Never go on holiday with a toddler…

This time last year I remember saying to my husband, you know what I think it could be a good idea to go on a cruise as Williams first time abroad holiday? Well at the end of last week I would’ve been posting to say it was the worst thing ever we could have done, however after a few days of getting over it a bit……yeah I’m still thinking never again!!

Someone at work said “would you cruise again?” I eagerly responded, “oh yes without a doubt if we could come away without W.”  They first looked shocked, but then smiled. “Oh I get it, very funny.”  The relief in their face was only short coming because they eventually realised that yes, I was being serious.

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It would be so lovely to be posting to say what a delightful good behaving child he was on holiday, but unfortunately the first 36 hours went from him being on his best behaviour (almost an angel) to then having tantrum after tantrum because he didn’t understand that;  a) He couldn’t jump from the top of the stairs, b) That he couldn’t get in the swimming pool fully clothed, c) He wasn’t allowed to climb on the stage in one of the bars and play with the piano and microphone, or d) he couldn’t run off!  That was in the first few hours!!

We first arrived at lunch time (after finally getting him to let us put on his wrist band), unfortunately couldn’t get to our room quite yet so we went for lunch…hurrah buffet lunch!  When we finally get to our room, he’s tired and it’s way past his nap time so he went straight in travel cot but surprise surprise….he wouldn’t settle.  We then had our porter say to us that an alarm would sound and we would need to get our life jackets and get ushered straight to our zone, unfortunately by the time he fell asleep we only have forty minutes before the alarm went and we had to go and wake him up to take him off for the safety talk.  Anyone would’ve thought it was the end of the world the way he screamed his head off while the staff tried to go through procedures with us and how to put on our life jackets.

We especially loved the way members of the crew put seating in the hall for us because he was so disruptive, thinking that he would just sit out there.  W had no intention of making it easy for either of us, no, he would not put on his life jacket on and no, we weren’t allowed to do it either.  Luckily it helped bumping into someone I knew, Emily Alex and Bella (I had already discovered that they would be on the same boat as us) hoping the timing was good and that it would help with Bella there being the same age…..erm not really!  I think Bella actually looked at William as if to say, come on, I mean, how old are you?

It’s survival of the fittest when you have a toddler, you feel like you’re in a competition wondering who’s going to break first….well this time it was me and I hadn’t anticipated how stressful he would be when away from him home.  I started to think by now that we had just wasted all that money on an expensive cruise, and I did say to my husband at one point how we’d made a mistake.  Him being the most laid back out of the both of us I expected him to say Oh I’m sure it’ll be fine but no he actually replied telling me that he was thinking the same thing.

Our saving grace was kids club, it was like a light at the end of a tunnel.  W loved it, soft play, toys, lego little tikes cars….what more could a little boy want?? We took him in and within minutes he was off to play with one of the staff members and we went…just like that and it was lovely because not only was it our holiday but it was his too blah blah blah…..oh who am I kidding we needed a  **%^&^ break!

William slept: 10 hours.       We slept: 6 hours

Sunday.

So after forty eight hours it’s getting a little bit easier and last night we tried to embrace the first formal night, we had bought a lovely tux for W and we all glammed up and made down to have dinner and hoped to get a nice family portrait…..(I am currently laughing out loud as I write this, obviously that didn’t happen).  Isn’t it ironic that you get all dressed up for a nice portrait of the family and it doesn’t work.  I’m singing this in my head thanks for giving me that Alanis, you’re a legend!

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Our faces just say it all….

That first evening on the boat, whilst heading to the buffet I saw Emily and her little family heading into the Beach Cafe which was one of the restaurants on board that you pay a bit extra for and I assumed that was a good sign!  How right was I?  The food was absolutely delicious and we enjoyed our meals, the W had a kids meal and ended up eating crackers. (Toddler life!)

William slept: 7 hours.       We slept: 5 hours

Monday

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So a day later we docked in Stavaanger, it is so so clean in this town the aroma of coffee along with the houses painted in pastel colours is giving a lovely atmosphere, well until we try and find some sunglasses for W and try some on at the market.  We find a pair we think are quite smallish and try them for size, W takes them and tries to put them on his face and the lady who has the stall snatches them off him saying something about “no glasses for children size”.  She obviously didn’t want our custom so we slowly walk away making our way towards a park area distracting him with “wow look pigeons” or “ooooh red car”.  Seems to work!  Lucky for us though we found a H&M store, we did not anticipate this gorgeous sunshine!

