Last February, Pete convinced me to go on a cross-country ski excursion to a cabin in Quebec. I say “convinced me” because I wasn’t ready, with a five-month-old, for a trip like that. But looking back, I think it’s something I could do (with an older baby, of course) and I’m ready to share some of the lessons I learned on that adventure.
Some backstory: Pete’s friends live in Ottawa, which is about a six-hour drive from us. His friends, who had two little ones at the time, aged almost-four and eighteen months, had done this trip before and had made it an annual event. Pete was really looking forward to seeing them and getting away for a long weekend.
The long drive to Ottawa was followed, a few days later, by another long drive to the park in Quebec, which was then followed by a long cross-country ski into the cabin. It was only accessible by ski or snowmobile. The park delivered some of our luggage by snowmobile (and a park warden stopped by once a day to check on us) but we towed some of our gear, and kids, by chariot.
The cabin was on a beautiful lake, and it was fairly remote.
There was no hydro or running water. We had water filters and propane for lights, so we weren’t roughing it too much. There were wood stoves for heat. And although I had to run out to the outhouse in the middle of the night (in February, in Quebec, brrr…) I will admit that I’ve never seen such beautiful stars as I did on those nights.
We stayed for two nights, and here are some of the lessons I learned:
1) Don’t push yourself. This is a good, general parenting rule. I’ve learned not to push myself too much. Sometimes I try to do too much, and I always pay the price. For new parents, it can be hard to accept your new limits, especially if you were very active or very social. It can be hard to accept that you can’t travel as much or be as spontaneous as you once were. But things change so quickly with little ones and soon you’ll be able to do more of those things again.
2) Travel once your baby is eating solid food. This is just a personal rule I’m going to follow myself, and it’s related to point number one. I found it stressful to be the sole source of food for my baby on a trip like this. I wasn’t ready for it. I find, now that C eats snacks, that it is so easy to keep her happy and full in a pinch.
3) Follow your own schedule. As a new parent, I found routines comforting, and C depended on them. Even at five months, our baby had a fairly regular routine. By travelling with others, we really upset that routine and that meant that our baby (who was exclusively breastfed at the time) went too long without eating, and that stressed both me and her out.
All in all, I would say the trip was a success. We all survived, Pete got to visit with some great friends, and we all learned to properly appreciate indoor plumbing.