Last week Duncan and I packed up our little family, teddy bears and all, left our house in complete disarray and drove. We drove for ten hours, including toddler running breaks, all for the sake of a beach fix. Every now and then I crave the salty breeze and the relaxed notion of the beach side life, and after the madness and mayhem of Christmas, our annual family gathering couldn’t have come fast enough.
We have now done this trip three times with Leo. Six if you count each individual trip. Ten hours in the car with a child six times, we must be mad. The first trip, a six-week old new-born, Leo slept, breastfed and then slept some more, so the travel time was seemingly easy. Second time round, a small ten month old toddler, was not so easy but not so bad at the same time. With snacks and toys on hand the times between backseat sleeps were managed. Now, third time not so lucky, proved the hardest, or maybe I am just remembering it that way because it is still fresh?
Leo seemed slightly more surrounded even though we had managed to pack less (ditching the pram for a baby carrier) and the awake to sleep ratio had completely flipped. Leo is used to the car, we live in a town where we hardly know anyone so we travel a lot, Leo knows the excitement of seeing something new out his window, this excitement however tends to wear off after the third hour of dry grassy paddocks. The trip up was manageable, maybe the thrill of knowing what was waiting for us helped, but the trip home, always the nastier trip, was an absolute battle, filled with sickness, tears and screaming like you wouldn’t believe.
So, you may ask, if the trip is so horrible why not go somewhere closer? Find a new happy beach place to visit? Well the answer to that is simple, we drive all that way and we put up with our grumpy traveller because it is worth it. Despite the drive and the stress Leo’s tears cause me, we have learned a thing or two about travelling along the way, like the importance of easy on hand snacks, toys and the wonder of the selfie function on our phones. I would happily pack up the car again and be off again tomorrow if I could.
We have done this trip three times and I know we will do it again. Each trip is has been so different from the last. Trip one, six week old Leo, slept and when he woke we were hard pressed to even get a cheeky smile from him. Trip two, the weather was not as warm, the water was still a bit fresh for swimming. Trip three was by far the best yet. We discovered that the ocean is way better than the bath and that the demolition of sand castles grants oneself even greater power than the demolition of blocks in the lounge room, especially when Dad has worked so hard on the perfect sand castle. We tasted fresh fish and chips for the first time and even felt the slippery scales of a salmon caught off the beach.
So when I think of that ten hour drive we will be doing in a years time, I am not worried. I know it will be hard and I am sure our distraction techniques may need to change, the travelling may even get worse but I am not going to give up my holidays just because I became a mother. Besides, if the last three times are anything to go by, the holidays are only going to get better.