Last week my daughter turned 4. Every birthday she’s had has felt monumental, in its own way, but this one felt like a biggie to me. You hear 4 year old and you think, school child. This birthday marks the beginning of the end of her time at home with us. We’re counting down now to the day when she’ll be setting off into the world of education. She’ll have a whole life away from her family, which is exciting and terrifying in equal measures.
As the big day approached, I decided I wanted to do something special for her. Since her brother arrived last year, we’ve had very little time just the two of us, so we planned a little trip away. Her requests were; a train ride, a hotel with a pool, in a city. We had such fun organising it; browsing hotel websites, checking out attractions, planning what we’d have to pack. It felt lovely that it was a real joint project, and perhaps a little glimpse into the future relationship we might have together.
Preparing to go was a total breeze compared to even a minor outing with both children. No nappies, no changing bag, no sling… Just one rucksack, for both of us, and we were off! Travelling was similarly liberating. Strolling along without a buggy, hopping on and off of trains and buses, using escalators and stairs rather than searching for lifts. Simple pleasures!
I really enjoyed the opportunity to be able to chat and play games with my daughter (without everything being grabbed, licked and thrown). We had time. Rather than being distracted by household chores, we lounged around in our room together, reading and playing pictionary. Instead of rushing to and from nursery, swimming lessons and appointments we explored the city. She began to learn how to dive in the pool, because we had nowhere else to be. It was my first experience of my daughter being a friend, and in turns out she’s good company!
She’s not, however, a good bed buddy. If you’re ever tempted to have a similar trip with your little one I’d strongly recommend that you request a twin room! Oh. My. Goodness. The wriggling, the snoring, the mumbling. My hopes of a long, uninterrupted nights sleep were being dashed minute by noisy minute! The only recompense was the opportunity to doze in the morning while she watched the giant TV.
I did miss the littlest one, and felt a terrible pang when my husband told me that he’d been roaming around the house, looking for me. But, just as it was good for us to have our trip, it was also good for them to have some time together. We’re now ensuring that we plan days where we each have 1:1 time with the children. Chances to do more age appropriate activities with them (1 year olds and playmobile are not a happy combination) and give them our undivided attention. And hopefully, by her 5th birthday, my daughter will be keener on hanging out in the jacuzzi and better at having lie ins!