We had an experiment. Myself and Hollie are often up and down the country. Since moving to Nottingham, we now appreciate how much we still need London for things, so often find ourselves back there. We’ve both got business in the North West and the West Midlands, so find ourselves around those sides a lot. Usually, we can take care of things with day trips – either driving or on the train – to where ever in the country we need to be.
The kids usually stay at home (if both of us are required, there are plenty of willing volunteers to take them) and the disruption is minimal. But there are lots of times when we need to stay overnight, so we tried something new.
Earlier on in the week we needed to be in Manchester, and we decided it was the perfect opportunity to test the waters with our eldest. If he coped well, it would be a game-changer. It’s the first time since our Scotland visit that he’s had an overnight stay in anywhere other than his own bed. Our night time routine is solid right now, but he’s older (23 months), so though the might react differently to the change of scenery.
Cameo loved the drive up to Manchester. We can’t get him to stop singing “Baby Shark” yet, but if we do enough of these road trips, it won’t be long before he’s singing along to Ginuwine, Craig David, Mariah and the rest of the R&B CD selection that comes out when we’ve got a long drive ahead of us. Fresh from nursery, he had a quick McDonald’s and spent the next couple of hours playing with his Happy Meal monkey all the way to MCR.
Cameo kept telling us “Going home now,” to which we told him that he was actually on his way to a hotel. New words are always exciting to him, so he trusted us. He still had faith when he saw the levels we went to with this hotel. We couldn’t do things cheap on his first overnight stay as part of the entourage for a business trip, so we took him to a Novotel. Flashy.
This Manchester Novotel branch was impressive. Our family room was very spacious (a necessity when you’re travelling with three times the amount of luggage we usually would). Our queen-size bed was accompanied by a single, beneath which was a floor bed. It was as good as we could have hoped for.
(Note: we didn’t have time to take photos of the pristine room, because Cameo was straight in there and proceeded to climb on each of the beds to show us how well he can jump these days).
The purpose of the trip was for Hollie to attend dinner at The Ivy with a fashion brand, leaving myself and Cameo to entertain ourselves for the evening. Once the time came, Hollie slipped out while he was playing with his MegaBloks (making sure he wasn’t unsettled in this strange new place). Everything up to this point was calm. Cameo was confused, but manageable.
While Hollie was out Cameo ordered room service and he was living life. They didn’t have a kids menu, but could handle the adult-size chicken burger himself anyway. (At this point, I have to pause to say now that the spicy chicken wings were so good that I got three portions, and I advise you to do the same).
Bedtime arrives and oh – he realises this is all a bit odd. He gets changed, brushed his teeth and all the usually stuff. Then he realises Mama’s not here. I tell him the deal, and he understands that she’ll be back when he wakes up. I take him over to his bed. Kiss and cuddle. Lights off. I pull out the MacBook. Time to get things done. We’re good.
After he lay there for a couple of minutes, he decided it was time for him to think about all the important things going on in his life.
1. He told me “Sick in shop”.
Cameo was reminding me (as if I needed it) that he vomited in his B&M trolley on Monday.
Another minute goes by.
2. He sits up and pulls up his pyjama top, shouting: “Belly button!”
Yep, another reminder I needed. I tell him that it’s bed time, he lays his head on the pillow again, and there’s another moment of calm.
Then he pulls out his all-time favourite way to get my attention:
This child thinks it’s hilarious that he can (nearly) say my real name. With that, I asked him if he wanted to sleep in my bed (something he hasn’t done since he was extra small) and he jumped at the opportunity.
Cameo eventually fell to sleep. Hollie eventually returned. We both eventually got into bed. That’s when the drama kicked off. Cameo stirred as we positioned him in the centre of the bed (as it definitely would have fallen out if one of the sides was free). He then started snoring (??) What followed was a night of headbutts, backhands, and toes dug in-between ribs.
It was relentless.
At 3am, he properly woke up and was thrilled to see that Mama was back. He was so happy that he did a jumping sit-down splash on her to let her know. There was a full hour of both of us trying to convince him that it was still bedtime. All he knew was that there was a light on, so that must mean it’s time to get up, so we spent that hour dragging him back to his pillow in a drowsy haze.
The morning was great. Novotel’s do breakfast right, and I went all the way in with three plates of hot food, followed by cereal, yoghurt, bowl of fruit and the oh so essential plate full of pastries. It’s up there with the best hotel breakfasts I’ve had. Cameo was content with a single sausage, a muffin and a few rounds of watermelon. Checkout wasn’t until midday and we usually long it out when we’re not in a rush, but our night time trauma meant we rushed out by 9.30am and went about our business.
Cameo is no longer welcome in our bed. We’ll try this again in a year.