Mum Guilt – Going on holiday without your kids!

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In the first half of the Easter holidays I went on holiday to New York with my mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and Amy.

Noticed anything in that above sentence?

That’s right – no children!

My girls-only trip was a bit of a treat for me after having Olivia at home for 7 months, and dealing with all of the rubbish that comes with your spouse being deployed for so long.

At the end of that period of time last year, it’s obvious that I was GASPING for a break, and so our little break to the US was booked!

But, actually, I missed my little girl like CRAZY.

She’s been going through these super cute phases recently, and her personality is really shining through. She comes out with adorable little sayings, and she is changing by the day. She’s also been all over mummy recently (in a really sweet and loving way), which made leaving her so much harder! I almost wish she could have been really badly behaved at least for a day or two before I went so that I wouldn’t have felt so guilty about leaving… but, to be honest, we all know that the “mum guilt” would have hit me sooner or later anyway.

This was the first time I’d left Olivia and gone abroad without her, but she has spent plenty of time away from me before! She’s spent a week or more with her nanny down in Kent without me there, which is longer than the amount of time I was away for my New York trip! For some reason, this got to me more than those times. Honestly, I think it’s because I was doing something for me…

It’s kind of inevitable isn’t it? The mummy guilt eats away at you WHENEVER you treat yourself to anything. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. We live in a world of amazing technology, and your child isn’t going to remember that for a period of 5 days when they were 2 you were on holiday and only speaking to them on FaceTime.

It doesn’t make it any easier, and it is rough leaving them. You worry about EVERY SINGLE THING that they are doing without you. I know my husband is perfectly capable, but with Olivia’s time being split between daddy and granddad while I was away, it made me feel better to set out a week’s worth of outfits for her so that I at least knew she’d be dressed every day! She probably subsisted on pasta and cheese for the entire time, breakfast, lunch and dinner alike, but she was eating – I knew there was food in the cupboard! I planned a little day out for her and granddad when he took over babysitting duties, again making me feel better that she had something to do while I was away.

And when I got back? I had such big cuddles from her and was given so much love! She had clearly missed me (I was worried both that she wouldn’t miss me at all and that she would miss me too much and wouldn’t handle it well, both of which did not happen), and the cuddles were the best thing to come home to. I felt refreshed, I felt more like ME, and Olivia had a break from me too. After all, she must get tired of the same old routine as well.

Although she hadn’t gone away anywhere, it was as much an exciting break for her as it was for me (or so I keep telling myself!)

No major disaster happened while I was away, and, yes, things may go wrong, but probably very rarely! If you know they’re well looked after, there’s really nothing to worry about.

I hope this post is reassuring someone who was feeling as awful as I was the couple of days before I flew out!

Have you been abroad on your own (no kids in tow)? What did you find helpful to push that mum guilt to the side?

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Travelling with a toddler… How bad can it be?

When I’m out in the car with my daughter for a bit longer than she has the patience for being stuck in a car seat for, then I’ll get the high pitched screaming alarm or a frustrated hissy fit. She doesn’t hold on to her toys in the car for longer than five seconds before hurling them somewhere. With that in mind, she does pretty well to keep herself entertained most of the time on our car journeys, but it doesn’t stop me feeling a little anxious if I’m stuck out for longer than I intended, especially after I had a particularly bad car drive on the motorway… I will admit I haven’t really ventured away too far from home with Imogen and I do try to stick to some sort of daily routine. So when we decided to go abroad, I was left thinking how on earth we would cope with a toddler on a plane trip.

It seems silly now in hindsight of our holiday that I was a bit worried, but it’s because toddlers are so unpredictable, as you all know!

Perhaps you’re waiting to go away somewhere or you’re unsure of how you would cope… Please don’t let it put you off!

Think of when you need to leave for the airport and then add extra time! You just know that with kids, that something is going to happen… a last minute stinky nappy or a refusal to get ready. I never get out of the door on time anymore anyway, so despite feeling super prepared we didn’t leave home until later than our plan to.

On the motorway we were diverted off course due to road works and the sat nav took us through town after town. Watching the time ticking by, I’m not going to lie, I thought we weren’t going to be leaving the country at all, but in an attempt to keep my partner calm I kept saying just drive safe, it will be fine. At the end of the day, it’s not worth putting our lives at risk to catch a flight. Imogen slept the whole car journey and I’m glad we picked an early flight for this reason. At least she wasn’t adding to our stress.

