I recently enjoyed a weekend away sans my one-year-old son. When I say enjoyed, I of course missed my little boy a lot, but absolutely, totally made the most of having some time for me and a catch up with a good friend. It would have been a waste of everyone’s time and money if I’d spent the whole weekend pining. However, as a novice in the arena of child free mini-breaks, there are a few things I wish I had known before. So I’ve made this handy little tip sheet for anyone planning or pondering a weekend away, and also for next time I dabble in a mini escape. Not that I’ve thought about going away again so soon after my return. Not at all. I’ve especially not contemplated it when my son is in the midst of a full-blown toddler rage over an incorrectly peeled banana. But regardless, it’s good to be prepared.
So while the cat’s away (that’s you I think), the mouse (your child) will play and err, these are the things you should and shouldn’t do:
Savour the Silence: Or rather the background noise of a standard-class train. This is an integral part of the weekend and a chance to drink a cup of tea whilst hot, read a book without pictures in it, and stare out of the window in a blissful concentration-free haze. So whatever you do, avoid conversation. At all costs. There is no child and therefore no requirement to entertain, be enthusiastic, or sing songs (not that the passenger opposite is likely to expect songs). They might however possibly try to engage you in small talk. Horror! It is not their fault, they are just being nice and human, but it is imperative that you do not cave. Forget everything your mother taught you about manners, eye contact and social niceties and you will be fine. This is a spa day damn it – okay a drafty train journey – but still part of your precious me time. Do not sacrifice.
Lie-in: Sightseeing? Exploring? Activities? No, no, no. Your hotel bed is all the culture you need. Make the most of not having a wailing banshee for an alarm clock and give yourself up to the fluffy pillows and fresh linen. You will cherish this memory far more than a photograph of a famous building. In fact you could even take a picture; lazy bed selfie might come in handy when you’ve once again forgotten what it is to feel rested.
Travel Light: Enjoy sashaying around with a small handbag, instead of your usual grubby holdall filled with baby paraphernalia, half eaten rice cakes and toy cars smeared in Sudocrem. Marvel how when you need money, you open it, retrieve your purse straight away and close it again. Rather than opening, searching, getting Sudocrem all over yourself, forgetting what you actually needed, dropping half the overflowing contents, closing it again and realising your purse was in your hand the whole time.
Treat Yourself: Money is no object when it comes to indulging in these luxuries: chewing your food before swallowing, solo toilet visits and showering without yelling ‘No don’t touch that! Do not put your hand down there! That is not what we do with our toothbrush!’
Bask in Freedom: Not of being child-free per se, I know some don’t like to view having children as giving up freedom even though it’s true. But you most definitely have been unshackled from the chains of The Routine – go wild! Or at the very least stay out past 6 PM and stop for a coffee – okay gin – just because you can. You’ll look back fondly on this when you’re bribing your stroppy child with Pringles as you dash, harassed around the supermarket next week.
Natter Non-Stop: Obviously not suggesting a long monologue of you, which would be a bit rude (and perhaps quite dull)? But being able to ask a question then actually hear the answer and not having to halt a funny story to go and wipe someone’s bum is probably the best part of your break. Talk like the wind!
And Once Home: Disregard the fact that your child doesn’t really seem bothered by your return, or indeed to have actually noticed that you went in the first place. Definitely disregard that.
Behave Strangely: By yelling “DIGGER” when you spy one out of the train window. The grown-ups in Coach G have probably already seen it and really aren’t that bothered anyway. Same goes for sheep, cows and fire engines.
Frighten People: By staring lovingly and for a little too long at every small child you see. It’s un-nerving for them and downright scary for their parents. Not your child? Not cool.
Be a Baby Bore: By talking about your child ALL the time. Friends care, but really not that much.
Stalk the Childcare: Everything is fine; you’d be told if it wasn’t so easy on the texting. ‘Yes they ate dinner, took a nap, still know who you are and, actually, if you don’t mind I’m kind of busy looking after our son and can’t be constantly checking my phone to answer your annoying questions.’ Is a response you might eventually get, if pushed.
Forget You Can Climb Stairs: And wait for the lift for five minutes, rolling your eyes at the lengthy wait before realising you don’t have a pram with you and can use your legs to hop upstairs, just like a bunny. Or, like someone without a pram.
Get Up to Check on the Baby: Because there isn’t one present. So you definitely don’t need to look for him in the hotel bathroom. As he won’t be there, you sleepwalking weirdo.
Feel Guilty: Doing something for you and having a time-out isn’t a bad thing, and you can dish out all your saved-up kisses and cuddles upon your return. Even if they don’t actually appear to be wanted.
Please note, the ‘Don’ts’ section is for the purposes of illustrating the mistakes people might make when having a child-free break. They are purely hypothetical and not in any way based on my experience at all. Ahem.
What tips would you add to this very useless useful list? And if you’ve got a getaway in the pipeline – enjoy – and remember: absence makes the heart grow fonder. For you at least, if not for them!
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