toddler at the splash pad

4 Things That Make Holidaying With a Toddler Harder Than Nuclear Physics*

(*Not actually true.)

(*Close, though.)

So. we’re having a fantastic time here in central Florida, and not even the weird splotches of fake tan on my foot can dampen my enthusiasm for being back in a place where it’s sunny all the time, and the local ZARA is open until 11pm every night. Max, meanwhile, is having the time of his life: there, are, however, a few things about being on holiday with a toddler which make it literally the hardest thing in the entire world, ever: and by “literally” I obviously mean “figuratively” here, and also, “I am totally just exaggerating for dramatic effect: please don’t send me ‘grammar nazi’ emails explaining what ‘literally’ means, or post comments telling me how lucky I am, because then I’ll have to write a follow-up post called, ‘Things That Make Writing Light-Hearted Blog Posts Harder Than Nuclear Physics’, and the whole cycle will start again.”

I’ve made this awkward now, haven’t I? Let’s just jump right in, then, shall we, with this TOTALLY LIGHTHEARTED AND NOT EVEN REMOTELY SERIOUS blog post. Here are some of the things that make holidaying with a toddler a bit like being on one of those hidden camera shows, where you’re presented with some kind of totally ridiculous situation, just so people can laugh at your attempts to deal with it…

Putting sunscreen on the toddler

Coming this winter, from Forever Amber Productions, the impossible new video game, ‘Putting Sunscreen on a Toddler. Pit your wits and test your reactions against the wiliest, craziest foe you’ve ever encountered: a 16-month-old toddler who just wants to jump straight into the pool before you’ve finished lathering him in SPF50. Progress through the levels to face the ultimate boss: Toddler On The Beach. CAN YOU OUTWIT HIM? You’re about to find out…”

Max and daddy at the splash padSeriously, though, who do I pitch this to? Because if there’s something harder than putting sunscreen on a wriggling, squirming baby, who is 100% planning to just stand up and run away halfway through the procedure, I REALLY don’t want to know what it is. Putting Max’s sunscreen on is currently a three-man/woman job: it takes one person to hold him still, one person to actually apply the sunscreen, and a third person to dance around in front of him, singing ‘Downtown’ by Petula Clark, which is, slightly bizarrely, his favourite song. And to think that daytime drinking is frowned upon!

Getting him in and out of a baby swimsuit

Have you ever tried putting on a pair of Spanx that are a few sizes too small? OK, imagine doing that while drunk, and also while covered in grease, say, or something else super-slippy. This would still be at least 5X easier than getting a toddler into a swimsuit, but it does, at least, give you SOME idea of what it’s like.

baby playing in the waterAgain, the boss level in this particular game involves getting the toddler in and out of his swimsuit on the beach. Where there is sand. And groups of interested onlookers. And, again, while I said you should imagine trying to do this drunk, it’s important to remember that it’s frowned upon to actually BE drunk in this situation, so, yeah. Sucks to be you, hey?

The Battle of the Hat

Before we left the UK, I bought Max a selection of sunhats, carefully chosen so that, no matter what he was wearing, he would have a hat to match.

As soon as we got here, Max took each hat in turn, and tossed it into the swimming pool. Or the street. Or under the wheels of his pushchair. Anywhere, really, other than on his head. (And yes, I know he’s wearing a hat in most of these photos, but that’s only because the photos were all taken in a three-minute period shortly after we arrived at the splash pad, and while he was still too distracted by the water. Then he snatched the hat off his head and tossed it into the water. My most-repeated phrases on this trip are, “HAT STAYS ON, PLEASE!” and, “But what if he burns his scalp?!” )

Highchairs are for babies

Last, but by no means least, comes the nightly Battle of the High Chair, in which no less than four adults compete to persuade Max to remain in his restaurant high chair until his food arrives. Max meanwhile, passes this time in a number of ways:

01. Pointing out the ceiling fans to random passers-by and instructing then to turn them off. “FAN! OFF! OFF!”

02. Pointing to his fellow diners, and yelling, “MAN!” or “LADY!” as he feels appropriate. How long will it be before he seriously offends someone, I can’t help but wonder?

03. Pointing at the doors to the kitchen and shouting, “CHIPPIES! CHIPPIES!” (‘Chippies’ being ‘chips’, or ‘fries’, btw. He likes them. A lot.)

04. Choosing one lucky diner – apparently at random – to stare creepily at for the duration of the meal.

We’ve been doing our best to avoid all of this by taking him out of the restaurant for a walk as soon as we’ve placed our orders. We’ve spent a lot of time in parking lots on this trip. Also a lot of time under tables, picking up the toys we brought to distract him, and which he instantly cast to the ground, like a sunhat.

We’re having take-out tonight, needless to say. It’s a good job he’s cute, no?

(These photos were taken at the Dr. Phillips Splash Pad in Orlando: an awesome community park where Max befriended a group of little girls, and spend the rest of his time there running around joyfully yelling, “GIRLS! GIRLS! GIRLS!” This was, however, at least marginally less inappropriate than when he walked up to a little boy at the mall and shouted, “DUMMY!” He was, of course, referring to the child’s pacifier: I REALLY hope that didn’t get lost in translation, though…)

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  • Can I just say that I love the title to this post!

    May 24, 2019
  • Alice


    I’m really glad that I am teaching my daughter a second language. This means that when we are on the train and she points to someone walking down the corridor and says “she’s going to pee in the toilet” I can hope that not everyone understands what she is saying!

    Re the hats – we had the same battle with my daughter at that age, a year or so later she loves her hat and wears it all the time. But you know you can get scalp sunscreen spray? We used that when she really refused the hat.

    May 24, 2019
  • Sarah


    ? we have just been swimming and then for some lunch with my 13 month old so I can totally relate! Hope you are still managing to relax and enjoy your holiday xx

    May 24, 2019
  • Myra


    Made me laugh out loud with a pretty accurate description of sun cream application, and if experience is anything to go by, you have another 10 years of that ahead lol. As to the hat the only tip I can offer is get a hat with a chin strap, as he will never keep one on that he can just yank off.
    Delighted to see you are having such a great holiday.

    May 24, 2019
  • I am here t tell you that the constant battle with the hat will pay off in the end: My kids are 3 and 5 years now, and after spending the first two summers with each constantly putting their hat back on, they now refuse to leave the house without it between May and September. No matter if it is raining outside and you really, really need to get going they insist on getting their hats. And they will constantly point out people on the street saying things like: “Look mum, that man doesn’t wear a hat, isn’t that stupid?”.
    Yes, it will pay off in the end, at least for that hat wearing. For the rest though… Oh well.

    Linda, Libra, Loca: Beauty, Baby and Backpacking

    May 25, 2019
  • Tracey


    Okay this is one of the funnier things I’ve read this week; thanks Amber!

    May 30, 2019