Sunday, 5 July 2009

Not Supermum

It's been few weeks since I came back from my 14 days trip around Italy and Greece. Interestingly, everytime I share the extensive story with friends and colleague, they first reaction were something like "I don't think I can do that with my kid", "Gosh how many luggage did you bring?","That's sounded tiresome!". And normally I would giggle and respond "My son did 3 country in 7 days before, covering 9 cities, climb a mountain and doing 11 hour non stop overnight train journey. Compare to that, this was nothing!".

Looking back from few years ago. I was a little skeptical about travelling with little children too. I remembered when I was in Bali, I always amazed to see a glimpse of a young caucasian couple carrying a humongous rucksack with a toddler (or two) on its tip. I was like "Gosh that's look heavy". I can't imagine now I am doing it! So what is the trick?

Before I tell you the secret. Let's hear a similar story from Karen Cheng.

********

COPING WITH THREE KIDS


When I first considered whether I wanted three children, I was terrified. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to cope. Two kids are great, because mum and dad can hold one each. Not to mention, I have two hands to hold each kid.

But what happens when there are THREE kids?

I would sometimes see a mother with three or four children – walking to school, in the shops, getting in and out of the car… and I think “My goodness, how does she do it???”

Those mothers were truly super-mums in my eyes.

So the other day I had a kind of epiphany.

I was dropping my two big boys off at their school. It was pouring with rain, it was windy, and the air was really cold. I parked the car. I got out of the car and stood in the rain. The car park was full of cars, kids, parents, puddles – it was utter madness.

There I was, holding a baby in one arm, two school bags in the other arm. I had my head crooked to one side so I could hold my own open umbrella under my chin, while trying to keep the baby dry. The boys were also standing in the pouring rain, in a huge puddle, with water soaking into their socks, enjoying the novelty of rain and trying to open their umbrellas.

I was shouting “PAY ATTENTION, WE’RE ON A ROAD! DON’T SPLASH THE PUDDLES! DON’T OPEN THE UMBRELLA TOO CLOSE TO THE CAR! DON’T POKE YOUR BROTHER IN THE EYE! STOP SWINGING YOUR UMBRELLA AROUND! DON’T STAND TOO FAR OUT ON THE ROAD!” as I used my knee to herd the boys away from the zooming cars.

I was so stressed. I stood there… and I could feel my blood boil with frustration. I was going to explode. THIS IS SO HARD!! THIS IS CRAZY!! I’M GOING CRAZY!!

I had a moment of insanity.

Then a thought flashed through my head – Oh. I see. This is how THOSE MOTHERS DO IT. WITH PLAIN HARD WORK.

I quickly realised that it probably didn’t have to be so hard. I needed to calm my nerves. I just had to do things slowly. Maybe adopt a slightly more positive attitude. And stick with what was important at that very moment. Which was, crossing the road.

Rain? Puddles? It’s just water right?

So, oh well, the baby got a bit wet. My hair got soaked. The school bags were drenched. The boys looked like they just had a shower. And I’m sure we’re all going to get a cold by the end of the week. Ah well.

As we approached the classroom, one of my boys looked up at me with big happy eyes and said, “Whoa, I feel like I’ve been in a washing machine!” And I actually laughed.

Later on that afternoon, I thought about this whole “super-mummy with three kids” thing.

We’re not THAT SUPER. We’ve just gotten used to the hard work, the juggling, the busy-ness and being organised.

It’s not glamorous, but it’s life.

And learning how to love it, is perhaps the most super thing about it.

*******

So there you go. There is no secret to it, it's just PLAIN HARD WORK. But of course, the more you do it, the more experience you are.
Here is a simple guidelines to travel with little children.

1. Don't bring too much luggage!
I understood many parents are prepared for the worst when it comes to travelling. No doubt some pack extra clothing, some snack, or even medication. But remember, you are travelling (worst still if you are backpacking or camping). It's important to be reminded that you can't have your house, your wardrobe, your kitchen with you, so please don't overdone this or else you'll be a sherpa to the entire journey.
Just bring necessary outfit for the weather, try to recycle clothing as much as you can or plan to do a littlebit of laundry. It helps to wear disposable underwear!

