Holiday! What I used to look forward to with longing has mutated into a sword of Damocles with baby. Since she was born shortly before the start of the Corona pandemic, my daughter Anni was already 1 ½ years old when we took her on holiday for the first time in the summer of 2021. And then, for the first time, instead of going to the beach or to a holiday home with a pool in Croatia, we went to the mountains - hiking with the family in Berchtesgaden. As we were clueless, we asked friends for advice and then packed our bags.
The packing list for Anni looked something like this:
- long clothing
- short clothing
- sun cream
- sun hat
- back carrier (borrowed from Caro)
- baby carrrier (just to be on the safe side, we hadn't tried the back carrier before & didn't know if she would like sitting in it)
- jackets for my husband & myself
- rain jacket
A really long list. You can imagine that our VW Golf was at its absolute limit. It was particularly difficult to fit the back carrier and stroller in. Ultimately, we could have done without them. On the first day, we did do a "stroller friendly" hike to a great suspension bridge, but in the end it didn’t quite go to plan and my husband carried our daughter almost the entire time, and she slept in his arms instead of in the stroller. And no, of course we hadn’t packed a baby carrier or a back carrier as backup. So most of the day I was pushing an empty stroller and he was carrying a cranky toddler alternately on his shoulders or in his arms. You can imagine how exhausting that was in the 30°C + weather.
After a day's break from hiking where we went to a nearby open-air swimming pool (where, by the way, our child promptly stepped on a bee... yeah), we ventured out again. This time the weather was wet & cool and we wanted to explore a gorge. Leaving the stroller at the hotel this time, we set off with the back carrier. Smarter than on our first hike, but still not quite smart enough. Our daughter loved the back carrier, however, first off it was not so easy to manoeuvre through the narrow gorge, my husband often got stuck on ledges or on the sides. Secondly, when she fell asleep, we always had to stuff a cloth or something under her head so that she didn't hang crookedly in the harness, and thirdly, she wasn't protected from the spray from the waterfall in the gorge or from the rain. She was wearing a thin rain jacket, but in the height of summer I hadn't thought of rubber boots and trousers. Her legs and head were then unprotected, while my husband and I stayed nice and dry in our mamalila jackets. Another #momoftheyear moment :D In hindsight, she would have been better off in the baby carrier under my jacket or my husband's and could have seen just as well from the back. And it would have been easier to get through the gorge. My husband also struggled a bit at first with the unfamiliar weight distribution, as the children sit so high in the back carrier and his centre of gravity changed so much as a result.
We took it easy for the rest of the holiday. We'll practice hiking as a family again. But for this year, we're going back to the sea for the time being.
What I took away from my first holiday with a child:
- Don't plan too much, rather decide the day before what you're going to do the next day.
- Be flexible: especially when the child already has a mind of its own.
- For the car journey: drive when the parents are still awake, but the child is at least partly asleep.
- Never forget the first-aid kit - even if it's for a bee sting.
- Even if the children are theoretically old enough for the back carrier: consider whether it is the right choice, especially if it is cramped or weather protection is needed.
- Leave the stroller at home if possible, it takes up an awful lot of space. It's better to have the seat next to the child free (if you only have one), so that you can sit next to them in the car and play with them.
All in all, the holiday was really great. You could tell how much Anni enjoyed having mom and dad spend the whole day with her. No household chores, no work - 100% family. I also had the feeling that it was very beneficial for her development. After the 5 intensive days, she was even brighter, more open and somehow more self-confident.