The beginning of our week on Koh Phangan was somewhat of a trainwreck, marred by tantrums and generally feeling bummed. Reuben’s mood was bringing me down and my thoughts on everything else quickly became overly negative.

I received some fantastic advice and much needed sympathy from my friends, family and fellow travelling parents. Thank you all for taking the time to provide support and suggestions.

Here’s what I took from what you said:

  • Let go of your pre-child ideals, attitudes and abilities. Mourn it, even. Don’t be jealous. Have a cry and get over it. Pretend for an hour or afternoon that you are a free and easy 20-something.
  • Make him feel secure. Even though he’s being awful, he still needs love and cuddles. Even if he’s crying, try and show him you care (and are not just annoyed).
  • Listen to him. There may be a reason for his distress. It may not be screaming for screaming’s sake.
  • No one is happy if Mama ain’t happy. Take time away from both husband and child. Get your head together – relax, meditate, try to enjoy the surroundings.
  • Enjoy time together as a couple. At night or during nap time. Watch TV, talk to one another, snuggle.
  • Do something different. He’s sick of the beach. Seek out a park or a boat ride. Mix it up.

And things have improved. They’re not perfect but they’re getting better.

We moved to a larger room. An extra NZ$12 a night for double the space is well worth it. If Reuben isn’t keen to play outdoors, like I thought he would be, then a bigger room is a must. An extra few metres makes all the different. Sometimes size does matter! He seems happier and is playing more – toy cars, throwing a ball, colouring with crayons and sweeping the deck with the little broom.

I’ve spent a bit of time alone. Had a few massages, sat out in the sun and swum in the ocean.

We’re sticking to a routine. We’re eating at the same place breakfast, lunch and dinner. Having almost the same meals. He’s playing with the restaurant staff and has space to run around.

We’re spending time learning. Reuben’s vocabulary has increased dramatically since we started travelling. We’ve started challenging him with more and more words every day. He’s loving it and picking words up very quickly. Even words he probably shouldn’t know like “Simpsons” and “ashtray”. I wish I’d bought the flashcards!

We are giving in to his demands. I’m not sure this is what we’re supposed to do… but it helps. Especially in the morning, if he gets what he wants he seems to be in a better mood for the rest of the day. So… he’s eaten ice cream for dinner, potato chips for breakfast and gets to watch DVDs whenever he wants. Is it a big deal? Not really. Would we do it at home? No way. For now, it’s serving a purpose.

He may have been feeling under-the-weather. We did an experiment and slipped some baby Paracetamol into his bottle one morning. It seemed to chill him out a little. So maybe he had a headache or sore throat. I wouldn’t be surprised if the amount of screaming he’s been doing was actually physically hurting him.

We’re still having “beaucoup de tantrums” but they have lessened in quantity and severity. Partly because of just giving in. Partly because I’m feeling a lot more sympathetic to Reuben’s needs. I realised I was being a tad selfish and forcing him to do things because I wanted to do them and I wanted him to have fun doing them.

Just to reiterate, to myself and my readers, that my child is not awful all of the time, here are some photos of him being thoroughly beautiful.

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Bethaney Davies
A traveller for over ten years, Bethaney started blogging here on Flashpacker Family in early 2012. She founded the site to encourage and inspire travel and travel with small children and to share her own stories from the road.
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Showing 18 comments
  • Martin Pietrzak
    Reply

    Looks like life is improving. Good call on the bigger place and the Thai massage married with alone time can work its magic. Enjoy your time alone and together.

    • Bethaney
      Reply

      Thanks Martin. Things are a lot better now that I’m not in such a bad mood. I think Reuben was definitely picking up on my annoyance and that was frustrating him even further. Hoping things will be better at our next beach destination after some time away from the beach.

  • Reply

    I’m so glad things are working out better for you Bethaney. I know it must be hard to let go of your expectations of your trip. Much love to you guys!

    • Bethaney
      Reply

      It’s hard to let go of expectations for sure. I guess I pictured us three, together, happily splashing around Thailand’s islands and beaches for a month. We arrived at another beach spot today and I’m not in the mood for it anymore either. Got a five minutes swim in the pool out of Reuby before he started to say “all gone” which means “get me the heck out of here before I lose my nut”.

