Dear Mother Travellers – my kindred spirits, my fellow sufferers – dear friends! If you are hungry like me for sightseeing, city hopping, cultural discovery or just to feel free, if you have spent last seven years being pregnant, breast feeding, changing diapers and winning (or loosing) small daily battles no one before told you the parenthood is all about, here are some tips for how to spend a wonderful day in Venice with two balls of energy, age six and three, and remain sane.
1. If you can avoid it – don´t sleep in Venice. Get a lovely place on any Lido nearby (there are plenty). Cut on the budget by sleeping over in Lido di Jesolo and use a ferry that rides every 30 min until deep in the night (1am).
2. Get a buggy for one. A buggy for two won´t fit narrow Venetian streets and you can teach your children how to share, once again. Parenting is fun, right? I even saw some super parents carrying a foldable handcart. Great stuff!
3. You´ll need water. Loads of water. Pack small bottles of water, so that you can distribute the load in several bags.
4. Force your preschooler to carry its own small backpack. Convince her/him it´s like going to a school excursion. School excursions are fun, my daughter always rush when we are leaving for the excursion day and she alway carry her backpack with her. Parenting is all about framing the message. I needed to teach myself that one.
5. You´ll need sandwiches and snack. Please do have some energy fuelled “healthy” snack, since Venice is damn expensive. Something you won´t care about if your preschool starts to sob and throw herself on the street, but your wallet will.
6. If you really get a huge need to sit down in one of the kitschy cafés on the canal – try to resist it. It is too hot, there are to many children beggars and even more tourists, so the pleasure might get spoiled. Turn into one of the perpendicular streets and find a lovely hidden gem, even if only to sip a quick cappuccino. Kids can get an apple juice from the store. They won´t sit peacefully in the café anyway.
7. You´ll need to make a break every 30-45min, so plan your walking routs accordingly.
8. Locate hidden squares where Venice kids are playing after school. Yes, even in Venice there are kids that go to school – a fact one tends to oversee blinded with cheap bling bling for tourists. One such insider gem is just next to the Hotel La Residenza, so now you know. It´s like a Venetian Kollwitzplatz – plenty of children running around and two ice kiosk, one on each diagonal corner.
9. Avoid going back to Lido between 5-6pm, the ferries are full, it´s the rush hour.
10. Get an iPad, iPhone or your old iPod and a dual headphone jack splitter. Plug the kids in at the end of the day – they will enjoy relaxing to some music…
11. Leave the best for the end, sip another coffee on the dock, enjoy the sundown, and, if not alone, treat yourself with a sundowner. If you are lucky enough, all will be sleeping on the ride back home…