I used to think that finding baby-friendly places to visit was hard enough, but now I am discovering it was nothing compared with a semi-potty trained toddler.
In the early days of motherhood day trips were all about finding somewhere that would never be far away from a suitably private spot to whip out the milk at the drop of a hat. I remember many a time frantically scanning the landscape for somewhere to dive into to end the screams that seemed to suggest that my baby was about to explode unless she got some sustenance in the next few seconds.
Another challenge was making sure that the nice smooth path you were merrily pushing your pram along did not suddenly descend into a steep set of steps, that in your sleep deprived state thought you might give a go, before ending up stuck half way down, unable to continue or return.
But now I have found that that was basically a walk in the park compared to venturing out with a freshly (or more like barely) potty-trained toddler.
I now wake in a panic hearing the dreaded phrase “I need a poo” ringing in my ears.
What that translates as is: “You have precisely five seconds to get me to a toilet otherwise I am going to do one here right on the floor in front of all these nice respectable people enjoying a civilized walk around this historic National Trust property.”
If I didn’t know better I might almost think my daughter has a tick list, as she seems to only save herself for the most worthy spots.
So far this week, she has deposited a gift in the middle of the cafe of Alnwick Garden and on a 2,000 year old Roman ruin on Hadrian’s Wall. I suppose over the course of history it has seen worse.
Do they do poop-a-scoops for kids?
Packing is not my strong point.
It takes me half a day, involves lists, various piles and bags that fill the car to the roof and yet somehow when I arrive at the other end and unpack I’ve always forgotten something.
I know mums who have an amazing knack of being able to pluck whatever you could possibly need from their neat, stylish bags, from a squeaky toy for a crying child, an emergency healthy snack or a full change of clothes. Our recent family trip to Scotland really put me to the test. But a temperature plunge from almost 20 degrees C to zero is just not fair and left me trying to figure out whether my two children’s rosy cheeks were down to sunburn or windburn. Of course heading to Scotland at this time of year I wasn’t banking on it being a scorcher, so was pleasantly surprised when as we crossed the border and seemed to hit a mini bank holiday heat wave. But it was all just a ploy. After enjoying a picnic and game of cricket in the park in t-shirts, two days later we were shivering in almost sub zero temperatures. We persevered anyway and the sun did come back out. The girls sported their matching snowsuits, waddling round like pink ETs. I did feel a bit guilty as we sat on a hill eating a picnic and they could hardly get their sandwiches to their mouth because of the shivering. But they took it pretty well. And overall we had a good time. I say overall as I think with toddler holidays you have to look at the bigger picture, as with us the days can quickly turn from the idyllic to a total nightmare. One minute you can be sitting having a picnic by a beautiful loch, not a soul in sight, the children getting back to nature happily throwing stones into the water, no need for toys or TV. Then bam, the child is in the water, and all hell breaks loose and you realise that you are 45 minutes from base-camp and have a serious session of screaming and whining ahead of you. Walking up the hill we were like the von Trapp family in the Sound of Music, singing songs, the kids laughing as we hiked through glens and over streams. Coming back down we were like the Adams family. Noone was speaking, faces like thunder and we’d vowed never to go on holiday ever again. Since the trip I am now armed with a weather app on my phone with three-hourly location forecasts. Surely I can’t go wrong?
With the mother-in-law visiting this weekend I have been researching a few trips to show off the North East. Here a few ideas I came up with.
1. I’m drooling already thinking about the Tynemouth Food Festival http://www.tynemouthfoodfestival.co.uk/
2. Reptile weekend at Kirkley Hall Zoo http://kirkleyhallzoo.co.uk/
3. See the cherry blossom in bloom at Alnwick Garden http://www.alnwickgarden.com/
4. In honour of National Donkey Week half price rides for 50p at Hall Hill Farm http://www.hallhillfarm.co.uk/
5. Join the Colliery Carnival at Beamish Museum to mark the opening of the new exhibition: the Hetton Silver Band Hall. http://www.beamish.org.uk/
6. Relive your childhood memories at the Enid Blyton exhibition at Seven Stories http://www.sevenstories.org.uk/
7. Take a train ride on the Tanfield Railway – the world’s oldest no less http://www.tanfield-railway.co.uk/
8. Make your own Georgian Mask at Seaton Delaval Hall http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/seaton-delaval-hall/
9. Check out some natural and roman history at The Great North Museum http://www.twmuseums.org.uk/great-north-museum.html
10. Test your map reading skills on a Treasure Hunt at Wallington Hall http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wallington/
Beautiful beaches at Beadnell, Bamburgh and Holy Island
Stroll around the weekend market followed by a dig in the sand and then get warmed up with a hot chocolate in the beach cafe. If you still have any energy left, the Blue Reef Aquarium, with otters, tropical fish, seals and even monkeys, is just on the sea front. Cheaper entry for little ones available on Toddler Tuesdays.