This week we decided it was a good idea to take a nearly 3 year old and a nearly 6 month old on a 4 hour car trip to Colchester. In hindsight, thinking this journey would be smooth runnings may have been hugely optimistic, and thinking back over the 2 day escapade, I’m surprised we returned relatively stress free and still with hair.
My friend Debbie, who I met at University, and her husband Bryn, have just had a beautiful baby boy, and as half term meant they’d be at home together as a family, we decided that we would take a two day, one night trip to Colchester. On the packing front, this wasn’t too much hard work. A couple of changes of clothes for Chris and I, 4 each for the kids (it will become clear later just how crucial this decision was), a few toiletries and snacks, and a tank full of petrol, and we were set. Of course, our aim was to leave nice and early, and we set our alarms for 6ish, ready to be on the road for 7am. Forward to Tuesday morning, and we were finally ready to go at 745.
Still, we were all packed up, kids in tow, all set for our family adventure to Essex! I was excited; I hit the road with enthusiasm, listening to a NOW album of Christmas songs at Lylah’s request. Of course.
The first thing that struck me as we were an hour into the journey and Lylah was fast asleep, was that she may need a wee. She’d gone before we left, but the last thing we needed was a car seat stinking of fresh and then stale urine! A quick stop at Fleet services, and the toddler was toileted and the baby was breast fed. Time to hit the road again.
All was going really well. We were on track time wise, our destination being a quaint little farm the other side of Colchester, where we would meet our friends and their new addition for lunch and partake in a trail around the farm to see the animals.
With a couple of hours left to go from our pit stop, we made sure Lylah had plenty to snack on in the back seat, not wanting her to go hungry or dehydrate on this epic journey. About an hour left to go, and we were set to have achieved a stress free journey. Result!
“Mummy, I feel a bit sicky. I feel sick”
“You feel sick Lylah? You’ll be okay, just close your eyes and put your head back and you’ll feel better”
“Mummy, I need medicine, I feel sick! I need medicine”
“Lylah, you don’t need medicine! You’ll be okay”
“Mummy, Daddy I feel si…BLLEEEUUURRGGGHHHHHH”
My poor Lylah was vomiting all down herself. I was trying to negotiate fast moving cars on the M3, whilst glancing at Lylah who was covered in orange coloured vomit. Chris was looking around from the passenger seat trying to reassure her whilst she screamed and cried.
Chris pointed out there was nothing we could do as I panicked about just how much sick she was covered in. Then Lylah said exactly what I was thinking; “But these are my best clothes mummy!!”, still crying, with sick dripping from her mouth. Sorry.
She did calm down a bit and at one point was pointing out the contents of her sick to us. Look mummy, there is Pom bears! And its also got some weetabix!!
About 15 minutes later we were able to pull in to a services and get her out to get her cleaned up. Out came the perfectly packed items from the boot, so we could get the change of clothes, wipes, new shoes, in order to get Lylah not smelling of Pom bear sick.
All sorted, and the car seat cleaned up, we were on our way, when Malachy began his new favourite thing, SCREAMING in his car seat. He’s done this for a while, but 20 mins of it when you have been in a car for 4 hours, and have just cleaned up sick does tend to try your patience. We arrived at our destination, and as soon as I lifted him out he was back to his angelic smily self. Of course.
After a delicious lunch and an autumnal walk around the farm, we told Lylah it was time to check into our hotel. When we left that morning she had informed us that she didn’t want to go to the hotel and she wanted to sleep in her owl bed at home. Rewind back to our summer trip to Devon where she told us for 2 days straight that she didn’t like holiday and wanted to go home. However, all was well upon arrival at the Premier Inn A12 Colchester, and Lylah thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the reception staff and setting off the fire alarm by opening the emergency exit door.
We settled into the room, when Chris informed me he wasn’t feeling too well, and I was thankful I’d packed drugs for us as well as the necessary Calpol, teething gel, teething salts etc for the children.
That evening, we arrived at Debbie and Bryns house, and Lylah had fallen asleep in the car, so woke up feeling a little grumpy. You never know what Lylah you might get when she wakes up. Tonight, we had the Lylah that instantly stated to our hosts that she wants to go home. Delightful. Bryn pulled out the CBeebies card and all was well again, and by the end of the evening she was making herself at home, with Bryn her new best friend, bossing him around and making best friends with their dog. Poor Chris was still feeling unwell, and couldn’t finish his portion of banoffie pie, and anyone that knows Chris will understand that this is not normal. I however, had 2, non slimming world friendly, delicious slices of Debbie’s home made mouth watering dessert.
We went back after a lovely evening, and I longed for a night of minimally interrupted sleep in the hotel bed. Of course this was not on the cards for me. Malachy woke every couple of hours without fail, and I woke up feeling like I was hungover from the severe lack of sleep. We treated ourselves to an all you can eat breakfast and ventured into town for a play in the park. But it was peeing it down, and the park equipment was covered in wet slippery rain. Not that that stopped Lylah and Chris, they had a great time running around, tiring her out for the journey home.
Before we left for the final leg home, I felt absolutely brilliant. In spite of the vom episode, Chris feeling unwell and the sleepless night, I was bright eyed and ready for the stint home, kids asleep in the back. After a necessary pit stop 2 hours into the journey, we continued on, and were on the home straight until we hit traffic around Stonehenge. It was 4:30pm. Bad timing. We were trickling through this traffic, when Malachy decides to have one of his screaming episodes. We took the opportunity to pull over and give him a feed. Lylah also needed a wee, so we asked her to go in the grass in the layby. Oh no…tantrum and full meltdown time (kicking seat and screaming style) meant that we couldn’t convince her to go for a wee in the grass. I wasn’t convinced she could hold it for another hour or so, and I was past the point of being tolerant, and it all got a bit too much inside our VW Golf. After snapping at Lylah that she has to go for a wee, her tantrum only escalated, so we decided to leave her be and if we have a soppy car seat as a result, then so be it.
Malachy screamed for the remainder of the journey, and the pinnacle was Chris and I singing “Peter Rabbit had a fly upon his nose” at the top of our voices, attempting harmonies, to a) make him stop crying and b) drown out the sound of his crying. Lylah slept through this nursery rhyme karaoke session, and Malachy had moments of quiet, but he came out on top overall as I don’t think I’ve ever been so relived to pull into the driveway.
Lessons learned from our road trip: Don’t feed Lylah Pom bears on a long car journey, pack lots of clothes and wet wipes, take ear plugs.
Totally worth it though to get warm cuddles with baby Thomas.