Michelle Kennedy is the founder of Peanut -an app that shows you likeminded mamas near you and makes it easy to meet up. Here's her essential guide to traveling with kids.
I have explained to others that Peanut is Tinder for Mom friends - which is potentially not how you would talk about it I'm sure? I once managed to sign up to "Thrinder" where you make friends with Moms but also the dad's ; ) hahaha! (For those not of a dubious nature Thrinder is an app for threesomes.)
Ah me, not much to tell! I grew up in Peterborough, Irish mom, Scottish Dad, very Celtic (hence the freckles). I'm an only child, used to be a lawyer, moved into tech, never looked back! OH YES, Tinder for moms, hmmm, difficult one! I would describe Peanut as a way to connect with like minded women who happen to be moms (i.e. this is just about cool women, who are moms too)...
Is there a Peanut option for stay at home dads? Can anyone Peanut?
Peanut is only for women ATM.
What are the warning signals to you of a "bad Mom" friend I have seen a few friends come out of Mommy groups fearing for their lives having had every aspect of their parenting ripped apart?
TBH if there are warning signals, I don't know, but we get so little of that on Peanut. It's very supportive and nonjudgemental, which I love.
Do you have advice for holidaying with other families and keeping your kids within your own set of rules without conflict?
I've only holidayed with very close friends and Fin, and the tip is: 1. Make it a mix of parents and non-parents (the non-parents will love to have a turn at babysitting, you get a break, and it means the entire chat isn't about children) and 2. Don't spend every day together, a bit of family time is really important, and that way you don't have to get tired of each other. 3. I am super strict, so the "but Sam is allowed" doesn't wash with me (poor Fin!!)
1. Tell me how you select a hotel to stay in with kids? What are 4 MUST haves that the hotel should provide and why?
-Warm swimming pools
-No set times on restaurants (ie. restrictions on when you can eat) (If you get somewhere which has unlimited food for kids, so much the better!)
-If possible a separate room or room divider for Fin (otherwise he wants to know why I am not going to sleep at the same time as him!)
-Outside space in the sun (for the times when you have younger ones, they are napping, and you don't want to sit in the hotel room for 2hours).
2. What do you personally obsess over when looking at hotels - I thought we could do hair dryers lol?
Hahaha, the hairdryers STRESS ME OUT. I obsess over the little perks. Sad but true. I want to know if there is a cool bar that you can only access if you're staying at the hotel, or if they have a crazy good spa, or even if they just have great toiletries (yes, I am that shallow). Depending on where I'm going, I also obsess over the furnishings (like, it has to feel like a treat, otherwise, I could stay in an air bnb right?). Also, barefoot luxury when I'm away (I mean, there is always time in my life for heels, but on a beach holiday running around after Fin is not one of them)...
3. Are there 4 things you recommend to pack yourself to survive life in a hotel room with small people?
Sticker books. They can go wild sticking them (just make sure you get the ones which can be removed-otherwise you will have an expensive bill).
Snacks. Sometimes you just don't want to spend $25 on a cookie and glass of milk. Bring lots of snacks
Earplugs. They make a surprising amount of noise when they sleep, and you end up freaking out every few minutes
Surprise toys. Cheap ones. But I always hide them, and put them on Fin's bed throughout the trip for a surprise, even if it's just something silly for the pool, or a new book to read over breakfast.
4. Any other tips and recommendations? The weirder or more honest the better
OK, I always take 2 suitcases when traveling with Fin. That way, I take one suitcase home with everything that's dirty, and one with shoes and everything which wasn't used. Means when I get home, I can just dump the 'dirty' suitcase downstairs for laundry, and I know what I have to take back upstairs to unpack.
I travel with a travel steamer (seriously, you don't care about shoving your stuff in a smaller bag if you know you can steam it the other side and look amazing).
Obvious ones, stuff your shoes with your underwear, saves space, stops your shoes from getting ruined.
I am a weird compartmentaliser, so I pack in outfits in order. So I know the first thing I unpack is what I am going to wear as my first outfit (bit OCD but essential for business travel)
Do NOT rely on hotel hairdryers, you just don't know if they will let you down (they usually will).
5. What's your favorite hotel?
Zighy Bay, Six Senses in Oman. Fin loves it there, and I have amazing memories of being there with him and my husband. Turks and Caicos Aman comes a close second.