Our ‘temper tantrum’ son has left and an understandable son has returned in his place. I feel as though we’ve made it through a real mile-stone for us, as parents, and we are once again planning and packing for family vacations. I’ll add a side note about parenting at the bottom, but as always, every child is different and I just want to share what worked for us.
During the final stages of this decidedly tricky phase, we decided to visit friends in Glasgow before watching the Military Tattoo in Edinburgh (Pete’s Father’s Day gift and an excellent show).
I took the train from London to Glasgow solo with Daniel, Pete would fly up after work and meet us there. It’s about a five hour trip and I splashed out for First Class tickets, a relatively affordable upgrade, so that Daniel and I could enjoy a bit more space. Unfortunately this back-fired as the pram parking was three carriages away from our seat. I looked mournfully at the guests seated directly in front of the parking space but they stared back blankly, ignoring my logistical nightmare.
It is tricky to physically manipulate anything with a walking 13-month old who cries at the drop of a hat. I struggled to put my carry-on luggage away, I struggled to grab what I needed out of the diaper bag (next time I will simply bring the whole thing with me). And I struggled to hold a squirmy Daniel in my arms as we navigated the narrow aisles of the train. Nothing became easier when I reached our seat.
The train ride was 5 hours long and I had to think of feeding a picky baby (thankfully the picky-ness has since passed). The challenge during this phase was that former go-to favourites would be shunned and I packed a lot of food to compensate for this. (More recently we’ve stopped acquiescing and if Daniel doesn’t want to eat what we’re eating, he can choose not to, but he no longer gets another option. Since we implemented this approach we’ve found that he tries a lot more food, and over the course of a week the amount he eats evens out – plus, he’s not exactly a skinny baby).
His first milk bottle was a breeze – but after that he wanted his shoes on, then off, then on, then off… About twenty times.
Easy enough you say. Theoretically yes, but a pre-verbal son is hard to de-code and I still don’t know if this is actually what he wanted or just the only distraction technique that I tried that seemed to help. Nor did it work right away. Daniel seemed quite frazzled as I took off his shoes only to have him throw them when I tried to put them back on… Then I tried getting on the floor and reading a book, throwing a ball back and forth between my hands, a myriad of other toys and activities that seemed entertaining enough at home, only to go back to the shoes and have that calm him for a minute or two. I wanted to scream, but since that was not a viable option, I just kept singing songs that he liked over and over and over again. Row Row Row Your Boat seemed so innocuous at first… the entire carriage was tired of it before the first 30 minutes had passed.
I really don’t know what I would have done without the soother holding major chaos at bay. This is such a useful tool for parents who want to travel or spend time in public.
We then walked up and down the aisles where Daniel amused (picture people ignoring your toddler the best they can) the other train patrons with antics like trying to touch them, me pulling his hand back, and him breaking down to cry.
We also decided that playing in the doors between the carriages was fun. As was kicking the dirty nappy off the change table in the loo, and screaming as I carried him 3 carriages (only way to make decent time) to get the rest of the things, I had originally thought that I didn’t need, out of the diaper bag.
This went on until nearly lunch – me desperately trying to entertain and sooth Daniel.
Finally he ran out of steam and fell asleep on me for two hours. Being pregnant and having the bladder control of an infant myself, this was not as blissful as it sounded. But leaving him in his pram, three carriages away, wasn’t an option I was willing to entertain, and trying not to pee myself was more enjoyable than the last three hours had been.
Mercifully we eventually got to Glasgow, Daniel was alright for most of the car ride to the house, and we had a nice visit with old friends.
It was definitely worth it. Things wouldn’t have gone much smoother at home, and at least I had a purpose to my hellish day. But this certainly contributed to our cancelled trip to Sweden, and it took longer than normal to recuperate afterwards.
Keep travelling and sharing your stories with us!!
From the former, I remembered to emphasize ‘The Pause’ (an easier-said-than-done technique of letting your child sort themselves out for a bit before jumping in; the effect, initially, is feeling like a neglectful parent who isn’t rushing to the aid of a clearly emotional offspring). In our minds and from what we’ve observed with Daniel’s behavior, it actually let’s him practice frustration techniques (similar to learning how to sleep), and it’s surprising how often he’ll just get on with it within a short time.
The latter, on the other hand, reminded me that there are some big adjustments and brain-building steps toddlers are going through, and like all the phases before, I need to be patient and loving while remembering that this to shall pass.
What have your least favourite – distraction-heavy experiences been? What’s worked and what hasn’t? Share your memories with us, or be a guest blogger.