Sunday, September 6, 2009

How to survive a weekend away from home

Our discipleship group finally organised a weekend retreat at the Aranda country club, and we decided we would try to bring baby J along and stay there for the entire retreat.  So far, baby J has been pretty well travelled since we've brought him up to visit the relatives in Penang when he was 4.5 months old, and we've also brought him along to KL when he was 6.5 months old for a cousin's wedding.  Its been getting harder to bring the fellow out on trips since he's more conscious of his surroundings and gets pretty cranky when he's away from home too long, so it was with some trepidation that I decided that we will give the retreat a go.  I mean, if we've survived 8 hour road trips, what's a retreat on home ground right?

Well, I would say baby J indeed did quite well, but I'm pretty exhausted from the whole retreat. One of the biggest challenges was packing for the trip, especially since now baby J can't sleep with me on the bed. Ever since he rolled off the bed one night, he has been sleeping in a cot next to our bed since he tosses and turns in his sleep. So there's the cot to bring, along with all sorts of other things like food preparation stuff for his meals, all the diapering and toiletries (and the bath tub), toys to entertain the tyke, swim gear, the list goes on. By the time we were packed, 10% of the stuff in the car boot was mine and hubby's, another 10% was for activities for the retreat like board games, the guitar and sleeping bags, and finally the remaining 80% of the stuff was for the little boy.

The retreat itself was pretty enjoyable and everyone had a good time, playing games, doing bible studies and having a great BBQ. Its quite an achievement since its the first time we've managed to pull off a stay-over retreat, and this group has already been together for 7 years! Our group was really nice and let us have one of the rooms so that I could breastfeed in privacy while the girls shared the other room, and the guys had to camp out on the living room. Granted, baby J needed his naps and couldn't sleep well at night because of all the noise from the nearby nightclub, so I had to miss some stuff to be with him, but we survived. And the retreat saw some firsts for the boy: It was the first time he sat in a high chair while we had our meals, and the first time he had a bath in a bath tub since he turned 1 month.  And he had his 3rd swimming experience. Both the bath tub and the swim made him cry, but more about that next time I guess, since that probably will warrant an entire post!

Anyway, we've learnt some lessons on how to survive such trips:
1. Get help with baby so that you can enjoy yourself as well.  After all, people do like to play with the baby and that will free you up abit.  At least for awhile!  We got the godpa to help feed the boy, and everyone took turns carrying the fellow.

2. If baby is small, bring along the bumbo seat if you have one, so the little boy can sit with you during group activities, and you don't need to have him in your lap the whole time.

3. Bring things to entertain the tyke.  We bought a new teether along since he was cutting his top two teeth, and it helped to keep him occupied and reduced his restlessness.

4. Get gear that will lighten your load if possible.  We bought an inflatable bath tub, and a light portable cot for the trip.  Though the cot cost quite a bit, we figured that since we travel pretty frequently, it would be well worth the money!

5. Some little things count: Bring a hat and sunscreen if you intend to take walks in the day, and mosquito repellent if necessary.   (That's the hat we got him from Chateau de sable that I mentioned previously, though its a bit crumpled since it was squashed in my diaper bag.)

6. Try to lighten up and have fun!  I know I was a little stressed about his naps and meals and all (especially since there was no microwave and stove so I had to improvise for his meals), but I'm trying to let go. :)

More tomorrow about travelling light, gotta turn in cos I'm pooped!

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