2. Train your little toddler.
Now you already did your part, it's now your toddler's part. Train him not to use his buggy too much, walk him to the park, and let him climb numerous staircase. Teach your children to be able to sit still and eat without too much fussing around. Better still if you can potty trained him.
I know many people skeptical about "how much a child can enjoy trekking, hiking or city sight seeing without getting bored". But I guess most children will have a longer attention span on things around them as long as they have enough sleep, full and not tired.
My son enjoy the ferry ride, the bus ride, the train ride, the tram ride and the plane ride (He is very impressed with the 6 bed compartment in the night train whereby no one except him are able to sit straight due to space issue).
He enjoy the night walk in Berlin, strolling at un-buyable boutique in Salzburg, eating best pizza in the world, hiking in death valley, watching sunset in grand canyon, hike in jungefrau, swimming in aegean sea, even change his nappy in Vatican. He is certainly has been to many places other toddler has never been.

3. Souvenirs vs Camera.
I know some people visit certain place to shop, no doubt of that. But don't get too carried away by the fact that the item on certain places is much cheaper than the one in your country. If you flew using budget airlines, remember that extra luggage can cost. Remember to secure some space and decide the limit of how much you can buy.
While the way I do it is : don't buy souvenier. I do normally regret buying an exotic looking fridge magnet, a T-shirt with Hard Cafe prints on (which end up serving as my sleeping outfit), fancy looking mug or tons of things that looks very nice back then but end up in the bin in a year or two during spring cleaning.
So, I bring my camera with me and save some money at the same time. Don't think that I bring bazooka size lens, I only bring my little 50mm lens and 18-55mm standard lens, nothing fancy. Oh yeah, how about shooting at night?
Big tripod is probably easy to use, but all thorugh my journey I've been using this.

This babe is my best investment. At first I thought my big DSLR will be too heavy for this, but I was wrong. You can spend less than 10 USD to get it. This tripod stand about 15cm, fit inside your camera bag or even your pocket! And it's still take a good picture! Serve the purpose right.

4. Get fit.
No one ever plan to get sick on their vacation. And apparently pre-vacation excercise always help!

5. Know what you should know.
I had never like to join a tour for any of my trip.
Be prepare to know what to expect, read travel books months in advance. Read about weather, safety, and expenses before you come. Book your hostel in advance to save time and save money. Learning few sentences in other language is always helpful. Write your journey plan together with back up route plan. Whether you use public transport or hiring a car, it's always useful to know alternative route in case of strike or road closure.

And then, pray that the Lord grant you save journey. The worst mistake of holiday planning is leaving God out of the equation. Remember, human plan may fail, but the Lord's will never.

May you all have a lovely vacation!

4 comments:

Stardust said...

Dear Supermum not,

I'm touched by your sharing and hey, I think many would be inspired. Shall keep your helpful tips in mind! BTW, that tripod, any further info you can share on that?

Mei Teng said...

I dread to think about having to travel with children in tow.

How much weight can that tripod take? What brand is that?

I have yet to invest in a tripod. Spotted one from Manfrotto.

J.H said...

Hi Stardust and Mei Teng,
You can take a look of the brand new one of this at :
http://www.hama.co.uk/portal/articleId*110680/action*2563;jsessionid=EE85A58CBFB6E3ECD0FBCC891E535D3B.tomcat_uk_lin28

The brand is HAMA (it's called HAMA mini tripod).
Here is the spec :
- For photo and video cameras, LCD monitors, microphones and mini speakers
- 2-section tripod legs
- With ball tilt head
- Thread: 1/4 "
- Weight: 127g
- Dimensions: 24 x 150 mm

Technical Details
Use Photo/Video (3D)
Max. Height approx. 21 cm
Colour Silver
Type Mini Tripods

Mei Teng said...

Thanks for the info. I am looking for more of a heavy weight category for one of my heavy lenses. The Manfrotto one carries up to a max of 5kg. The ballhead takes a max load of up to 8kg.