Traveling with children . . . Well, I'd say it's much like the saying, "Can't live with 'em; can't live without 'em". Traveling when you have children is something, we, as parents want to do. We want to share our love of travel, family, and places with our children. We march into planning as though it'll be all cupcakes and rainbows. Truth is, the rainbow will never show, causing massive meltdowns, and the cupcakes you bought for a good finish to the day will go untouched by children who do not need/ nor have earned such a treat.
My husband and I don't get to travel often. Like most of the working world, we are limited in the amount of vacation time we have, and are even more limited on funds for such trips. We do however, try to have fun little trips as often as we can, and we do bring our children. We camp when we can (when I can muster the energy to move our house to our trailer and prepare for close quarters where nobody gets any sleep). We travel to Oregon (a state away) where my family is, so we can visit and create memories. And when we are lucky we have big trips. Those coveted trips where you take an airplane to a magical place where those rainbows and cupcakes are all supposed to fall into perfect harmony with your family's expectations.
One thing I haven't done is travel with the kids alone, when my husband cannot come along. The thought of such an endeavor seems terrifying . . . exhausting . . . challenging . . . lonely without any alone time. I never traveled alone when we just had J, or when it was J and A. So why, with three now, do I find myself on a road trip without my husband?
Long story short, I was blessed with 5 grandmothers. My dad had a mom and step-mom (both who have sadly already passed away), my mom has a mom and step-mom, and my step-mom has a mom. That equals five grandmothers, and a very lucky grandchild. Unfortunately one of my grandmothers is in the last chapter of her life (my mom's step-mom), so I needed to go see her, and take my three beautiful children so she could see them too. Turns out, we also had a family reunion of sorts scheduled with my mom's family and my Grammie (my mom's mom) same weekend. Family called, and we answered!
Honestly, I don't know how others do it. Those who have lost their partner, separated, or have always been single parents, have so much courage and strength! And those who do have a partner, but must travel with their kids alone, are also impressively strong and capable.
I don't think I am one of these capable parents. But, when you need to be someplace, and your husband is kicking butt and making money to support your family, you go. And you try to find the humor in the adventure later.
The four day trip was jam packed with emotions and signs of upheaval. I'd love to say it was all smooth sailing. That everything fell into place as planned. But I'd be lying. Things were perfect; for about 20 minutes.
i made potty, lunch and nursing break arrangements by utilizing my sister-in-law's hospitality. Of course, J had to "poop" about 20 minutes after we left the house. He could "wait" for a bit, but then "couldn't wait". So we got to a place where I felt comfortable enough getting everyone out of the car and into a bathroom. Never mind A and B had both just fallen asleep. What can I say? The boy likes to say poop; but he did not actually have to poop. Four month old B did have to though, and had a blow out when we got back to the car, all over me and my seat . . .
Our trip down took all day. Thankfully my sister was at our first night's stop, greeting us with dinner and a fresh face for the kids to see. Sisters are these amazing beings that can alter our brain chemistry and give us a calm amongst stress, simply by giving us an understanding look. And oh man, I needed it!
The next three days were jam packed with agenda items. Visit Grandma and try to add some fun and a meal or two into the day for the kids. Get settled at our vacation rental. FaceTime Daddy, because everyone missed him and many tears fell wanting to see him. Try to let the kids re-stabilize themselves Saturday, and make a day just for them. Yay!!! for Uncle Matty! Then back in the car the next day to go to our next event, the family reunion.
There was little rest, and even less sleep. The kids stayed up until 10pm every night. That's three hours past their normal bedtime! I was lucky enough to get a small portion of the bed J did not need. All were restless and uncomfortable, and baby B wanted to nurse every couple hours.
Food was a completely different story. First, tight budget over here! So we packed supplies and bought minimally what we needed. I chose to enter into a restart program with whole foods and no sugar before knowing about this trip, so I challenged us even more with my specific food needs.
My mom, a great help, was with us for three of the days. But she was out of her normal because she recently had knee surgery and was limited.
Who goes to the coast with kids and doesn't take them to the beach? Me! My mom couldn't navigate the sand with her full leg brace and crutch. There was absolutely no way I could manage three children on the beach on my own. My kids would no doubt run in opposite directions! So I tortured them by taking them to a look out where we could admire the surf and sand.
The drive home was more challenging than the drive down. It went from a 5 hour drive to a 7 hour drive with all the stops we had to make. But it was well worth it for the goal of being home. I wanted to be home so bad! To see my husband, and let the kids slip back into their routines.
But, for those of you who have ever traveled with young children, you know it didn't end when we got home. You see, after young children travel it takes them a while to get back into their normal routines. Everything is the end of the world! They missed Daddy so much, but now they refused to listen to him. They throw fits. They yell and scream at each other, and at us. Oh boy!
So will I ever travel with the kids alone again? You bet I will! I am a teacher with summers off. We must make the most out of it, even if my hubby cannot always come along. But you better believe I have a renewed love and appreciation for all he does! (The house was so clean when we got home!)
If you are wondering whether you can travel with your kiddos; of course you can! Just prepare yourself well, and know, everything that can go wrong likely will. But aren't the best memories made outside of best laid plans?