We just got back from a 6 day trip to Auckland. Loren went up for work, Sebastian and I tagged along. We stayed in Devonport, an upscale neighborhood with a small town feel, and a 12 minute ferry ride to Auckland CBD. It felt a bit like pretending at living in Auckland for the week, what with Loren going off to work every day and me doing the SAHM thing just like I do back home. I did try and do a bit of sigh seeing, but it was all stuff I could imagine doing with S on an average week if we lived there. Twice we went to the local library, checked out the toys in the children's section, and I had the same sorts of conversations with fellow mums that I would back home. A couple times we strolled to the park and Sebastian did the playground thing, and chased the birds.
One sunny morning we walked up the top of a hill with a stunning lookout over Auckland in all directions. One day we took the ferry to downtown and went to the Maritime Museum, near the ferry terminal. It had some areas where Sebastian could explore without risk of getting into much mischief. One such area was a recreation of the cabin of an immigrant ship. The whole room was set to subtly rock back and forth like the cabin of a real ship at sea. It was kind of dark in there and proved to be a nice cozy spot to nurse. Another day I we went to the "mums and bubs" movie at the cinema around the corner. It was a documentary about senior citizens playing ping pong. Sebastian fell asleep part way through and got a good half hour's nap in my lap while I sipped my hot cocoa. It was all the nap he got that day which made for a long afternoon for us both, but I felt triumphant for having got through an entire movie with a toddler in tow, and he made hardly a peep through the whole thing. He had to comment on the brief appearance of a dog at one point, but mostly he fed and cuddled and ate snacks and slept.
A holiday is always good for getting out of your comfort zone and discovering new ways of looking at things. This is just as true with a toddler. We had no bath so Sebastian showered with me every night, which was lovely. By the end of his portion of the shower he was usually relaxed cuddled against me, getting sleepy and droopy already. Then Loren would take him and get him dried and dressed while I took my time with the rest of my shower. We had never done showers with Sebastian before, and it's nice to know it's an option now. In fact when we arrived home last night, road weary and bedraggled, we did this same shower routine simply because it was easier and faster.
I also learned that Sebastian is much better in the stroller now. We were staying in a holiday home very near the shops, and we had no car, so he did a lot of stroller travel and he tolerated it with very little complaint. I found this mode of getting around to be a welcome change. I enjoyed getting fresh air and some exercise wherever we went. I used to walk so much before Sebastian came along. He was just so unhappy with the stroller for the longest time. And yes, back home in Tawa we are further from the shops, maybe 25 mins. walk, but there is a train. The way we hopped on the ferry in Devonport we could hop on the train in Tawa and be in Wellington CBD in 17 minutes, and have a nice day out. It's something to consider as Spring has just arrived.
We also ate out every night we were there, so we got pretty good at eating out with a toddler. Our strategy: arrive early and request outdoor seating if the weather allows it. If you can manage these two things, then you can eat at even the fanciest restaurant without much worry. There's usually no one else there if you stroll in at 5:30 for dinner, so you don't have to worry about annoying other patrons. If you sit outside then you don't feel so bad about the food your toddler is going to toss on the ground, and it's no big deal if he wants to have a wander around before dinner arrives. One day Sebastian and I caught the ferry to meet Loren after work in the for dinner in downtown Auckland. We picked a fancy restaurant on the waterfront with a nice big outdoor area. We walked in at 5pm and were the only patrons in the outdoor area the whole time. We got an awesome view of the harbor with our dinner, and we learned that Sebastian loves horseradish sauce with his char-grilled lamb. An excellent dinning experience all round.
Most importantly I was reminded that traveling with Sebastian can be a lot of fun. You have to take your time when traveling with a toddler; you have to slow down and appreciate the little things. For instance, the Devonport shops had these posts that people had knitted coverings for, in all different colors and patters and types of yarn. Every time we went past these, Sebastian insisted that we stop at each of them so we could check them out.
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