After Molly was born, the time we spent as a family was a bit of a blur. We invited visitors from when she was a couple of days old, because I was adamant we needed to be ‘up and running’ as soon as possible because we needed to keep Harrison in his routine. Despite this, I still felt we’d missed out on important family bonding time, just us four. So, with that in mind, I booked us a break away to Center Parcs for around the time of my birthday.
Our break was upon us. It took pretty much all day to get packed up and out the door, but in truth, I quite liked it like that. It meant we could take our time packing and make sure we had everything. It also allowed me to get 100% up to date with all my washing, as we were to find out that we needed every spare amount of clothing/muslins/baby bedding…I had to google to double check that the villas at Center Parcs definitely didn’t have washing machines, which freaked me out a bit!
We had an amazing time away and whilst we didn’t get the break we were quite accustomed to having, when we went on holiday as a couple, or even with just one child, we had some much needed time together to bond and get to know each other as a family of four! Here are a few things I learned along the way…
1. Plan, plan, plan!
Being a teacher, planning is pretty much an inbuilt part of me (I’m probably a slight control freak too) I was really keen not to waste the precious time we had there on procrastinating about what to do each day. I knew how many days we were to be away for, so I put together a loose plan for the week. I booked a few things in advance and also planned our meals for the week. We did a click and collect Tesco order which James (my hub) collected shortly after we’d arrived, to avoid paying hefty prices in the shop on site! We swam every day, despite none of us being huge fans of the water. The kiddy splash park was ace. We went bowling (quite tricky with a strong willed 16 month old, who ended up chasing the ball down the lane every time!) and did a Mucky Pups session with Harrison – both expensive activities but were fun additions to the week.
2. Keep an element of routine – for everyone’s sanity!
Both babies were awake by 6:30 most days, very much in line with their normal routine at home. (They didn’t get the memo that we were supposed to be on holiday!) Apart from one day when we went for brunch, we ate breakfast at the villa. We went swimming or walked in the morning and came back to the villa so that both babies could have a substantial nap. The evening routine was kept very much the same for us, although most nights we deviated away from normal bed time.
3. Take charge of one child each
This is a bit of a no brainer. How people cope with three or more children, I’ll never know (although maybe I might find out, one day! Not any time soon though – I’d rather not give James a heart attack) In general this is how we manage looking after two tiny humans. In most cases, James finds Harrison easier to manage, particularly as Molly still needs to be strapped to my boob most of the day. It’s pretty much decided, who has which baby. Never mind the fact that Harrison absolutely adores being with his Daddy and was in his shadow 90% of the time across the week! Having one each was especially useful in the changing rooms for swimming. The facilities are great, but rather than squeeze all of us in one cubicle (‘family’ size is definitely not big enough) we flew solo with each baby and had separate lockers. The biggest challenge was trying to go for a wee with Molly. There weren’t any baby change/toilets. This is something I HATE as I usually try to tie in changing with going for a wee myself…I follow Motherpukka on insta and she recently did a post about having to wee in the sink of a baby change ‘facility’ because she was so desperate and there quite simply, was nowhere to put the baby so she could relieve herself! It drives me NUTS!
4. Take new toys
Harrison is a monkey. He really isn’t that interested in toys and really likes ‘real’ things to play with. You know, plug sockets, door handles and as we found out in the villa, he had a particular ‘penchant’ for the timer on the cooker! With this in mind, I couldn’t face having to constantly patrol what he was up to whilst trying to relax and enjoy my break (has anyone ever managed this?!), I took a trip to home bargains and pound land before our trip to invest in some little bits and pieces to keep him occupied. Several hits of the week were: a mini tub of play dough with cutters, a little wind up robot (who knew it would be so hilarious watching it march off the edge of the table?!) and a little mini xylophone – anything noisy is a winner. I’ve now put them away for our next trip on an aeroplane in May…eek!
5. Always prepare for step 1 to go out the window, at some point!
I made a table reservation at one of the restaurants for the day previous to the day we actually went. FAIL. Blame it on the baby brain. I actually can be a bit of a flake when I’m not super organised – but hey, aren’t we all.
Things I wished I’d remembered…
Washing powder/stain remover – there were a fair few poonamis that ruined a few outfits, however I did find out that green fairy liquid is a brilliant stain remover, if used immediately after said poonami explosion – who knew?!
Enough nursing bras – sick in my bra was not a highlight, with no washing machine. I made an emergency trip to asda to try and find one, but to no avail. Must buy more.
More swimwear – we had to wash out and dry the same bits which was a pain when the heating wasn’t on all the time. Soggy crotch is not the one.
Flasks for coffee – we walked everywhere and there was a starbs right outside the swimming pool. It would have been nice to refill and take hot drinks on the move with us. Not a necessity. Just would have been nice!