When I got married on New Year's Eve 2014, the last thing on my mind was a honeymoon.
My wedding day was truly amazing – extra amazing because my one-year-old son Harry had just started sleeping through the night.
But the idea of a post-wedding getaway? I had about a thousand hours of sleep to catch up on first.
So on our wedding night my husband Karl and I put Harry to bed and settled down at home in our PJs with a takeaway.
When we finally got to go on honeymoon nine months later, we decided to take Harry with us. It just wouldn’t have been as much fun without his smiling little face every morning. However, by then Harry was 21 months old - and in full toddler tantrum mode. The terrible twos arrived early at our house and swept in with some force.
According to a survey by honeymoon funding company Patchwork Present, 14% of couples now opt for a 'family-moon'. But I couldn’t help wondering if we were brave or mad - is it ever a good idea to take a toddler on your honeymoon?
We booked a family-friendly hotel in Cornwall and kept our fingers firmly crossed.
Post honeymoon, we agreed it was the best break we’d ever had. It was hard work at times but loads of fun and a lovely bonding experience with our son.
Top tips on taking a toddler on your honeymoon:
- Location: In your pre-motherhood life you probably dreamt of spending your honeymoon lounging on a tropical beach, pausing between the pages of a novel to gaze lovingly into your beloved’s eyes. You’ll need to rethink that if you’re taking a toddler with you. Much of the honeymoon may be spent sprinting after your small person so factor in the heat, a child-friendly destination and comfy shoes.
- Travel: Stroppy youngsters might not want to sit through a long flight or car journey so consider how you want to travel – and for how long. Can you stay nearer to home or break up your trip with a stopover? Be prepared for the worst (delayed flights/traffic jams) and take plenty of distractions like a new book or toy plus snacks and drinks.
- Sleeping arrangements: Getting enough rest with a toddler can be challenging. They like getting up early and then supercharging their way through the day until they flop. If all three of you share a bedroom on honeymoon, be prepared to sacrifice some privacy and sleep. Our hotel room had an adjoining bedroom with a cot, so we could hear Harry but still have our own space - a really nice balance.
- Plan in some newlywed romance: It’s not easy finding couple time between nappy changes and feeding but help is out there. Some hotels offer a crèche/kids’ club or baby listening service so you can grab a drink or grown up dinner (without a high chair).
- Equipment: Accommodation that comes with a cot, high chair and changing mat can be a godsend for a hassle-free honeymoon. If you’re going self-catering, check there are stair gates and blackout blinds.
- Shops: A romantic bolthole in the wilds of rural Wales might seem a good idea but however organised you think you are, you’ll probably run out of something. Make sure there’s somewhere nearby for emergency supplies (nappies, baby wipes or Calpol). Driving on dark country roads searching for an all night chemist can test even the most stoic honeymooner.
- Days out: Do your research before you leave. If you fancy long romantic walks, are they buggy friendly? If you’re beach bound, is the sea shallow/safe for toddlers to hurl themselves into? As toddlers can be quite high-energy, factor in plenty of fresh air and exercise. That way they’ll be so exhausted you might get an extra hour in your honeymoon bed the next morning.
- Photos: Remember to get photos of the three of you if you can persuade your small person to stand/sit down for a few seconds. Honeymooning with your toddler creates the most fantastic memories.