What with it being Bank Holiday yesterday, we decided to go to one of Vienna’s many museums. We chose the Technisches Museum (in other words, the Technical Museum). When you are travelling with a small child, you may not get to see all the cultural delights a city has to offer. Here are my top 10 tips to consider if you are thinking about taking a young child to a museum:
- Choose the museum carefully. There has to be some sort of bait. When we went to the Natural History Museum, it was the dinosaurs. At the Technical Museum, it was the “big, big, slide and a children’s play area”.
- Avoid distractions en route. Under no circumstances should you allow your child to spot an extensive playground with a range of intricate climbing frames. If you do, your trip to the museum will be finished before it has even started. If you can think up a fun game that involves blindfolds or closing your eyes for long periods of time, now is the time to go for it. If you succeed in actually getting your child to the museum after spotting such a distraction, rest assured, his heart will remain at that playground and he will be sure to let you know it.
- Don’t go to museums that are expensive. You will not be staying there very long. An hour is realistic and that’s taking into account stopping for a drink. An hour and a half is ambitious.
- If there is anything you particularly want to see, forget it. The agenda will not be in your control. If you have a particular interest in the museum you are planning on going to, get a babysitter.
- Take a large bag full of snacks. In the hour we were at the Technical Museum, Noah consumed a Goodies oat bar, two Humzingers, cheese dippers, a Babybell, a quarter of a ham sandwich, some carrot sticks and a chunk of watermelon.
- You need to accept that there will be three stages that your child’s mind will pass through: enthusiasm (when you tell him you are going to a museum in an excited tone and wave the bait under his nose), reluctance (when he realises it means leaving the cars he has lined up in military fashion along his bedroom rug), rejection (pretty much the moment you step into the museum).
- Your child is unlikely to learn anything. Museums are cultural. Museums have amazing things inside them. Museums are educational. Not for 3 year olds.
- Remember, all your child really wants to be doing is either:
- Watching Youtube
- Watching television
- In a playground
Have some sympathy for him.
- You will need more bait to get him home, especially if you are travelling by public transport. You got him all the way there, you got him to be semi-engaged for an hour, he will want to leave, but he will not want to walk anywhere. Noah was promised a cake. My husband took him into the bakery to choose any one he wanted. I gave the bakery a wide berth as I am doing the 21 Day Fix and have not been fixed yet (in other words, I am on a diet). Noah chose a cake with layers of thin pastry and fresh cream between each layer. If you are letting your 3 year old choose a cake, it is advisable to supervise them yourself. Noah doesn’t eat cream. Doesn’t my husband know that? How many times has he heard me order an ice cream for Noah in a restaurant, expressly asking for no cream? How many times has he seen me spooning the cream off the top of Noah’s ice cream, muttering the whole time about how I’d asked for NO CREAM? He ended up sharing his cake with Noah…
Sorry for the outburst. My husband is a wonderful father who usually has a good understanding of Noah’s likes and dislikes. I just really wanted a cake too!
- This hour in the museum will exhaust you. By the time you get in, you will need a glass of wine. If you are on a diet, you will settle for a cup of tea. It would be nice if you could put your feet up for a while, maybe read a book or have a little snooze. But no. A small and adorable little person is asking you politely if you will play hide and seek with him.
Ok, my Noah, you hide and when I’ve counted to a hundred, I’ll come and find you.
“Mummy,” Noah said, wearily, as he sat on his potty, “I’m feeling fragile today. I don’t want to go to nursery.”
I should have known then that we should stay at home watching Toy Story all day rather than venture out to sample the cultural delights of Vienna. Even the screaming fit Noah had when I left him at kindergarten didn’t deter me. It was a beautiful afternoon, perfect park weather, but I had booked Noah a place at Zoom Ocean in the Kindermuseum and that was where we were going to go.
Zoom Ocean is an ocean themed soft play area for 0-6 year olds. It’s great. The children climb under a chiffony blue giant scarf and enter the ocean. On the first floor, there are lots of sea creatures and a watery tunnel. Up the slope on the next level, there is a ship you can steer or you can go below deck or climb into a submarine. There are also lots of costumes for the children to dress up in. Noah favours the sea urchin.
The session is an hour long. At first, Noah was into it. He enjoyed rolling himself down the slope, climbing through the tunnel and hooking fish on to a fishing rod. Forty minutes later, he was tired, he was hungry and he was lying on the floor wanting to go home.
It’s the getting home bit that’s always the problem. It was the first proper summery day in Vienna today. When we left the museum, the first battle I had was the sun cream battle. I managed to smother him in it but he wasn’t happy at all. In fact, he was wailing. He wouldn’t get on his scooter. He wouldn’t move at all.
Two people walked past licking ginormous ice-creams.
“Noah, do you want an ice-cream?”
“Yeeees,” he sobbed.
“Get on your scooter, then, and we’ll go and get one.”
“Noooo,” he sobbed.
“Do you want an ice-cream?”
“Get on your scooter, then.”
Somebody shoot me.
I eventually manoeuvred him on to the main road. Every other person seemed to have an ice-cream so I followed the ice-cream trail. I towed Noah on his scooter. Most of the pavement had been blocked off because of road works. It was busy. Impatient people behind me tutted when they couldn’t get past. Impatient people coming towards me, knocked into me or, worse, Noah. Suddenly, walking in the opposite direction to the u-bahn to find an ice-cream seemed like a bloody stupid idea. But still, we found the eis café. Noah, now happy, pressed his nose against the glass and selected a wildly inappropriate flavour of ice cream (tiramisu). I ordered him strawberry. I would have liked to have an ice-cream myself but I am on day two of Slimming World. My Slimming World contains too much wine to accommodate ice-cream as well.