We sit outside a cafe with two lattes and cookies, obviously the W ate most of them (of course) but after dropping quite a bit of it we end up surrounded by pigeons which he screams about, telling them all to shoo!  Now at what point do I explain to a two and half year old that it’s his fault that they’re there?

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Yes, that biscuit ended up being dropped in my latte!

That evening we decide after the W has a nap that we’re going to put him in kids club and have an evening to ourselves, successfully we eat a la carte and drink wine but not quite drunk enough so we don’t feel like irresponsible parents!

William slept: 6 hours.       We slept: 5 hours

Tuesday

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Flam

I was looking forward to this visit, it was supposed to be the most picturesque of all the fjords.  We had also booked a railway ride up the mountain to see Flam in all it’s glory.  The only thing we hadn’t anticipated was a toddler that had only had 6 hours sleep (or possibly less), he was not happy and required our full attention.

The train stopped a few times at certain view points and my husband got off (i didn’t trust W so unfortunately I missed a woman under a waterfall dancing….completely gutted!).  However, I managed to get a few nice pictures while we were there which wasn’t bad considering trying to calm down W when we realised that Paw Patrol had disappeared out of the downloads on Netflix (later discovered that’s a Norwegian thing).

That evening after William having a sleep (finally) we decided to brave an a la carte meal in one of the freedom dining restaurants (that’s cruise jargon).  We went prepared with the tablet with his favourite programmes on, with some toys and stickers that I had prepared a few weeks previously but he actually wasn’t that bad and enjoyed eating the endless supply of bread and finished with the ice cream (of course) and then later burned off his energy dancing with another toddler in one of the bars.

William slept: 8 hours.       We slept: 6 hours

Wednesday

Up early once again (of course) so we sat in bed with a cup of tea and planned our day, which if you have had experience of kids you should never do as they’re so unpredictable!

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We disembarked the boat in Olden, and as we looked around at the tourists notice a train on the road…or as William put it Grandad Pigs Train (too much Peppa Pig is being watched!).  After giving the lady some kroner we thought this could be fun, W was excited to be getting on another train and we hoped that he may sit still on this one??

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Irony….again!

I actually preferred this trip, the train was like a little train with wheels that weaved in and out of lanes up through the mountains and round lakes stopped at view points.

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Oldedalen Valley
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Olden New Church
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Oldeelva River

The scenery was seriously spectacular and the views were nothing like I imagined but so much better, and the bonus was that W enjoyed himself throwing stones into the lakes and rivers….I think it was possibly the highlight of the morning for him!

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husband showing what a great multi-talker he can be

Back on get boat and in haste to tire W out, hoping he’ll have a good nights sleep we play hide and seek on top deck seems a good idea at the time.  I’m hiding and he comes to find me.  I keeping going further and further away, so it’s harder for him to find me wondering if I can get away with napping somewhere or finding a bar where he can’t find me, when all of a sudden I hear my husband shout at the top of his voice “No William!”  I turn to see his straw hat flying through the air going over board.

I desperately  look down and luckily it’s not in the sea, it’s landed on someones balcony so after an hours worth of counting along 53 cabins I’ve got it narrowed down to it being in 3 cabins (ok, I kinda lost count as I kept having to manoeuvre around posts.  But finally we get the hat back that evening, relief that he’s not lost yet another hat. (Yes, this happened before, of course it has!)

So after our disappointing photo from the formal night and because William had napped that afternoon he was in a relatively good mood (go figure) we asked about doing a photo shoot, we were delighted to discover that they could do it that evening!  So that evening after dinner we went up on deck (although a bit windy) and had some family photos taken!  Finally!!!!  I finally have some lovely pictures of the three of us that I’m proud to put on the wall, one where we’re all happy and no unflattering poses!!!

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William slept: 6 hours.       We slept: 5 hours

Thursday

So another day and another scenic town centre….Bergen, not as idillic as the other places we had visited but still non the less very different and interesting architecture once you get into the town centre.

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We ended up in a shopping centre as William had fallen asleep in the pushchair and it was air conditioned (we’re so selfish!) we found a cafe and I sat drinking Frappuccino and worked out a route where we could go that we could possibly find a park for W to have a run around.  Trouble was there wasn’t anywhere, there was the park in the centre with a lake but the cafe was shut and there wasn’t anywhere for William to run around and after a stressful half an hour trying to keep him on the reins (so he didn’t go near the lake) we had to wrestle him (not kidding) into the pushchair and head back to the boat so we didn’t feel like we explored much there.

