). Plug over (sorry!).
6. Suction Cup Sippy Strap, Chunks Baby Junk, £7.50
Here’s another great idea – a tiny little strap that means you have one less thing to worry about at any given time. This is essentially a strap with a suction cup attached to it, as the name suggests. Tie it around your little one’s cup and stick the suction cup onto the airplane tray table, restaurant highchair, car window and you’ll never have to deal with that awkward moment where another adult spots your child throwing their sippy cup on the floor and you have to make attempts to wipe it/dust it off (only knowing that the whole farce is to be repeated seconds later)/pretend it didn’t fall on the sippy bit. Plus it’s useful at home, too. Available at Etsy.com.
Here’s to happy holidays!