Leonie Zündorf was never really afraid. While surfing, she blithely threw herself into every wave, no matter how big, the main thing being fun, the main thing being exhausting. Then came Emil.
"When Emil was born, I suddenly wondered if anything could happen to me," says the 26-year-old. After all surfing is not a safe sport, broken bones are not rare. "It was not just about myself anymore. There was a little creature waiting for me who needed me."
Even before his birth Leonie Zündorf and her husband Nico traveled a lot - mostly after the waves. When she got pregnant, they asked themselves: is this over now? Are such camping trips with baby still going on?
15 picturesParental leave: With baby for surfing
"Of course a lot is changing and you have to downshift a gear," says Zündorf. "But that's just part of it and it's nice too." At first she wanted to be with her child without interruption. But then she saw how well Emil felt with his father, and she learned to relax. "Every baby can spend two hours without breastfeeding and without the mother," says Zürndorf.
She did not want to give up surfing. Soon it was clear: For the parental leave, it should go to the sea - with the three-month Emil and the surfboard.
For two months, the couple was on the road with the Bulli, "so that Emil has a familiar place, even when traveling, that is his home," says Zündorf, who studies health science and sports in Munich as a teacher. The T4 drove Papa Nico alone to Moliets on France's Atlantic coast. Mother and child flew after it, because it is bad for the backs of little babies to lie so long in the infant carrier.
Past with a couple vacation
Parents should be aware that a holiday with a baby is different than a couple's holiday: "A baby has the same needs on holiday as at home, does not let the parents sleep in and wants to be recorded," says the child psychologist Eva. Verena Wendt from the German Youth Institute. "Mothers and fathers should therefore first realistic ideas about how the holiday will be."
Nevertheless, Wendt says: "Mastering a longer journey together welds together and creates great memories."
Leonie and Nico Zündorf also quickly realized that their holiday with Emil would be different than before: Just live in the day? Not really. Emil wanted to be breastfed on a regular basis, restaurant visits were virtually impossible with the baby, who also whined in the evening. Instead, the couple cooked themselves on the gas stove and took turns walking with Emil in the sling when the other was in the water. "I have the feeling that Emil felt very well," says Zündorf. "He was calmer and more balanced than at home and he slept better."
Leonie and Niko Zündorf
Vanlife: Niko and Leonie Zündorf with little Emil on the coast in Galicia
During the parental leave to travel, is the trend. When else do working parents have time together to discover the world? There is nothing more obvious than to spend the free weeks together, to make a living as a family, to spend the first few months with the child as intensively as possible - and at the same time to go on vacation.
"For a trip with a baby, the financial side speaks for many parents: The parents can also take the parental allowance for a few months at a time and thus both finance a joint break," says psychologist Wendt. But not every baby is a journey so easily possible. For sensitive children about a constant daily routine in the usual environment is often the better choice. "And some parents realize after birth that traveling with a baby is just too stressful, and that's fine," says Wendt.
Do fathers experience only the good things?
And there is also criticism of the travel parental leave: Especially fathers would pick out the raisins and handle the sometimes tiring everyday life alone with the child at home, it says (Listen to a series of "Three Fathers - a podcast" on parental leave ).
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Since Leonie Zündorf was still studying when Emil was born, and the family was dependent on the income of the man, she took a leave semester. For the next child, she wants her husband to be off work for a while and take parental leave. "If we have a second child, in addition to traveling, we'll consider whether Nico will stay home with the children for a few months," she says. "Everybody takes over the different roles, so I think that makes for more understanding and empathy in the partnership."
On holiday, the two took off with the child care, so everyone had time for themselves. The grandparents came for two weeks and watched from time to time on Emil. For nine days, the family even camped wild in the Basque Country. "It was fantastic," says Zündorf. You just have to make sure that there is always fresh water, for washing and showering.
Leonie and Niko Zündorf
Cuddling time: Papa Nico and Emil lie in the hammock
"We made a conscious decision to travel only in Europe," says Zündorf. "Outside of Europe, that would have been too blatant with a newborn baby, just because of the medical care." Fortunately, Emil did not get sick, but you never know.
The psychologist Wendt recommends to consult with the pediatrician prior to such a trip to clarify the medical care and any vaccinations. And then there are some "developmental steps and challenges" in which one has to think carefully about what the child needs - for example, when starting the complementary food or when the range of motion of the child increases.
"Particularly important and supportive of the baby is the sensitivity of the parents to their baby, so that it is not overwhelmed," she says. "If the baby whines, cries, or turns away, it's a sign that it's just too much." The parents should take care then and provide peace. That's why you have to think in advance about the nature of the trip.
"Sometimes a guilty conscience"
Emil is now two years old and the family still travels a lot, mainly for surfing. "Now it is sometimes more difficult, because he quickly gets used to a place and often meets other children," says Zündorf. "Sometimes I have a bad conscience if we have to continue."
Leonie and Niko Zündorf
Leonie Zündorf and her husband Nico with child: Holiday with baby is different
Will Emil become a surfer himself? "That would be nice," says Zündorf. "We do not want to push him to anything." In the last vacation, he was riding in white water on the front of the board. He always shouted: "drive big wave very fast! Nochmaaal!"