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How To Survive A Mini Break With A Toddler

Ah, the mini break. The little three day getaway where you envisage yourself laying back, totally relaxed, as your beau rows you around in a little boat reading you Keats under the midday sun (yes, basically just that scene from Bridget Jones) or sunning yourself, cocktail in hand, in some tropical paradise with the faint sound of a piano being played somewhere in the background.

However, when you have a toddler, mini breaks are a little different. The row boat has been replaced by giant, garishly bright inflatables that your toddler insisted she needed but will inevitably fall off of every ten seconds - and definitely have a tantrum over when it pops. Where once there were cocktails, there is now a 6 pack of juice cartons (as well as about 20 packets of crisps, at least a kilo of baby wipes that will somehow run out by day 2, and a squashed satsuma that you definitely forgot you'd packed) that you brought with you from home so you didn't have to buy snacks out. And the only piano being played is a miniature toy one that you bought from the gift shop in the hope that it would occupy your slightly heat-exhausted two year old. Spoiler alert: all kids suddenly think they're Beethoven when a mini piano appears but they really, really aren't. Your ears never truly recover.

So, with all this in mind, you may be wondering why on earth you would bother to take your toddler away with you on a mini break. Well, as I learnt on our recent trip to Mallorca, it can also be really lovely (albeit hard work). Ava adored our time away and, as a mummy blogger once told me at an event, the kids are gonna have tantrums at home anyway so why not do it somewhere scenic (with unlimited access to alcohol and ice cream). So, I thought I would sit down and hammer out a brief post detailing all the little tips and tricks I learnt on our holiday so that yours can hopefully run a little smoother.

Research the hotel like you are an undercover agent
It is very tempting to open up a travel site and simply book the cheapest deal that looks kinda alright and has a fairly good guest rating. But hold your horses, you need to do your research first. Is it near the airport? Is it hilly? Is it accessible? Do they have cots? Is it child friendly? Is the pool warm? Is it near the beach? Or a bus stop? Are there any local shops to pick up nappies and milk? Does the room have a fridge to store said milk? We were pretty lucky with our hotel in that it was quite child friendly and close to both the airport and the beach but the pools were freezing cold so we didn't get much use of them. It did come through in one area though - the TVs had 4 English channels and one of those channels was CBeebies. If you find a hotel that has CBeebies on the TV, book it straight away. It was honestly a godsend and my usually pretty wild child who never stops for a minute spent many an hour just lounging on the bed watching Mr Tumble with the sun streaming through the windows as Isaac and I enjoy the peace and ate our weight in Spanish goodies.

Take all the snacks on the plane
Last time we took Ava on a flight, she was around 15 months. Now she is around 19 months and it was totally different. She is confidently walking and is a lot more aware of everything going on. So, getting her to sit down for the two hours between Bristol and Palma de Mallorca was a real challenge. We ended up buying those horrifically overpriced kids snack boxes they sell on the plane just to contain her for a little while and spent the whole time wishing we had packed our own. If in doubt, wack chocolate buttons, some of those Ella Kitchen crisp things, and a box of raisins in a freezer bag and have it with their milk or juice so security can easily tell it is kid stuff. If it doesn't work out for whatever reason, buy a little something from one of the shops once you're through the gates. Maybe something like Haribo that will last longer as they will be chewing it. Also - another plane tip - if you can try to get an aisle seat, it makes life so much easier as you have unlimited access to your bags in the overhead locker and can take your kid on as much trips to the loo as they desire.

Try to stick to some kinda routine
I think that most kids aren't big fans of change and going to a whole new place, sleeping in a new bed, and just being in a totally different environment can be change enough so try to hold onto something from your routine. If you wash them in the morning, keep doing that when you're away. If they go to bed at 8pm, try to stick to that if possible. And, for the love of God, try to keep them eating their fruit and veg because they will only want to eat ice cream and cake for every meal and their bellies can't handle it (speaking from very real, very vivid experience that I wish I hadn't had).

Research kid friendly days out nearby
Try to put together at least a vague itinerary before you head off to your destination. Look at whether there are places like water parks or aquariums you could consider visiting or, if you want a slightly cheaper option, consider how far away the beach is or whether your hotel has a pool. On one of the days of our trip, we just chilled out at the beach and Ava loved playing in the sand. We also packed a ball for her to chase around which she really enjoyed. Your trip doesn't have to be mega structured but having an idea of what you could do if, for instance, it starts raining is always a good idea.

Go to a buffet
We booked our hotel in Mallorca on a bed and breakfast basis but we soon wished we had gone half board as a breakfast buffet and dinner buffet made the whole toddler in a restaurant thing so much easier to deal with. We did attempt to go to some other restaurants in pursuit of things like paella but it was so stressful as the wait was long and the restaurant was small and completely full of young, childless couples who deffo didn't appreciate Ava screeching 'Peppa Pig!!' at me as I fumbled to get my phone to connect to the wifi so she could watch Peppa Pig on YouTube. Buffets are just so much easier. They usually are quite informal. There's no waiting around. You don't have to worry whether your kid will eat what is on offer because they're bound to like at least one thing. And, whilst all the hot young things are off at swanky restaurants eating tapas, you get to relax in a slightly less pressurised environment and not have to listen to a backdrop of tuts as your child rips napkins to shreds and throws cutlery in every direction.

So, those are the few things that my mini break taught me. What are your top tips on how to survive a mini break with a toddler?

You may also enjoy:
Camping With A Baby: The Survival Guide
My Top Tips For Travelling With A Baby

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