My name is Lucy. I’m 34 and I run my own consultancy for startups. In a former life, my Sunday sermon was a Bikram yoga class. My weekdays were split between GoodGym and being a Barry’s or 1Rebel aficionado, rounded off with a cocktail (… or five).
After an emergency c-section, followed swiftly by an ankle sprain, (thanks post-pregnancy wobbly bones!) all intense exercise is out the window. Yet my mind propels me to stay busy. So, with a bit of negotiation, baby Father and I are now travelling for two and a half months on shared parental leave with our now six month old baby. Are we crazy? Probably. But with a few tips and tricks it is completely doable and moreover, I’d highly recommend it.
From folding prams and modesty ponchos, to tupperwares of Earl Grey and bottles of wine, here’s 20 tips for how to make life a bit more bearable when travelling with a baby…
1. Download a spotify playlist: No-one wants to be struggling for wifi as you try and sooth your baby to sleep.
2. Snack bag: A hungry Mama a long happy journey does not make.
3. Capsule wardrobe: Don’t take anything that’s not a necessity e.g. you don’t have time/need your hair straighteners so switch this for a baby thermometer.
4. Medicine: Yes, there will be a pharmacy wherever you go but you don’t want to be asking for a snot sucker, in French, at lunchtime (WHEN EVERYTHING CLOSES FOR THREE HOURS!)
5. Rucksack: Changing bags are overpriced shoulder breaking bullshit. We stuff a rucksack which we already had and can fit a TONNE of stuff in as a day bag.
6. A light pram: The only thing we purchased brand new is the Babyzen Yoyo. It folds down super easily and is well priced. It’s also allowed in the overhead locker!
7. Poncho: I personally don’t care about whipping a boob out in public but if it’s a bit nippy (… excuse pun) then a poncho is good for a warm cheeky breast feed. Also, it doubles up as a blanket for emergency sleep situ’s.
8. March to the beat of your baby’s metronome: When we know he will be wide awake we will go for a walk, museum, art gallery or have a play when he sleeps, drive, drive, drive.
9. Avoid rush hour: This is an important one. Crowded trains, planes, buses, traffic are NOT your friend. And they definitely don’t like your baby either. Travel at off peak at ALL Times.
10. Take a break: If you are with your baby 24/7 (and your partner) you 100% will go mad. (I refer to an unmentionable meltdown in Paris). If you have room (make room), squeeze in a pair of leggings so you can escape for a run or yoga. If all else fails, go for a walk or find a quiet space to meditate.
11. Home comforts: Mine is a tupperware of Earl Grey tea and another of sugar. Wherever we are it means I can always have a good brew.
12. Delegate roles and don’t deviate: After six weeks we are a well oiled machine at travelling together but you need to project manage who does what. The worst thing is for one of you to say “why are you doing it like that?” so once a task is assigned stay the hell away. Evidently, I now know I can’t and never will pack a car as well as baby father.
13. Emergency supplies of nappies & wipes x 2: Needed for obvious reasons but nappies also turn out to have multiple uses. For me, that was my first period post pregnancy catching me unawares at a zoo and 40 minute walk from civilisation having already bled through my jeans. One nappy later and I was much more comfortable with my new panty liner, in fact slimmer than a maternity pad but just as absorbent.
14. Don’t try to do too much: We stay a minimum three nights in one destination when abroad. You need at least one day to unwind after a couple of hours travel.
15. Bedroom door: A rooky error without this one. If booking accommodation this is essential you want to be able to cook, eat, drink or talk to your partner once you have put baby down for the night.
16. Bottle of wine: Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how organised, calm and happy you are – it’s just plain hard. After a nightmare journey and once baby has gone to sleep, you will need a glass. I promise.
17. Condoms: Or whichever method of contraception you use. Outside the comfort of your home you are more inclined to get back on that wagon. I am thrilled to be a parent with my first born. But also evidence that pull out and pray doesn’t work.
18. Routine props: If in the car we take the baby bath – a final play at the end of the day wears him out and is part of his bedtime routine. We tried in the kitchen sink once and he looked at us like we had stripped away all his dignity. Which was sort of fair enough.
19. Selfie stick: Sounds lame but sometimes when you are in the middle of nowhere and you would like to be included in the photo rather than “another shot of Dad & baby”, this is great way to fit in the whole fam.
20. A good sense of humour: When the going gets tough, you HAVE to laugh. All three of us have had our moments on this trip but we try and find the fun in every situation.
Lucy Werner is founder of the Wern PR and is currently working remotely whilst travelling across France with her French partner who is on shared parental leave. You can view postcard snippets of their travels on www.londonfamille.com