“Then suddenly, our three-year-old son simply let go of my hand, ran off, got through the barriers and started patting the Liberty Bell with a big proud smile like it was his new treasure… A second later two security guys approached me with the look on their face like we just killed someone.”
When I think about my life and how it has changed since I have children I can't stop the flow of mixed feelings. You give up so much but then you gain so much more, the whole new spectrum of feelings, love and experiences. But you also discover new level of tiredness, functioning on no sleep at all, drinking the fifth coffee in a row… or was it the sixth one? How would you even remember when you are sleep deprived and your brain can't even switch on?
Never mind, you just learn, get up and go. Then you repeat the process. It's the new level of frustration, when you actually forget about your own needs and don't make a big fuss about what is happening to you as there are two little human beings who are totally dependent on you. Those parasitic bundles of joy for whom you would do absolutely everything. They rule your world but you are THEIR world. There is no other thing more important to them than being next to you, especially during those first few years of their life so you are appreciating and contemplating those special moments like the old lady from the grocery store advised. 'Those are the most precious years of your life!'
You show them the world around and you see it through their eyes. You see the unbelievable excitement and you treasure those moments forever. I'm talking about the moments when they discover something new and the first thing they want to do is to run to you and tell you all about it. Those are the moments that are one of the reasons people want to become parents and that is what we as a family believe is pure happiness. Moments of absolute joy that are shaping our memories that we'll keep forever.
So when we travel we try to be spontaneous, we are curious, always trying to see new places but we first try to find out what could make a great trip for our children. I'd say we care more about the places that offer beautiful nature, have historic and educational value but not so much keen on the mainstream kids entertainment.
From all the trips we had the most amazing and intense was when we travelled across the USA. It was a long road trip, mixed with a few plane trips but we couldn't fit all destinations in two weeks time so we had to come back the next year. We enjoyed the beautiful fall in Maine and New Hampshire, the nature and the spirit of Halloween season was very nice. We fell in love with the Washington and New York. We checked out the beaches in Miami and drove to Orlando to catch some sun and to see the Kennedy Space Center. We saw the F1 race in Austin, Texas and we flew to San Francisco to see the Golden Gate bridge and take few rides on the famous cable car. We drove past the Death Valley and saw the General Sherman Tree at the Sequoia National Park.
All our trips were a success as we managed to keep our children happy most of the times, but most importantly safe and healthy at all times. We had a good experience and lots of fun.
We had few special and funny/quirky moments like when we were visiting the Liberty Bell Center in Philadelphia. Once we got through tough security checks we found ourselves inside the room where the Liberty Bell was kept. There it was, the iconic symbol of American Independence. Surrounded by the security barriers, armed security officers and big signs: DO NOT TOUCH! Then suddenly, our three year old son simply let go of my hand, ran off, got through the barriers and started patting the bell with a big proud smile like it was his new treasure… A second later two security guys approached me with the look on their face like we just killed someone. First time someone called me a “ma'am” and it was scary! Lesson learned? To keep your children close at all times.
Yes, we've seen some places and it's so much different travelling once you have kids. You just have to forget the fancy restaurants, things like posh and trendy events. It's not even the price issues. It's the total mess and destruction after your meal when you leave the table. Plus kids are not allowed everywhere.
Forget about your fancy dress and high heels when packing up the suitcase - you won’t need them. Plus, it won't fit as you HAVE to take your boy's three wheel scooter. Yes, it seems like it takes a lot of space in your suitcase but remember: it folds, it is that wonderful travel device that will save your trip. You'll be able to walk for hours, explore all the sites with pavements and your child can keep up with you without complaining. If you still feel sorry about that dress then try to imagine yourself in that dress, wearing high heels and carrying your three year old in your arms everywhere at your perfect holiday destination.
Talking about travel essentials, it's good to mention that you can't underestimate a good jogging pram for your less mobile travel companions. It will have to have it's own, proper travel bag if you're flying otherwise it won't survive the first trip. But even more convenient than the pram is a good baby sling. It's light and compact, your baby is close to you and if you are breastfeeding your baby is fed and hydrated on the go, constantly wherever you go. Remember that it can strain your back, it should feel comfortable when you walk a lot. If your back hurts after around twenty - thirty minutes wearing it then it's not a good sling. It's best to check your local sling library before you buy one. You'll be able to compare and try few yourself and you'll get lots of advice and support.
We are excited before our next trip. Can't stand the English weather anymore! However, there will be five of us by the end of July 2016. A baby girl is on it's way to join our family and once she'll get her passport we're pretty much ready to explore, be curious and make new memories again. Happy days!
Originally from Poland, Iwona has lived in the UK for almost 11 years now. She's a busy mum of two boys, with a baby girl on the way. Her hobbies include music, books, yoga and healthy living. What she loves most about travel is seeing how her family connects with new people and places. It's amazing how children can engage and bond with almost anyone, no matter their age, nationality or language.
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