When Baby Lighty was 9 weeks old, Mr and Mrs Lighty clearly took leave of their senses and decided to pack up their entire house (or at least that’s how it felt at the time) and travel to Scotland for the wedding of good friends. Packing for Scotland, and then again for Centerparcs and a weekend in Sussex, it really did feel like we were taking everything and the kitchen sink with us each time. Nothing was spared; we had all sorts of items, from the Moses basket through to the Perfect Prep Machine, depending on where and when we were going.
But now that Baby Lighty is a toddler, did we really need to take so much with us this time? And if we did, were we going to take the same old things, or had his needs changed?
1. For Germany in August 2016, the Prep Machine was no longer a requirement. As Baby Lighty’s only having his bedtime bottle nowadays, we decided that we’d do things the ‘old fashioned way’ and just use the kettle to prepare his feeds. This did, of course, mean that Mrs Lighty’s baby brain had to be in fine form to remember to boil the water in advance (!), but on the whole it was fine. By the time Holland rolled around at New Year, Baby Lighty had stopped drinking formula altogether and was just on cows’ milk, so we didn’t even have to take the formula; a two pint of milk sufficed!
2. We also didn’t bother to take the sterilising bucket on either trip. Technically, past the age of one, you don’t actually need to sterilise anything and everything, although up until recently we have tended to sterilise still simply because a) Baby Lighty was still having formula for his bedtime bottle, which meant that I liked to make sure the bottles are completely bacteria free, and b) we’ve had tonnes of Milton sterilising tablets that need using up!! However, to save packing space, we decided that for Germany, as he only has one bottle a day now, we’d just wash them as we went along and then sterilise once we got home. During our longer trip to Holland, we actually washed the bottles in the dishwasher, which I felt sterilised them enough.
3. Now that Baby Lighty is a proper toddler, we find ourselves looking for child friendly accommodation. This meant that we didn’t have to take any sort of portable highchair, and the apartments we hired came with stairgates and a cot. Our German apartment even had a play pen, change table, a small selection of toys and plastic cutlery, just to make things super easy!
4. A rookie mistake we made on our first trip abroad was not keeping any toys to hand for the Channel Tunnel crossing. I’m not sure why we didn’t think about this, but then I guess in so many ways Mr and Mrs Lighty are still rookies. 35 minutes is a looooong time when you’ve got a child on your lap with nothing to entertain them bar the dashboard!! Luckily Baby Lighty was quite content waving “hiya!” at everyone that passed by the window and our friends’ children’s birthday party music playlist came to the rescue (thanks Mrs Newmy!). On the way back, and for our trip to Holland, we kept some small toys and books to hand and he sat happily on my lap reading with me for the duration of the journey.
5. For the first time last summer, we didn’t take the bouncy chair away with us. Baby Lighty naps in his cot now at home, and because we were going to be out of routine anyway, he mostly just napped in his buggy or sling when out and about.
6. We knew that we’d be using our Connecta baby carrier wherever possible during these trips, and so we decided to pack just our rucksack change bag as this can either be worn whilst one of us is wearing Baby Lighty, or fits easily over the buggy handles. We made sure that we kept a sling within reach within the car as it came in handy at the motorway services and during one of our pitstops en route home in Ypres. We’ve made the mistake before of having the sling and / or the baby wearing backpack buried under the mountains of
crap useful baby kit in the boot (see: the Centerparcs post), so we made sure it was nearby for these car journeys. The sling is also handy for those times when we needed to fashion a makeshift highchair!
7. Toddler reigns: love them or loathe them, they are small enough to fit in a coat or bag pocket, are great for letting your little one stretch their legs during a motorway pitstop without them being able to run out in front of cars, and again, make for great highchair harnesses if you have a toddler like Baby Lighty who’s prone to trying to climb out of his seat! We forgot to take them to Germany with us, but realised what a must have they were by the time we went to Holland!
8. The ‘sandwich bag packing tip’ is still a useful one, although you do need to buy the biggest size ziplock bags for toddler sized clothes. But it’s so much easier having all of his little outfits to hand in one place rather than having to rummage through the case all the time for a tiny pair of socks!
9. Toys! Small babies don’t really need toys, but toddlers definitely do! We took a plastic storage box full of toys on both trips. Each time we made sure that we took a variety of different things, ensuring that they weren’t toys with small parts that could get lost easily. I packed similar items together within yet more ziplock sandwich bags; play food in one, dinosaurs in another, etc. This also made it handy to take a ‘pack’ of toys out with us as entertainment when going out to eat!
So that was packing; not much different to packing for a baby, but definitely pared down. What was harder than packing this time round, we felt, was the organisational side of things. I was so worried in the lead up to both holidays that we were going to be faffing around on the morning of departure to the extent that we’d miss our tunnel crossing!
With that in mind, we decided to do as much as possible the night before, making sure that the fiddly things like filling the little tubs of formula were done, gathering together any toiletries and / or medication and putting all of our food supplies in the cool bag ready within the fridge, so that we could just grab it at the last minute. I also made a list of all of those things that you can’t pack until the morning of departure so that we didn’t forget anything in our dash out the door. All fairly obvious points but they are usually the points that we tend to not do and that’s why we end up faffing!
So there we have it; you live and learn from previous mistakes and I’m sure the next time we go away, our requirements (and mistakes!) will have changed again! I’d love to hear any tips you may have, please leave any advice in the comments below!
In the meantime, perhaps we need another holiday, you know, just to fine tune our skills?!
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