      We’re looking forward to going to Penang next week for a bit more big city living!

      How are your plans coming along?

  • Izy Berry
    Reply

    I think sometimes it’s good to take some time to have a sulk, but just as important to get over it and make the most of things 🙂 Hope things continue on the up!

    • Bethaney
      Reply

      Crying is such good therapy!! It’s good to get all the emotions out and make room for more positive ones.

      Enjoy Sydney!

  • Sarah
    Reply

    It sucks when you see people doing things that you did so easily sans child… especially when yours is screaming. Well done on the mental attitude switch… just remember that people (like me) are jealous that you guys are where you are, even with a tantruming child.

    • Bethaney
      Reply

      Mine just always seems to be screaming!!!!! Ha.

      I totally get that we’re one lucky family and that lots of people would love to live like us. But a tantrum is a tantrum whether it’s in Oamaru or Koh Samui. Hehe.

  • Lou
    Reply

    Yay! So glad things are improving… sounds like YOU are learning a lot about yourself and your child through these tests. Sometimes I reckon these little ones are OUR teachers, not the other way round!

    Ha, ashtray, love it 🙂

    • Bethaney
      Reply

      It does sound like that a bit huh? That is what travel is about afterall – expand your horizons, push your limits and learn who you are along the way.

  • Lorraine Howard
    Reply

    Hi Bethaney
    I would say due to your previous job, being very organised, like me i take it home and plan everything down to a tee, and when things start going wrong get frustrated. I have had to learn to chill and take things as they are. Working progress.

    Enjoy reading your updates. Glad things are a bit better.

    • Bethaney
      Reply

      Definitely Lorraine. It’s hard NOT to plan because I enjoy that part of travelling so much. It is good to have a plan and know where to go and what to do. I guess being spontaneous and chucking the plan out the window is just as important!

  • Lisa Wood
    Reply

    He sure is cute 🙂 Love the photo where he is sticking out his tongue, and has a twinkle in his eyes. (second last photo)
    Sometmes kids pick up on our moods..so maybe now that you are more relaxed, and happy he will be too.

    Have fun – that beach sure looks fantastic!

  • Bethaney
    Reply

    I was tempted to video him chucking one of his epic wobblies… just so people would believe me! Is that too cruel!?!?!

  • with2kidsintow
    Reply

    It’s definitely harder to travel ‘with people’ than alone, and even harder with a toddler I’d think! It also takes time for everyone to settle into their ‘traveling groove’–and unfortunately how long that will be for each individual, only time will tell! hoping it will be sooner than later for you all, and by listening to each other, giving each other space and staying flexible, I’m sure it will be xoxo

  • Stacey
    Reply

    Aw the poor wee chap-and poor you too! I really admire you for being able to make your taveling work with a toddler and all the tantrums they have!

    Good on you for looking at the big picture and trying to figure out what’s wrong, I can imagine that you want to pull your hair out sometimes! I find it hard enough getting myself from point A to point B and not losing my passport lol.

    • Bethaney
      Reply

      Thanks Stacey. It certainly wasn’t easy but in the long run it was worth it!

  • Marie
    Reply

    I was laughing at “Simpsons” and “ashtray” because, unfortunately, my son picked up a couple of words from my husband and I that are a lot worse than that. So far, we think we’ve managed to rid his vocabulary of them…we hope. We are much more careful now, especially when driving in Auckland traffic, if you know what I mean. Incidentally, you can buy flashcards in the same bookshops that students shop in. They have heaps for English language learning, usually with cute little pictures.

    I hope the tantrum situation is lessening. I SO get it! We’ve recently been making an effort to let my son know exactly what is happening/going to happen in the day and that has helped a lot. We even give details like, “We are playing now while Daddy takes a shower and then you and Daddy will play while Mummy takes a shower. Then we will go out to…” I think after a big change in their routine (ie. changing countries, hotels, etc.) they just want to know what to expect. Of course they are not all the same, but I hope this helps somehow. Best of luck to you!

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