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Before we headed away on our big holiday, things were going quite well in the toddler stakes. The Little Mister hadn’t needed a dummy (when not sleeping) in a really long time and he was toilet training like a little champion! He’d even recovered from his night time anxiety and was sleeping again after a rough few weeks (his last molar not doing us any favours with teething). Things were looking optimistic!
We’ll just give him his dummy and his giraffe blankie (“Giraffey”) when we’re in transit (on trains or planes) in the hopes he’ll nap and we’ll figure out a way to get hold of a cheap potty training aide of some sort (like a toilet seat or a portable potty) to take around the place with us for the hotels. Easy, I thought.
One thing about life is that you can never fully predict how things are going to be when you jump into the unknown. Especially when a toddler is involved!
Of course we got overseas and everything went right out the window! The Little Mister wanted his dummy EVERY minute of the day and everyone knows that Giraffey comes too! It was hard to accept because it felt like a massive backwards step for him. He was dribbling everywhere (despite not teething anymore), you couldn’t understand any of what he was saying on account of the dummy, and he was chewing on it when he was anxious, which seemed dangerous when he broke them. If I’m honest, the ‘from back home’ me was also expecting to be judged for it like I am at the bloody supermarket here. Silly, I know. If someone was to ever judge me, I should have just thought my usual mantra, “F*ck them. I know my truth,” but I think I was feeling vulnerable with the whole ‘visiting my place of birth for the first time since I was adopted’ thing. I wasn’t my fierce mama self and we were all in a crazy, new situation to adapt to. It was no surprise that the Little Mister was searching for more security and comfort too. Besides, it wasn’t even an issue in the end. No-one cared. They still thought he was incredibly cute. They saw past the dummy and blanket and that was it. A kid is a kid. In fact, it was refreshing!
May I also add that the fear of losing the one and only Giraffey was nerve-wracking haha. Our whole family group was always on Giraffey patrol which could be exhausting! Make sure he doesn’t drop it on the train tracks boarding a train! Make sure he doesn’t drop it when he falls asleep in his stroller! AAARGH! We had to rig up a complex (haha) system where Giraffey was attached by the neck to one end of a safety restraint (a wrist to wrist strap designed for parents and toddlers) and the other end hooked over the handles of the stroller (or to him when he was walking)! I have done some scary things before in my life, but nothing was as important as keeping Giraffey in one piece!!
As for toilet training, well that was a bust. We had hoped that he would toilet train when back in the hotel and that we would just use nappies when we were out and about. In our minds, we thought it would help keep his training topped up and we could just be more intensive when we got back home. I didn’t want him to forget any of the progress he had made before we left home.
In reality, this wasn’t going to happen. We were always on the go. We changed hotels every 3 days on average (sometimes more than 3 and other times less). We were always in transit. It wasn’t the ideal ‘toddler friendly’ holiday but we had so much to see and it was a group effort. The Little Mister was often overtired or looking for comfort and familiarity. He was also intimidated by grown ups’ toilets (as opposed to a smaller potty – something we had a hunch would happen before we went away). We did find a rather nifty toilet training seat at Gangneung (where my brother was born) on one of our crazy looking for ‘diapers’ missions, but would he have a bar of it? No way! He did love that the seat had Pororo (a friendly cartoon character) all over it, at least.
Not-so-helpful (or even slightly rational) thoughts ran through my head when I was tired and weary.
What if he never toilet trains again in his life?! What if he takes a dummy with him to high school?! THIS IS A DISASTER!
But let me tell you, Holiday Kez. Everything will be OK.
The Little Mister was obsessed with his dummy and Giraffey for maybe 3 days when we got home. After that? Back to normal as if nothing had happened. On our first longish outing since we’d got back, I did secretly pack them in my bag in case of an all out, ridiculous meltdown but that meltdown never happened. Awesome.
Oh, and 3 days before we headed for home, the Little Mister asked me out of the blue if he could use the toilet. And sat on it. And did a wee on cue. And was so proud of himself. I wanted to jump up and down and throw a parade, I was so proud of him!
We’ve been home a month now and toilet training is progressing. We had some accidents as he tried to adjust back to winter weather and the need to wear warm pants around the house (he now has learnt how to take them off properly and is working on going on his own without being scheduled or prompted again). It feels like we’ve started again in some ways, but it’s great because he’s a few months older than when we started and understands so much more easily. The world did not cave in on itself. I
know am hopeful that we’ll be kicking arse at it by the end of the coming summer. Everything’s coming together. Yay!
Another thing we did while we were away was to try and save money by sharing a bed with the Little Mister. We tried to get twin double rooms in some places and king sized beds in others. Sometimes I shared with the Little Mister in our own bed and other times the Unprepared Three huddled in together. We did struggle in Tokyo with a rather small bed between all of us (the cute little improvised bed we made for him on the floor was great until he woke in the night and thought he’d fallen out of bed and got back in with us EVERY TIME). He got used to being with us in bed and it comforted him as we were in all these strange places, with no room being the same as the last. When we got home? He wasn’t that anxious at all. He knew he was home and while he wanted his room floodlit (I hear it’s a pretty normal phase for this age anyway), he started to settle well within the week.
Discipline wasn’t always easy while we were away either. There’s no place for time outs – something that had been so effective at home. That was difficult. I would have to continue to cuddle him while he played up because we were stuck together, so he’d get more hyped up and think he was being rewarded for his behaviour. It made life harder for us as parents too. We had nowhere for ourselves to get away for a few minutes and cool down when we felt our patience evaporating. We’d feel shitty and be like, “UM – I’M GOING…TO THE OTHER CORNER OF THIS SAME TINY ROOM BECAUSE I’M MAD. DON’T LOOK AT ME.”
Cabin fever did become an issue!
BUT…The Little Mister has come home and is his good little self (as good as a 2 and 3/4 year old can be haha). He hasn’t suddenly become some kind of monster who will never be reformed.
GUYS, WE DIDN’T BREAK HIM!!!
Also, I learnt a lot too. I learnt to just go with it. Remind myself it’s not forever. Have faith in him. Have faith in us as parents. Not feel guilty for not being able to provide him with the creature comforts of home. Remember that this was a once in a lifetime journey and sometimes you have to compromise more. The Little Mister was SO GOOD for a two and a half year old. He adapted as well as he could, with a couple of compromises (i.e. constant bribery and sometimes fast food was the only option) and a couple of tools (dummy and Giraffey). He was happy. He loved seeing so many new things on our daily adventures. He went with the flow as best he could. He didn’t go to bed at the right times and he didn’t always have a day time nap, but he was loved and he was protected and we had a lot of help which we were grateful for. We did our best to keep him happy and catered to (which wasn’t always easy). He bonded with my parents and my brother so well and that was really special. He got to be so much more of a ‘big boy’ and do so many more things than he’d experienced at home. He loved it.
EVERYTHING IS FINE!
While it was stressful bringing a 2 year old on this kind of journey, we learnt so much. If we hadn’t taken the opportunity, citing having a toddler as an excuse (and a valid one at that), then we would never have done something so meaningful with my family and we would have never learnt so much about ourselves and about the amazing places we visited. I feel so happy that we went. I don’t regret it one bit and we feel proud. We could conquer anything now! Although, we’ll wait a few years before doing something like that again!
I will never take the fact that I live in a house (with different rooms in it) for granted again!!
I always say that you make the rules (and routines) so you can break them. This holiday was a perfect example.
Have you ever travelled with a toddler? What weird things did you worry about? Was it all smooth sailing? x