Here are some real life examples of bad things that happen to good parents on city breaks. At least one of these scenarios will happen to you if you go on a three-day break with toddlers. Fingers crossed not all of them, and not on the same day.
City Breaks With Toddlers – The Day Of Hell
(This is an accompany piece to City Breaks – Top Tips From A Realist Parent)
The city has a world class Nstural History Museum. It’s raining hard. Plan A (sightseeing) is off, cue Plan B (Natural History Museum). You duly search online for discount tickets, pack your change bag and off you go! What fun!
The queue is a smidge longer than expected; ok it’s an hour. Sketchy kids, tetchy parents, confined spaces, big queues, yes we have all been there and yes, it’s lots of fun for every one. It’s fucking great! But then, the crowds eventually clear, you hand over your golden ticket (aka Daddy’s credit card) and finally you are granted entry into those most hallowed of walls, the great marbled vault of naturally historically museumy.
With a hoot your shiny faced little ferrets are off. This gig is nothing but a speed challenge to these little monkeys, they appear to be aiming to complete all three wings at a sub 7 minute mile, rebounding off displays, zigzagging haphazardly through crowded corridors, eyes wide and tongues lolling, sugar-crazed, feral.
‘Come back, sweetheart! Look at this fantastic gazelle diarama’ you call brightly. It’s no use, your children are gone. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing: the dioramas are, quite frankly, fucking horrible. It’s like Night Of The Living Dead, Pet Sematary and Jumanji rolled into one long horrifying nightmare. Those things bear a deep malevolance towards humanity, you know it. Understandably so, we shot them, stuffed them, then shoved ’em in a glass box. If that’s not the kind of shit that’s asking for retribution, I don’t know what is.
Luckily your kids don’t give two tits or even appear to notice whilst other kids, well, they’re seem to be actually learning stuff. Like, they’re listening to their calm-as-hindu-cow parents. Your own little herd is learning things that are just as valuable, you tell yourself. Like how to move *fast* through crowds (useful for music festivals and shoplifting – oh god). Whilst this isn’t what you bargained for, you’re sweating like, well, a gazelle, the kids are enjoying it. They must be learning something, even if it’s by osmosis. Kids are like sponges!
There’s a nice little ‘brunch’ spot not far away, the kind with benches instead of chairs and a perky menu where avocados and eggs feature heavily.
When the food finally arrives, it’s as disappointing as Disneyland Paris, but you don’t complain as it takes a special type of parent to be that audacious. Your kids eat nothing but friesfriesfries because, whilst they didn’t say anything overtly, you just knew they’d unleash seven shades of shit on your arse if you tried to make them eat anything different.
The rest of the afternoon was spent at a playground.
Part of city adventures is venturing onto public transport. Who knew not all subways have elevators (WTF do disabled people do, you wonder in disgust)? Cue loading yourself up like a coal miner’s donkey to get down three urine-riddled flights of stairs. The ticket machine may as well be the Tardis for how well you understand it and the zones you are travelling through, and let’s not get started on getting through the disability access gate with a stroller BECAUSE IT NEVER FUCKING OPENS. Then you’re at the other end of your journey and back to desperately searching for an elevator out of this hot, filthy hellhole when the reality is, there isn’t one.
Despite manically googling ‘top-rated child-friendly restaurants near me’, this unicorn-rare phenomenon alludes you entirely. Exhausted, you settle for a not-particularly-child-friendly-looking Italian (all Italians love kids, right?). It’s way past baby’s dinnertime and that plate of ‘wriggly worms’ that he palm-shovelled yesterday is today regarded as a big, steaming plate of dog poo. Your other child knocks juice all over your husbands crotch. He’s livid, you’re sweating, the kids are crying. The staff and other diners treat your family as if you’ve just crawled out of a petri dish. You’re guilted into leaving a bigger tip than the food and service deserves.
You’ve stretched your budget to one double room in a boutique hotel which you intend to share with your children. This has turned out to be a mistake. A bit of downtime after 10 hours schlepping the streets is just what you need but this doesn’t appear to match with the needs of your lilliputian bedfellows. As your bedtime is now the same as theirs, 8.30pm, you’ve got 9 long hours of whining, snuffling and snoring to relax to. All the while simmering in the blackest of rages that this is costing $350 a night, which is somehow definitely your fucktard husbands fault; you’d never do anything so stupid as book one bastard room for four people.
Parking, entertainment, meals and train tickets totalled to the princely sum of $320 for the four of you. Yes, $320 – for one day. Think about that.
You have two more days in the city.
This is an accompany piece to City Breaks – Top Tips From A Realist Parent
Have you had your own city break day of hell? What advice you would give to other parents to make their break more relaxing? (‘Go without kids’ is not an option.)