I recently took my kids … ages three and one … on a trip to Europe for 6 weeks. While I grew up visiting my family in Europe every summer, this was the first time I was bringing my kids by myself overseas, largely due to coronavirus. I knew it wouldn’t always be easy, but I wasn’t mentally prepared for what I did endure.
Neither child slept the entire 24 hour trip. There was lots of walking around the airports, entertaining, and a little bit of crying. Our usual night routine was tested as we all slept together in a room, often in the same bed. While the kids do share a room at home, they each have their own bed. Neither enjoyed being rolled over or kicked by the other, and I was always left with very little space on the bed. My kids thrive on naptime, which was often not possible while we were underway visiting friends, family or being tourists. The lack of a nap resulted in irritable children or in some cases, seemingly defiant toddlers refusing to properly sit still at the dinner table. Everything became a funny game, whether it was look at how messy I can eat or testing any other limit possible. Being curious individuals and attempting to entertain themselves, they opened nearly every cabinet, drawer or dresser. Sometimes they found acceptable things to entertain themselves with and other times it was potentially breakable items. It was mentally exhausting and oftentimes frustrating.
During this trip, it was also Queen Elizabeth’s Jubilee Celebration. Over the multi-day celebration, pictures of 4 year old Prince Louis emerged. Prince Louis was described as displaying behavior that is expected from a typical 4 year old, regardless of royal titles. Sitting through hours long ceremonies, for multiple days is difficult for most children, so the silly faces captured on camera, large hand gestures from Prince Louis and gentle parenting techniques from Kate Middleton were praised by media outlets.
For me, this came at a great time as it helped me practice patience and understanding during the rough 3 and a half hour train ride. Visiting new houses and learning what was appropriate to play with and what needed to be left alone. We took advice from Kate Middleton and removed ourselves for breaks and retreated to our bedroom as necessarily and re-emerged to join the celebration when our energy was reigned back in. Prince Louis helped remind me that my child is just a 3 year old displaying age appropriate behavior despite my desires to have her sit perfectly still. Thank you, Prince Louis.