Ah, the promise of a weekend away: whether you’re seeking sunshine, craving culture or fantasising about foodie treats, a mini break can be just the ticket.
Many millenia ago, circa 2012 BC (before children), we spent weekends skipping* around Europe with suitcases smaller than a packet of cornflakes and a, frankly reckless, absence of wet wipes.
*NB: My husband would like it to be known that he does not ‘skip’. His walk just gets a bit bouncy when he’s excited.
Last weekend, confined to the flat with baby and toddler for the purpose of potty training (it’s not all glamour), my husband and I exchanged several looks across a living area strewn with towels, laundry and assorted plastic crap. These looks mostly said:
‘This is our life now?’
It occurred to me that I might not be the only one reminiscing about the carefree days when bank holiday adventures didn’t involve orienteering around Ikea, and for whom a ‘mini break’ means going to the loo unaccompanied. And so, I figured out a way to have your croissant and eat it.
A baby and toddler are useful for this project, but not essential.
How to have a European mini break experience, without leaving your house
- Set your alarm for 3am, on the off chance the baby isn’t awake. Crawl out of bed wondering, again, why you didn’t just pay the extra £20 to travel at a reasonable hour.
- Head to ‘airport’ (any brightly lit room, with uncomfortable seating will do), delighted that in a mere 6 hours you will be sipping coffee in a lovely European piazza.
- Form a queue (involve the kids here – they will love to stand in line and wait, for no reason). If you’re at the front of the queue it’s best to cast suspicious glances at the person at the back of the queue whenever they move or breathe. They are probably attempting to queue jump.
- Have a prolonged debate about whether tweezers are dangerous objects (they are deadly, apparently).
- Form another queue. If you’re at the back of the queue, attempt to queue jump.
- It’s time to fly! Remove the cushions from your sofa and sprinkle stale beer and crisps on one end, then place your, preferably screaming, baby on the other. Choose your seats.
- Ask the toddler to kick the back of your seat for 3 hours.
- Enjoy some delicious packaged sandwiches for lunch (at 9.30am because you have been up since 3am). Pro tip: buy the sandwiches a few days in advance to get that authentic ‘past their best’ flavour.
- You’ve arrived! Welcome to *insert chosen European city*.
- Spend 90 minutes walking around your home, pretending to look for a monument that you don’t really understand the significance of and are not sure you really want to see.
- Have your partner take a selfie of you both, whilst the toddler pickpockets his wallet.
- Sit down in your pretend piazza. Enjoy the lack of pigeon poo (unless you are really trying to score points for authenticity and/or have some serious issues with your roof). Take it in turns to order coffee from each other and then deliver it thirty minutes later, cold, and with a bill for £10.
- Joke that ‘at this price you should have had a beer’.
- Have a beer.
- Begin your journey home, repeating steps 1-5.
My mental mini-break kept me amused for several potty-emptying missions. And then it popped into my mind that this was not very mindful behaviour at all.
I paused, and looked up from my milk-stained t-shirt and saw the baby break into a gummy smile. I saw the toddler looking so proud of herself as she hiked up her new knickers with both legs in the same hole. I caught my husband shaping some playdough into a turd. Nice try…I will not be falling for that again.
I remembered that paying attention to your life, just as it is, makes for happier times than focusing on ‘what was’ or ‘what might be’. And, there it was – I’d had my mini-break.
I looked at my husband again:
‘Yes, this is our life now.’
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