So, we are off to China. Never been there, don’t speak Mandarin. No worries.
The more foreboding uncharted territory is ‘traveling with toddler’. We’ve not really done it before…
We left our home in Perth in May 2009 to drive around Australia. Snowy was 2 1/4. So, kind-of an old toddler. In nappies, yes, and very committed to his dummy, true, but also pretty good at walking and talking, using a spoon, and all that.
He was still breast-feeding enthusiastically, but never let it interfere with joining in with the big kids, and wouldn’t do it in public!
Also, we’ve just spent 7 months in SE Asia with Baby Boy. He learnt to crawl in Singapore last November, and started to walk in Bali a fortnight before we returned to Perth.
So, what’s the problem?
It’s the bit between 15 months and 2 1/4. Now, I’ve only raised 4 other kids, but I’m pretty sure I remember that age being a bit loud and messy. I’m pretty sure there’s a strong likelihood of some assertiveness and some checking out where the boundaries are. I seem to remember high energy, rapid language learning, total lack of personal safety, disbelief in stuff like gravity. Hours spend watching workmen, trucks, dogs…. The story reading, oh so many stories to read aloud, recite by heart, point at each page of in detail…dream about. Opinions, questions, frustrations, endless snacks and drinks and trips to the loo. And all the ‘I do it myself….’
Oh independence, how selectively I crave thee in mine offspring!
Maybe it’s a good thing, Bare with me, I have a theory. My theory is that there are some efficiencies that can be exploited here.
For example, when you have a sitting or crawling baby, you must watch them constantly, otherwise they eat weird stuff and fall out windows.
Also, when you have a young child of any age in Asia, you must watch them constantly, otherwise they eat weird stuff and fall out windows. (We’ve found much of Asia to be unbaby-safe )
So, why not do both at once? I mean, if I’m going to be glued to the baby for many months, I might as well be glued to the baby and travel around a bit too. Why spend 24 months doing close-call monitoring, when 12 months would do? Serving the sentences concurrently, so to speak.
So, is having a toddler in China going to be a good thing? He will certainly have questions, that’s appropriate. He’ll want to put everything in his mouth, again, if its dinner time, this is a good thing.
He’ll be leaning language rapidly, this could be a VERY good thing.
Fascination with modes of transport may also come in handy, we plan to move around a bit. Wanting to walk everywhere, ok, so it can be a bit slow, but he’s getting heavy, I don’t mind the odd break from my baby sling. And train rides are much more fun with enthusiastic company.
And doing things himself? If I have the patience and space for him to feed himself, that would be great, If I have nowhere to be, it doesn’t matter if a five minute walk takes forty, and that he examines every dodgy piece of litter on the path. And if he makes a mess of his clothes, who cares? No one’s going to see us again, and people already think backpackers are feral.
I’ll just have to balance keeping him safe and fed with letting him explore the world at toddler speed.
Please remind me of this if I have a winge in a few months’ time!
I make it sound like being glued to the baby is a hassle, a drain, and a real chore. It can be, when you have a list to do a mile long, and are stressed and frustrated. I remember when Snowy was this age, he and I spent three hours a day in the car taking the other children here and there. He was one frustrated child! No wonder he walked and talked late….
But when we are traveling, we don’t have a very long list. The stuff on the list is all of ‘eat breakfast lunch, dinner, go for a walk, read a bit, write a bit, chat a bit, wash a few pairs of jocks and have an early night’
Still, it might be a challenge, I can’t see him sleeping in his sling for hours on long drives like he used to. Maybe we’ll stick to trains so he can do this.
(actually a few of my kids like to do that)
So, its unchartered territory, for us. I suppose if we weren’t optimistic, we wouldn’t be going…
I know plenty of people have managed just fine, please share any suggestions you have about traveling with a toddler (other than not to!)