I’ve had this parenting gig for four months now. It has been tiring, challenging…but oh so rewarding. People are surprised to hear that within his four short months of life, he has taken three vacations. I realize that what I am about to say may be the most ridiculous thing I have ever written. I realize how snotty I sound. Please take a moment to click the x on the top right hand corner of your screen if you do not wish to see the whining of a mommy who has been blessed with three free beach trips.
Here it is…
Vacationing with an infant is difficult.
No one tells you when you take your bundle home from the hospital that you shouldn’t expect to relax on the beach for a little while…like eighteen years… Sure…there are moments when you’re able to lean back and enjoy the lulling sounds of the waves. Most of the time, those waves are punctuated with the small whimpers of your baby. There is nothing sweeter than feeling the shallow breath of your baby as they take their first beach naps. Makes me want to walk down there with him now.
So what is so difficult about enjoying the sounds of the waves and napping with your baby?!
Ever wonder why you see family photos of mommy, daddy, and baby on the sand and all are wearing sunglasses? It isn’t just the sunshine. Here is what people won’t tell you about beach trips with babies.
1. Your baby will not sleep well. I thought that this beach trip would be different. I thought the last time we went to the beach and he woke up every hour on the hour was because he felt bound by his swaddle. ‘SET ME FREE’ he wailed at 12, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6. I didn’t know what he was saying at the time, but soon realized it when we got home. The moment I put him in his crib at home he slept soundly from 8 a.m. to 4:30 a.m…a vast improvement from the hourly alarm.
This beach trip, he decided that it was time to party from 2 a.m.-5 a.m.
It wasn’t so much of a wail as much as a loud heart to heart. You remember the kind; think back to your college days when ‘that guy’ couldn’t stop talking about how much ‘he loved you, man.’ You couldn’t wait to catch some zzzzz’s and he couldn’t wait to bare his soul. All the while you’re thinking, “it is four in the morning…can’t this wait?” Ever since Bennett found his voice, it sounds like George of the Jungle has replaced my four month old. I rested my hand on his belly and giggled heartily to keep myself from crying somewhere around 4:00 a.m.
The following day I was a mess of hormones and sleep deprivation. He was a bit out of sorts as well. Both of us were overly tired and spent much of the day indoors…trying to nap.
Speaking of naps, he or she will probably only give you a few 30 minute catnaps. Take ’em when you can get ’em.
2. Expect for your baby to go on strike. My best friend refers to my son as a “tub of love.” He is a healthy boy, God bless him. He has the appetite of a bear…which makes his nickname, Bennett Bear, all the more appropriate. When we are at the beach, however, there is a different animal on our hands…pun intended.
He has taken to going on a nursing strike every time we are on vacation. When you are a nursing mother, it is difficult not to take a nursing strike personally. The internal struggle starts innocently enough… Did I eat something? Am I not holding you right? Do you have to burp? and quickly escalates to…’DO YOU NOT LOVE ME ANYMORE!?’
It is irrational, but I chalk it up to the sleep deprivation.
I’ve spent much of my time pumping to keep the ever important ‘supply up,’ which is ever so unpleasant (can I get an amen, nursing mommies!?)
3. You will spend a lot of time in your hotel room. Make sure it is comfortable. Part of the reason you’ll see the inside of your room more than the pool or beach is your decision. After all, remember that the beach zaps all of our energy…it makes us hungry and tired naturally. You would think that would make baby avoid #1 and #2…but alas. Think about how your body handles heat and humidity and then divide it by the number of times larger you are than your infant. You have an overheated baby on your hands pretty quickly in the sweltering heat. You’ll be extra sensitive of that when your little one is increasingly fussy outside. This is the time when investing in an awesome view is totally worth it.
4. Schedule? What schedule? Refer to #1 and #2.
5. #1-#4 should not deter you from taking a beach vacation. Aside from baby bucket hats and board shorts being the cutest things I have ever seen, there is no greater blessing than spending time with friends and family away from your home. You will never remember how little you slept (well…maybe you will), but you will always remember the times with the grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles cooing over your bucket of cuteness.
Parenting at the beach is not easy, often tiring, but oh so worth it.