I recently went on a little holiday to Queensland with my family. It was hilarious; like watching the Griswald family get ready for Christmas. Why is it that you can never fully pull your shit together when you have a toddler in tow?
We left Melbourne on Christmas Eve at 8 pm. My hubby Reggie had a huge hangover from his work Christmas party the night before and he had had to work the whole day, leaving me to pack (probably a good thing in hindsight). During the day, Alfie had a massive stack, scoring a huge egg on his forehead. To calm down the tears, I decided to get him to help me pack.
Packing a bag with a toddler is a nightmare. It’s probably the worst activity. Ever. Reggie arrived home just before 6 pm, half an hour before we had to leave for the airport. My step sister, who was housesitting our home, arrived earlier. She witnessed the comical Benny Hill-style performance of Reggie, Alfie and I trying to get our shit together to get to the airport on time on Christmas Eve.
When we arrived at the carpark joint, I struggled to put Alfie in the shuttle bus kiddie car seat. The bus was full of anxious travellers glaring at me to get my shit together so they could get to their flights on time. I was so aware of them watching me, that I became really self conscious and I accidently got Alfie’s thigh pinched in the seat belt. Once I calmed down his tears, I had to climb over him to get to my seat and I scratched his face with my kiddie backpack, bringing him to a near bawling state. The passengers stared at me, judging me in my stonewash jeans and loose bra strap.
We arrived at the airport and had to check in quickly in order to make our flight, Alfie squirming and thrashing about on my hip the whole time (he hates being carried this week). We ran for our flight and finally sat down in our seats and I strapped our 14-kilogram kid to my seat belt. He lasted four seconds before he was bored and started arching his back and planking, making that ‘erch eech eeeeerk’ noise.
We took off and he thought being on a plane was the most exciting thing in the world. Reggie looked at me and I shook my head at him and we let him run loose on the plane. I never thought we would be those parents with the annoying child on a flight, but here we were, letting him say hello to all the other passengers, letting him touch their legs, letting him show them the food in his mouth, letting him drive his train down the aisle, letting him talk to the hostesses at the back of the plane. He was having a great time.
I, on the other hand, was frustrated. Reggie was as cool as a cucumber, as always. I asked him why he was so freaking relaxed (the hangover had worn off). He told me it was because he had lowered his expectations of our family.
If he had said this to me pre-Alfie, I would have thrown a beer in his face. But, this time, I was totally on board. From that second, I lowered my expectations. We lowered our expectations for the whole holiday. We treated the week-long journey as an ‘anything goes’ occasion.
We met my family at the airport and they were pumped to see The Kid. We let him run to them. He passed out in the car on the way to our rented apartment, and woke up when we arrived – we didn’t give a shit. Normally, this out of context awake-after-8:30 pm activity would have driven us bonkers. Instead, we let him watch Die Hard (Christmas classic) with us and run around the new space. He was asleep by 11 pm.
The whole week went like this: no routine, no set naps, no schedule, no plans, no sense of time. It was ace to be on the beach at 6 am just as much as it was ace to sip juices at the Big Pineapple in the middle of the day and let Alfie snooze in the pram while we watched the crocs at Australia Zoo.
It was awesome. Then we came home. Then I went back to work. Now it seems that we may have shot ourselves in our little toes. It took a full week to get Alfie to go to bed before 8:30 pm.
We’ve learnt our lesson. Expectations can be lowered, but don’t mess with that 7:30 pm bedtime slot. Seriously. Don’t do it. We now cruise, but let him snooze – or we loose.
A happy new year to all the inner west parentals. May this year be busy, full, explosive, loving, radical, sparkly and full of loads of ZZZs.