Once we got to the airport there was no time to shop, we were racing through the airport and got to the boarding gate with 20 minutes to spare before it shut! We could finally sit and relax we thought. Imogen had other plans though, she wanted to run around. She most definitely did not want to sit nicely Mummy! So we had squealing and tantrums. At this point I noticed some panic stricken faces from people knowing that they were about to share a flight with a screaming toddler. This was one of the things I was a bit worried about but I thought ah yes, I’ll get her bottle ready for the flight. The milk will make everything better…

… Then it dawned on me that I hadn’t picked up the cartons of milk from the bag check. Eeek!

We were keeping Imogen as entertained and calm as possible, with my partner’s brilliant idea to download some Peppa Pig from Netflix onto his phone before we left home. This helped while the flight was delayed for almost an hour on the runway before take off.

Imogen was a bit squawky by this point on the flight and wanted to get off my lap to run around but the whole experience for her was new, exciting and strange! There was very little we could do, other than try to keep her occupied with the toys we’d packed for the flight, (one of them being a new toy that we thought she would be excited about), and once we could, we bought some snacks from the on flight drinks trolley. There were other babies and toddlers on the flight and they all did really well. Yes there was a bit of noise but if other people have a problem with that then I’m sure it’s nothing that a pair of earphones wouldn’t help with. Don’t let this worry you. Kids have as much right to travel as anyone else!

We found out once we reached our holiday destination that our relatives with a small child had to wait hours for a delayed flight the day before. I suddenly felt that our experience could have been a lot worse!

We had a lovely week with family and we were all feeling pretty sombre about the holiday ending.

When we were headed back to the airport we were stuck in traffic and I think the constant stopping and starting was what caused Imogen to be very sick all over herself. I was cleaning her up and once we got to the airport I was able to change her into fresh clothes. So I think in future I will remember to keep a spare change in our cabin bag.

We then had a forgotten Toot Toot dog set off the scanner for our hand luggage, which caused us a bit of delay but at least it gave the staff a few giggles! We again got to the boarding gate with very little time to spare… 10 minutes this time! But the strange thing is, we were so much more relaxed. When we were queueing to board the plane we were told our cabin bags would have to go into the hold! So on the flight back we didn’t have all the toys and entertainment that we had on the trip there. This time though we had the trusty milk and Imogen fell asleep for the whole flight home.

When we returned to the car, thinking all had gone pretty well and feeling eager to get home, we found our car had a flat tyre in the airport car park! We wouldn’t be home for another 5 hours! Instead of worrying though, we took it in our stride and managed to get it sorted, despite having no phone, (the battery died) and being somewhere unknown.

What I learned from our trip was that we coped. We could have spent ages planning for the trip and things still wouldn’t have gone to plan. What happened though wasn’t really so bad! I’m so glad we went abroad with Imogen and now I know I won’t worry so much about travelling again. Perhaps we’ll go further away next time. Maybe I will try doing longer car journeys or a train trip on my own? I feel far more confident for next time.

Top tips for mums planning a wedding and honeymoon

Weddings take so much planning as they are. When you factor in children things can get messy. Here are some tips to help your day run smoothly.  #Wedding #Bride #FlowerGirl #KidsAtWeddings #WeddingPlanning #Babies #Toddler

Wedding

Last Tuesday I tied the knot and became a wife! Crazy, I know. At the ripe old age of 22, I have taken myself securely off the market… Sorry, lads.

The day was absolutely wonderful, and I am amazed with how well my darling 17 month old daughter coped with all the late nights and lack of sleep. However, having her around did make certain pre-wedding things slightly more stressful, so if you can learn from my experiences, I hope it makes it much easier for anyone else in the same boat!

1. Don’t attempt dress fittings with clingy children…

For my final fitting before the big day, myself and 3 bridesmaids all had to get to the bridal shop for final tweaks and adjustments. You would think that, in this situation, there are enough bridesmaids to go around to entertain the little one while mummy had her fitting. Except 2 of them were 50 minutes late, with no explanation. This is more of a choose reliable bridesmaids tip than a parenting one, but the struggle that occurred while I was in my dress and the baby was screaming for a cuddle (overtired, as usual) was awful and made even the seamstress upset! Both myself and Olivia could have been saved a lot of tears if she had simply been left with Daddy for the day.