When we got back on the boat we all tried to have a bit of a rest in the cabin, after the restless night we had had the night before (I think the only night that wasn’t restless was the first night so far!) and as it didn’t go to plan we decided to stick with the buffet and headed up to deck 15 where the buffet was for the children.  We fed him first and as we started to eat our dinner and right on perfect timing the lovely Bella as her parents (the mum I had previously known) walked in to have their dinner.

William took an instant shine to Bella and that was it, tired grumpy toddler disappeared and hyper boy escaped and he was bouncing up and down….both of them were.  Her mum had music on her phone and he was loving dancing and they played well together so so well, and I was actually enjoying watching him playing whilst I ate my dinner hot (ok it was luke warm steak but I was hungry by this point!).

William slept: 8 hours.       We slept: 7 hours

Friday

Friday morning we all stretched and yawned after a good nights sleep (ergh who am I kidding) but by this point we’re taking turns to sleep on the floor while the other shares the double bed with the octopus.  We’re all awake and sat up in bed, husband and I drinking coffee and William playing with his jigsaw puzzles when a letter appears under our cabin door….

Dear William

I would like to invite you to the bridge where my daddy works!

Bella x

To start off with he doesn’t let me read it, he screams “mine! mine!” and snatches it out of my hand….but after a struggle and a couple of tantrums we actually get to read it!  We have all been invited up to the bridge to see where it all happens and how the ship works, William has no idea what it means but what a great opportunity!!

As it’s a day at sea, so I decide to be all domesticated and do our washing before we go up on the bridge.  Now before you diss me and say really? I just want to point out that this will mean when we get home tomorrow I will have NO WASHING to do AND Monday I have the day off work yet W is still going to childminder……there, now you can see why I did this!

We make our way up to meeting Bella and her family and they take us up to the bridge where the captain sits with his staff and sails the ship!  I never realised how big it was up there, and learnt how they parked the boat (that’s the only bit I heard over the attempting to try to stop William from touching buttons (I know right?  As expected!)

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An incredible experience up on the bridge, privileged to be invited by little Bella!!

We’re all allowed to have a go in the captains seat which is incredible, and I have to say is one of the most comfortable chairs I’ve ever sat in (want one in my office!).

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Oh how that hat suits me so so much!

William finishes off the visit by informing me that mummy and daddy need to go home and he will stay there….hmmmmm really William???  Do you honestly think that’s ever going to happen???

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Afterwards William right on cue (well after walking a mile and half with him in the pushchair) falls asleep so we all go to lunch together along with the others and he snores his little face off while I enjoy a delicious a fresh crab salad!  Later we go back there for dinner that night also as we like it so much and love the fact that William will sit nicely so that we can have a half decent meal, and as it’s our last evening there I finish the meal with my favourite….cheese and port.

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Then on our way back we bump into the lovely Bella again (after him saying he wanted to see Bella) and they dance the night away….perfect ending to a perfect day! (ssshhhhh don’t burst my bubble!)

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Hold my hand William….ok Bella.
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Bella throwing some shapes on the dance floor!

William slept: 7 hours.       We slept: 5 hours

Saturday

W wakes up informing us he wants to go home, well after telling him we are going home today he runs around like a loon and to be honest I feel like doing that too because I’m bloody shattered and I want my own bed.  I am physically and mentally drained, I feel like a zombie but hey that’s what you get for going on holiday with a toddler.  He’s been picking up the phone in the cabin all week saying “hi grandma and grandad, come see me on my boat.” and today this has changed to “hi grandma and grandad we’re coming home today”.  I have mixed feelings of happy and sad for all of us.

I’m feeling awful, like a hangover without the alcohol.  I’m eating dry toast and want to put my head on the table and cry, but I’m holding it together telling myself I can do this.  W has also decided this week that he wants to butter his own toast and in slow motion flicks the butter in the air and it goes behind me and M and I look at each other and burst out laughing.  W smiles back at us, I’ve almost got tears in my eyes.

That’s why we went on holiday with W, because he makes us smile.

He was thrilled to see his grandad when my dad picked us up, screaming “grandad grandad we went on a boat!”  Then asking if we were going to see grandma I had to break it to him that we were tired and going home but we would see her tomorrow along with Nanna, grandad (Mikes parents), Uncle Matthew (my brother) and Auntie Wendy.  He looked so happy and I didn’t think he could be any happier, that was until we opened our front door and he looked in on his toys.

“My pick up truck.”  He exclaims and throws himself on the floor and gets submerged into playing with his toys, the boy is happy to be home!

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At least he was pleased, until I took yet another photo!

William slept: 11 hours.       We slept: 8 and half hours

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