We’ve just come back from what could be our last ever break as a three. It almost didn’t happen. Despite talking about it for a few weeks beforehand, we couldn’t find anywhere suitable that ticked all the (many) boxes. But then we realised we were being a bit fussy and when I got a Late Rooms offer through for a Mother’s Day stay in a country hotel and spa in the Cotswolds, I clicked through straight away (we didn’t end up getting exactly the deal that I thought I’d applied for, but that’s another story).
With Sunday sorted we decided to stay in a budget room on Saturday so we could make the most of our weekend away. We ended up in the Premier Inn in Witney, which was actually great – very comfortable, clean and close to the town. We had some great days out at the Cotswold Wildlife Park (thanks to Aby @ You Baby Me Mummy for the inspiring animal pics!) and Chedworth Roman Villa (lots of activities for children and a beautiful site), as well as walks around the grounds of Wyck Hill House in Stow-on-the-wold (our Sunday night hotel). We also found some nice restaurants and cafes to eat at and managed to have a rather chilly picnic. And I got my spa treatment yesterday – it was heavenly 🙂
When it was time to rest our weary heads at the end of each day (we were very hopeful she’d be weary) we went back to our family room. We haven’t ever shared a family room in a hotel before – we usually go for self catering holidays where Scrip can have her own room or stay with friends and family and use the monitor. And it’s much more difficult than we thought it would be to find adjoining rooms in a hotel. To be honest, when we booked two family rooms I had visions of being forced to put the lights out at 7.30pm and lie stock still on our bed in the dark, afraid to shift and rustle the covers. But I needn’t have worried and it actually worked really well.
I looked for some tips on staying in a family room before we left but I found very little online. So I thought I’d share mine. Here are 6 things I’ve learnt to make sharing a family room with a toddler harmonious.
Push your timings: we packed some interesting, different activities into the days and tried to push all the meals back a little. So we ate lunch an hour later, had a tea and snack break during the afternoon and were able to eat dinner at 7pm instead of the usual 5.30pm. This meant we could all eat together and by the end of the meal she was getting suitably sleepy and going to bed later meant she was very ready to drop off.
But still fit a nap in, if you can: so she didn’t get completely over-tired we made sure she had nap time each day. But as we were all in the room together we encouraged a nap in the car instead. We didn’t stick to her usual timings of after lunch; it was more when we were driving for more than 20 minutes and we used her sleep cues (‘muzzy’, her well-worn muslin, in her case).
Have a good dose of fresh air: we wrapped up warm during our days and did plenty of outdoor activities, which I think helped her sleep better at night. We also had some quiet time back in the hotel while we relaxed (I even read a magazine cover-to-cover…) and she watched cartoons or played on the iPad.
The bigger the room, the better: the Premier Inn was fine but we were more conscious of noise when we were closer together. We had a bigger room with an alcove in Wyck Hill House – so we could put chairs up on the side of her bed and make sure the TV was facing well away from her for 9pm Poldark watching 😉 We could have even rigged up a sheet for a makeshift barrier if we’d have been more organised.
Pop into the bathroom when they’re dropping off: once we’d had bath and stories we popped into the bathroom and closed the door. Not the most glamorous of locations but it gave her a chance to fall asleep without us hovering over her and it gave us a chance to get into our PJs (more glamour!). Just 15 minutes made sure she was sleeping soundly when we crept back in. Then we were able to put the TV on quietly without disturbing her.
Recreate the home environment: we made the mistake of putting Scrip to sleep with a lamp on during the first evening . She then woke up in the night and asked for it to be turned back on (cue sleep masks for parents and makeshift dimmed lighting effects with t-shirts at 2am). So the second night we put on her star projector (part of an old BT monitor) and kept just the bathroom light on in the background so we could see. We kept the projector on all night so if she did wake up, things were just the same. We also made sure she had support on the sides and top of her bed (the backs of chairs and bolster pillows) so the bed felt more like hers and she didn’t slip out.
I hope that helps with your family room stays – especially if yours are even more exciting than Poldark in your PJs!