2. Try not to upset their routine too much…

After a week of being away from home, Olivia was more than happy to go to her own bed, with her teddy and her nightlight, and went to sleep straight away with no fussing at all. You know how, when you stay in a hotel too long and you can’t wait to get home and sleep in your own bed? Well, it seems like babies feel that too. To avoid spending too long away from home, plan the wedding locally! I think the whole saga would have been far more manageable for us if we had a local wedding and were in our own place right up until the wedding day, with Olivia only spending the honeymoon (4 nights) in a different bed outside of her normal routine.

3. Have clear childcare plans for the wedding night…

You may think this goes without saying, but maybe not for those without kids. If you’re relying on bridesmaids/friends rather than a childminder or babysitter, make sure they know exactly what will need doing. My anxiety was triggered a lot on the wedding day and night, purely through not knowing who was looking after Olivia when, and from having to save her from falling down the stairs multiple times. It also took one of our lovely (fellow parent) guests to swoop in and offer to change her nappy for us, a small act of kindness that saved me deserting the wedding party and wiping a bare bottom in my wedding dress!

4. Have entertainment ready for the morning of the wedding…

Hectic as it is anyway, it’s even more hectic in a small space with a baby running around and 7 bridesmaids. Mum-in-law was quick to the rescue by plonking the little ones in a bath together with bath crayons and bubbles, keeping them entertained for a significant portion of the morning! And, of course, bath time means bedtime! So little Olivia slept for a couple of hours afterwards, leaving us to get ready in peace!

5. Do take your baby to the wedding rehearsal…

I think that Olivia going to the rehearsal with us made her far happier on the day of the wedding. She knew what was where, and we only had one mishap with her attempting an escape route up to the altar! Other than that, she was perfectly behaved, and mainly stayed in the child-friendly area of the church filled with toys!

Honeymoon

My first tip here is not to take the kids with you – we learned that the hard way! But in all seriousness, if, like us, you want to share your holiday as a family, here are some tips and tricks to make the journey as hassle-free as possible!

1. Pay to take your buggy in the hold luggage, or plan to take one with you…

We made the mistake of assuming Olivia would be perfectly fine to walk about everywhere, not factoring in her exhaustion from all of the late nights she had in preparation for the wedding! As soon as we got to Barcelona, we realised that it wasn’t going to work without a buggy. Happy as she is to walk around, the need for sleep caught up with her and Back Pack Baby in Barcelona were saviours in our hour of need!

2. No amount of snacks is enough for the plane…

I bought 5 packets of Heinz baby biscuits, and 3 packets of Olivia’s favourite fruity bear paw prints. Almost all of that was gone on the outward journey, but luckily she found a hobby in opening and shutting the window blind on the plane, sat on Kiera’s lap. The way back was less easy going, due to having 2 grumpy, whiney children. Olivia managed to get about half an hour of sleep on the plane before her ears began popping in her sleep and obviously making her uncomfortable. Once she woke up and had her remaining snacks, she was her normal self, covered in chocolate and kicking to be free from restraint.

3. Have a nappy plan…

After we had to make an unscheduled nappy change in the early hours of this morning, when Olivia decided it would be super fun to pull hers off and wee on the bed (TWICE), we were left nappy-less by the time we boarded the plane. Of course, Olivia being Olivia, she decided that mid-flight was the best time to poo, and so we had a mad dash through passport control to find a pack of nappies that were definitely too small but had to make do until we could get anywhere else! Wherever you’re going, look up baby supplies before you go, and make sure you’re familiar with sizes. I had no idea where to start and thus we were stuck in this predicament!!!

FINAL TIP:

Enjoy it! Even if you may have some horrific moments, try to cherish the good ones and make lasting memories. Not everything goes as planned, but what I’ve realised is
that I’m lucky to have my new husband, who is particularly talented at turning rubbish times into great ones. I love him and our little family, and we all enjoyed our little trip to Barcelona, even if it was a bit hectic!

That’s it from me today! Share your experiences below!

Mummies Waiting
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