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"For us second-time mums, babymoons are impossible. So we took a toddlermoon instead."

Mamamia logo Mamamia 13/04/2019 Amy Nelmes Bissett

I’ll admit it, the premise isn’t that alluring. A very pregnant woman going on a very long car journey over an eight day period with a toddler gripped by the whys and a bladder that demands a pee stop every 45 minutes.

If it was a movie, it would go straight to DVD because really, who in their right mind would put themselves through that just weeks before the arrival of their second child? Well, yeah you guessed it, I am she.

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A few weeks ago, I embarked on what some might call a trip that would test patience, mind and soul – a road trip around New Zealand with my husband and our two-and-a-half-year-old son as I boob-sweated through my 33rd week of pregnancy.

“Oh a babymoon,” my friends bleated when I told them about the break. They had some strange misconception that it’d involve long luxurious walks, spa days and two servings of dessert in the finest restaurants New Zealand had to offer.

Oh no, no. Let’s make one thing clear, a babymoon is only really possible if you’re on your first pregnancy. For us second-time mums, that’s a memory that’s left behind with stain-free clothes and regular blow-drys.

This was a little different. This was a toddler-moon. Never heard of it? Well, that’s because I made it up somewhere between Auckland and the East Coast as my son squealed “holiday” for four consecutive hours inside the tight confines of a Honda Accord.

The concept is easy really. Both parents take annual leave to holiday with their first born one last time. It’s a kind of finale to life as a three before the fourth arrives and life is flipped upside down with sleepless nights and a regular rotation of dirty nappies.

a person standing on a beach © supplied

Why a road trip? Well, when we started planning I’d overlooked the fact I’d have the best part of 2.5 kilos of ready-made baby kicking me in the bladder as we drove and because road trips had become our thing since Max was born.

But really, it can be any type of holiday and I would strongly suggest a week at a luxury resort in Fiji that offers pool-side mocktails at demand because a toddler-moon can be created in any setting as it’s more about what you do, rather where you are.

And the what you do is this, you abandon all hope of actually getting any R&R and create what became known as the “Festival of Max”. But insert your own child’s name in so it doesn’t get weird.

And for the next eight days we kind of let him take the lead. He did what he wanted, when he wanted. Well, within reason. When he started to scale the balcony at Hilton Lake Taupo, we did do some form of parenting.

a boy sitting in a tent © supplied

And wow, I can tell you that the little dude really loves being pushed in a swing. If it wasn’t for the cajoling qualities of ice-cream, we might have spent the rest of our lives in some sort of mindless groundhog where we just pushed and pushed and pushed and he just said, higher, higher and higher.

But thanks to Kiwi’s finest soft cones, we also had afternoons at the swimming pool, cuddles as we watched Peppa Pig in our dressing gowns and early evenings where we feasted on hot chips on the beach before collecting shells.

He was living his best life and while it was absolutely exhausting being ruled by a pint-sized toddler (inset the word ‘diva’, really), in turn we were loving having some serious one-on-one time.

And I will agree it’s a little indulgent but here’s the thing, soon it will be busy and soon our world will be spun beyond recognition. So this was the last time ever (actually, ever!) where he got to enjoy the final little snippet of life with his parents without having to share them.

a man wearing sunglasses and a hat © supplied

And my husband and I also took the time to reflect on the last two and a half years as parents, about our achievements and struggles, and to see first-hand, away from the exhausting nature of every day life, how amazing our first creation had become.

And you know what else we talked about? How we’d bloody survived. For a long time, right at the start when you have this tiny baby, it feels like the chances are stacked against you and you’re not entirely sure if you’ll all make it.

But we did it and in a few weeks time, we’ll do it all over again. And it’s a little less daunting when you’ve a cheeky-faced two-and-a-half year old who looks over his all-you-can-eat breakfast and asks with the sweetest of smiles , “Swing today? Just one swing? Yeah? Yeah? YEAH?!”

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