I sat Noah down at one of the tables in front of the café. The sun beat down on us and Noah didn’t like it, so I hovered over him, sheltering him with my shadow. At last, he was smiling. I breathed a sigh of relief. And then I realised the ice-cream wasn’t moving backwards and forwards to his mouth any more. I peered under his baseball cap and discovered he had fallen asleep, head propped on his hand.
I woke him up and he howled. He thrust the rest of his ice-cream at me and told me to put it in the bin. There was no bin in sight. I attempted to get him to follow me to the nearest bin. He stood up and stretched his arms up to me. “There’s no way I can carry you,” I said. He stood on the pavement and bellowed. I carried the following things on my person – my handbag stuffed with snacks, cardigans and spare clothes for Noah, Noah’s scooter, his toy monkey and his ice cream. He started to scream. He was tired. He was emosh. I picked him up. The ice-cream went all over my white top.
I staggered to the bin. Then I staggered back down the narrow pavement where I was involved in a head on collision with three people wheeling bikes. Noah was now fast asleep in my arms. I staggered to the nearest station, which was not the station that would take me home. I dropped the monkey; it was returned. I staggered on to the tube and off the tube. Outside the station, I faced a number of steep stone steps which led to the bus stop. I made it half way up the steps before I dropped the monkey again. Then I dropped the scooter. I set Noah down on his feet and told him, for the twentieth time, he needed to wake up. He lay himself down on the stone steps and went back to sleep. I retrieved the monkey, the scooter and my son and headed up the steps once more. There were three people lounging on these steps. Would it have killed one of them to offer to carry the scooter for me? Or, if that was too much trouble, they could at least have carried the monkey.
Noah is in the 98th percentile for height and weight. If I had known I’d be carrying him half way across Vienna today, I wouldn’t have bothered doing my Thirty Day Shred dvd this morning. My hand still aches from clutching the scooter. My shins are bruised from where the scooter bashed them every time I took a step.
I made it on the bus, off the bus, across the park to our front door. I made it into the lift and up to our apartment where I laid Noah down on the sofa. His eyes snapped open. He sat up and looked around. “Can I watch Toy Story and have a plate snack, please?” he asked.
My Noah, at least we didn’t lose the monkey.
After four months of avoiding his new scooter at all costs, Noah has recently made his peace with it. Now confident he can steer it without flipping himself over the handlebars, he wants to take it everywhere. At first, watching with my heart in my mouth as he veered dangerously close to the road, I ran along beside him as he scooted. Obviously, due to lack of fitness and general lack of energy since I became a mother, this could not be sustained. I now settle for shouting “STOP!” when he is more than ten metres in front of me. Without fail, when he hears this command, he wobbles to a stop, leaps off the side and shouts, “Did you say stop?” back at whoever is responsible for him at the time.
So our family trip to the National History Museum started with Noah zooming ahead of us, red bobble on his bobble hat bobbing in the distance. Outside the museum, there is a grassy forecourt with a large green stone statue in the middle. As there are no roads and therefore cars on this forecourt, Noah was allowed to scoot towards the statue without the limitation of our stop command. He flew straight past a group of tourists from Japan who were admiring the architecture and ploughed headfirst into the grassy bank encircling the statue. He then picked himself up without a murmur, fished his scooter out of the gravel and turned towards us to see where we had got to. The tourists were highly amused. “Very tough!” one of them said as we approached. Yes, Noah is very tough. When it suits him.
He was fed up of the museum sooner than we hoped. In fact, he had had enough after the dinosaur room which was the first room we visited. By the time we were in the third room he was sliding across the floor on his tummy, regardless of the feet which had to step over or around him.
“Get up Noah.”
“No. I’m a whale.”
“Get up, please, Noah.”
“I’m a whale.”
“Noah, will you please get up off the floor? You are getting in everyone’s way and the floor is dirty!”
“I’m a whale.”
He refused to get up for quite some time.
We stopped for refreshment in the museum café after hurrying around the first floor. Still grumpy, Noah sat on my lap. I saw him pulling his glass of apple juice towards me in slow motion. It tipped forward into both our laps, just like so many glasses of apple juice have done in the past. It was a full glass; we were both saturated. Noah’s trousers were removed. His socks and shoes had already been removed as soon as he sat down because that’s what all three year olds do as soon as they sit in a restaurant. Don’t they? My husband took the trousers to the bathroom and set the hand dryer on them whilst Noah sat happily at the table, watching Jake and the Neverland Pirates on my mobile and playing with his willy.
He really wasn’t interested in looking at anything else, but seeing as we had paid 10 euros to get in, we were determined to at least stride through the upstairs rooms. His attention could momentarily be directed to the elephants, the giraffes and the Big Brown Bear, but he mostly wanted to sit on the floor and refuse to move, bite my leg, punch the handbag of an innocent bystander and run through the corridors.
On leaving the museum, his mood lifted as he was promised a cake by his grandmother. He declared he would get “a big, big cake right up to the ceiling”. He chose a little yellow iced fondant decorated like an Easter chick.
Happy Easter Monday, my Noah.