Can You Enjoy Conference If You Have Young Children?
One of the highlights of the Rotary year is the district conference. I particularly like the
opportunity to visit the sea, so am looking forward to Portsmouth in 2019.But what about if you have young children? Is attending a district conference possible? Of course it is!
My husband and I are both Rotarians and we went to the Cheltenham conference in 2018 with our then 9 month old daughter. It was a different experience to previous conferences, but we enjoyed our weekend away and our daughter enjoyed crawling around some new places.She is already a regular attendee at my club’s Rotary meetings, along with a number of other members’ young children. I suspect our club is unique in having club babygro available to buy!
If you are thinking of taking your young family to conference, here are a few tips.
- Be realistic
If you’ve been to conference before, you’ll know it can be a busy weekend of socializing and attending sessions. If you’ve got a young child with you, you will have to take it a bit easier and won’t get to do everything. But you can still be part of the weekend, chat to Rotarians from all over district and hear some interesting speakers.
As we’re both Rotarians, we were both interested in attending the plenary sessions. We generally took turns at doing this, while the other amused our daughter or took her for awalk so she could nap in her pram. We did manage to attend a couple of sessions together, and our daughter even fell asleep during one of the speakers! We chose not to go to the gala dinner this time, and had an early dinner in our hotel as a family.
- Book early
If you book early, you’ll have a better choice of hotels. This means you can look for one within walking distance, with room service, with babysitting facilities, with a child-friendly swimming pool – whatever would make your conference weekend easier. If you’re in the same hotel as the rest of your club, you can still join them for pre-dinner (or post-dinner) drinks.
- Identify a quiet place in or near the venue
Conference is full of people and noise, which can be overwhelming for a young baby or child, even if they’re fascinated by what’s going on around them. If you’ve identified a nice quiet spot, you can go there when they need to calm down, and if they’re really young they may even nap there.
- Research the local area before you go.
We will be travelling with a lively and curious 21 month old in March 2019, so we know that soft play areas and playgrounds will be needed. Thanks to my Facebook friends, I’ve already been recommended a couple of soft play areas (Pirate Pete’s at Southsea Pier and a large centre at The Pyramids) and I’m told there is a playground near the conference venue.
Nina Lenton is a member of Maidenhead Bridge Rotary