We took our first mini-break as a family of 3 when baby girl was just 3 and a half weeks old. Husband was on paternity leave and my parents suggested that we go away with them for a weekend whilst we still had good Summer weather. We decided to go to the coast a couple of hours drive from home, packed up with everything we needed from home to make our stay as comfortable as possible. I expected to feel like I wanted to go home when I was away, as I was still getting to grips with taking care of a baby and thought that being somewhere unfamiliar would be overwhelming. But I actually think it was one of the best things we did in those first few weeks of parenthood. It felt like a break and the change of scenery was welcome. And because my mum and dad were with us, we had some really useful help, which we appreciated.
Go somewhere that feels homely
We stayed in a cottage for our short break, so it had all of the features and cosiness of home, without the mess and responsibility of doing chores. I would never have chosen to stay in a hotel, we needed somewhere that had plenty of space and all our own facilities, so we could take all of baby’s things and not be bound by a small space. It meant that we could cook our own breakfasts in the mornings, but we also stayed close by to restaurants, so that we could also go out to eat.
Take what you know you’ll need
We packed up pretty much an entire car-full of stuff to take with us, but it was everything we needed in order to feel like we could relax and enjoy our time away. We took our baby bath, the bedside crib, nursing pillow – anything to make it feel like a home away from home. Yes, it was likely a little excessive for a few days, but it made me feel comfortable knowing we had anything we might possibly need and that was the most important thing for our first trip away with baby.
Go when baby is little
We decided to go away when Ella was still small enough to sleep a lot of the time. It meant we could go out and about a lot without worrying about sleeping and feeding schedules because I just popped her into the baby sling/carrier and went wandering. She went on her first bus journey and travelled (very briefly) by boat, so it was fun to do all those things knowing that she was perfectly fine wrapped up against me. It would’ve been a whole other story a few months down the line when we would’ve needed to spend more time entertaining her and trying to organise our days around getting her to nap at certain times. Feeding was also super easy as I was breastfeeding, so there was no need to take any feeding stuff out with us.
Travel in a small group
If you feel more comfortable having a bit of help and support on your first family trip, ask another couple to go with you. I found being with my parents a huge help, my mum could help with things like bathing, which she loved, and they even took Ella out for a walk in the pram so that husband and I could take a nap. We could also do our own thing, if we wanted to, so we had a good mixture of being alone and with a small group. It was also nice to go out for dinner, something we hadn’t done since Ella’s birth, as we could all look after Ella, eat and enjoy some good conversation.
Don’t go too far
We travelled about 160 miles by car on our trip. Ella was amazing during the journey, sleeping almost the entire way, and when she did get fussy, we just stopped at a lovely restaurant and had some lunch (her too). We would likely have stopped on the journey even if she hadn’t gotten fussy, as it’s nice to visit somewhere along the way and stretch your legs, but it was the perfect distance from home for our first little holiday. With the break it took about 3 and a half hours to travel, which I felt was just right. We got to visit a gorgeous part of the UK, without it feeling like it was this huge distance to travel and it meant the travel time didn’t take up too much of our weekend.
I hope this is helpful if you have a newborn and are thinking about going somewhere as a new family. It was such a great trip for us and I’m really glad we took it as we made some really lovely memories together that I’m sure we’ll remember fondly as our daughter grows up. Who knows, we might even travel that way again one day when she’s a bit older and remind her of our first holiday together. They are times you won’t get back, so make them as special as you possibly can.