I’m a control freak; an A-type personality who lives by lists and order. However, our first weekend away with baby, who is now just over 6 weeks old, proved quite a logistical feat! We had been invited to a 60th birthday party with great friends in the winelands just outside Stellenbosch. Another young couple, with a one year old, invited us to the West Coast (a 3 hour drive away) on the following night and naturally we accepted – thinking we’d chance the highways and hold our thumbs for a quiet drive.
I decided to book a room around Stellenbosch/Franschhoek for our little family of 3, but quickly realized that it might be a great idea to surprise my parents with a romantic stay in the picturesque vineyards… and then let them know that their grandson would be joining them in their room and that they were actually baby-sitting for a few hours 😉
Firstly, note to new parents – not all establishments welcome families with young children with open arms and after a few very cautious, “How old exactly is your child?” from tight-lipped receptionists (I won’t mention which farms) – we were welcomed by Zorgvliet. We booked two rooms next door to each other and because it’s winter, it made a much smaller dent in our baby’s university fund 😉 Getting there was quite a story. Packing for the first time for baby and us had both my husband and I breaking into a mild sweat. Did we have enough nappies? Should we pack the bassinet and the bath? Did we have the necessary medicine in the event of an emergency – and would he be reasonably “behaved” for a 3-hour drive. Some stroke of genius had me getting our boy vaccinated the afternoon of our imminent trip and we also had the unknown factor of whether this would make him irritable.
Anyone who has ever travelled with a brand new baby could probably relate to the fear of the unknown that felt like a never-ending abyss and led me to packing enough for a month long trip. I managed to squeeze what I thought are the “bare essentials” into 6 bags for baby and just threw clean underwear and a toothbrush for myself into my handbag. Amazing how one’s priorities change! My husband was tasked with fitting all the bags plus the pram and bassinet, cooler boxes, 50 nappies (one never knows!) and 15 outfit changes for baby (just in case!) and first aid kit (which would put any medium sized hospital to shame) in our car. Countless double and quadruple–checking later, we made it onto the road, a full 2 hours later than expected and set-off for an incredible weekend.
The next day, we were able to bond with my parents over a leisurely breakfast and then, after perfectly timing the feeding and changing schedule, our son treated us to a blissful 3 hours of calm as he listened to Alicia Keys and drifted to a deep sleep with the engine gently lulling him. And, a lovely day with a mom who’s been there and done that a year prior to my one’s arrival also calmed me and assured me that having a baby does not have to mean your social life is a distant memory.
It’ll never again be a spontaneous trip where we just jump in the car and for that, we are grateful — Nothing can add more to our happiness that looking in the rear view mirror (which reflects his baby mirror) and seeing my son’s calm face as we drive — oblivious to the logistical packing nightmare that his arrival has brought.