Advice For Adapting To A Vacation House

Summer is here. The family has moved south of San Francisco for my husband’s work. Not so bad you’ll tell me, after all, people from around the country (and even the world if you listen to the locals) come here to enjoy the magical wild coastline. I guess Céleste, my 1-year-old daughter is too young to get a sense of the beauty of the place and enjoy the luxury of a summer vacation house. For her, our move seems unwelcome. Here are few things I wish I was aware of, before our temporary move.

  • Tour the house

I’ve found all kinds of weird things here. A bowl full of what looked like very coarse salt crystals,  pointy sticks of wood, traps, insect repellent…all tucked away in corners and in the least expected places. The point is: you never know who came around before you and what they left behind. Especially inspect the bathroom (check for medicines), the kitchen (knives, glass items in lower shelves, whether the oven door heat isolated or not) and the laundry room (where is the detergent being stored, any random cleaning supplies lying around?)

  • Get on a routine quickly

Bébé likes having a routine. The best way to give it to him on holiday is to find nearby places that you can often go back to. This way he will become familiar with his new environment faster. When I got here, I looked for the closest playground to the house. Then, I tried to find some activities for bébé, such as music or swim classes. If you are in the US, check out the local library’s calendar, as they often offer free story time and sometimes even music time weekly.

  • Seek out new threats

I find that when you get to a new place, danger lurks around every corner. At home, I can easily identify the sounds when Céleste is briefly out-of-sight. “Oh, she’s playing with this pot, or opening this drawer, it’s fine,” I tell myself. Here I have the learn a whole new sets of sounds, and for instance spot that door she will always want to play with, and always pinch her finger in…

  • Be ready to improvise

You may have carefully picked your place, and looked at tens of pictures to make sure bébé’s room will be dark enough or big enough for his Pack n’ Play but you might have some surprises. If you are expecting the unexpected, it will be less stressful. For instance, we had to deal with a very bright room for bébé, which led to early wake-ups. Well, I’ve raided the house and have found  some dark blankets to hang over the curtain rod with the help of clothes pins. Also, the kitchen here happens to be right next to bébé’s room, so I try to get dinner ready ahead of time.

  • Messed up bedtimes

Since we got here, she has not been able to fall asleep at night without a good 20 minutes of crying, ending with the Mama’s best soothing move: a back rub. I am surprised because it’s not the first time Céleste has slept in a new environment. We’re just coming from a road trip to Guatemala, and in her first year of life we took her to three different countries and traveled about ten times within the US. We are even using the same Pack n’ Play with her sheets. Bébé and his mysterious behaviours…

  • Be hopeful

I like being in control. Losing it tends to make me crazy. And I totally did when we got to our summer house. Fortunately, within a week, things got back on track. The same will happen for you, so be hopeful!

Happy vacation to you all!

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