I used to love to travel. Flying, driving, walking, no matter the form of travel, the adventure was great. But now that I have two kids under the age of 5, I despise it. My friends and even my husband don’t always agree with me. It often seems that I’m the only one who would rather fork over the cash for a sitter while I go on a weekend getaway. Or skip it all together, because it’s just not fun with the kids.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for sharing experiences with my kids. I love how my parents took me on countless adventures as a kid. I am lucky to have visited so many places—historical, fun, foreign. We did it all. And I plan on doing the same for my kids, but only when they are older. I’m so sorry, Grandma. Sorry, friends. The kids aren’t coming with us this weekend, and here’s why:
It sounds easy enough, right? But if you’ve done this, you know what I’m talking about. The amount of stuff a kid needs to go out for the afternoon is already mind-blowing. So multiply that by 100, and you’re getting close to our packing list. There are lists for lists. Plan for weather, accidents, spills and activities. Then comes the debate of packing the favorite nighttime buddy and risking losing it or paying the consequence of not having Sparky for bedtime.
2. The Travel Day (Or Days)
No matter how you do it, it’s rough. The kids are wired and can’t wait for the trip, until you’re 15 minutes into it and they’re asking how many more minutes to go. An hour in, the snacks are gone, and just 20 minutes after that, they’ve exhausted the bag of activities you’ve brought along. The only thing left for the three remaining hours is candy and Benadryl. And when you all finally make it, you show up at your destination looking like you’ve done the Iron Man—twice.
Getting to the destination for my kids is comparable to what my reaction to winning the lottery would look like. Extreme excitement displayed in shrieks, jumping, running and a high likelihood of self injury. There’s no calming them down for hours, even though they have been up since 5 a.m. This is the ultimate in overtired.
Regardless of what I bring or what is graciously offered, this is still a dreaded time of the day. It’s not the right kind of noodle. The cheese looks funny. There’s something green in there. Or somehow, even worse, “I’m not hungry.” So, the battle commences. Noodles are cut up, the cheese sauce is stirred, and the green specks of parsley removed. But when it’s still not edible, additional food offerings come from purses and pockets. Stale Wheat Thins and gum make the pass. One meal down…
This is, by far, my most-dreaded part of a trip. I dream of the day the kids are old enough to sleep on the floor in their own cute little sleeping bags decorated with their favorite TV characters. But for now, my kids are used to the security of a bed, which is especially important to them when not at home, not to mention that I don’t want my 2-year-old roaming free in an unfamiliar place. If you’re lucky, you can get the kids into their own room. It’s ideal until a strange shadow or sound wakes one, and then both, up. The entire night is spent discussing what shadow is what and where each noise comes from. All this fun is reserved for me while the rest of the group is tossing back wine and heading to bed. It’s social-and-sleep-deprivation at its best.
Sure, it’s fun for the kids to see the family and play with long-distance friends, but that is only a fraction of the trip. The rest is up to me. The kids have a blast, but then they are beyond tired and hungry. Quite possibly, add constipated and sick to the list. It’s hard on the kids and even harder on me. My vacation is spent getting from one need to the next all while handling the ups, downs and discomforts that come up in between. The kids’ comfort and enjoyment is directly related to my exhaustion. So, in the meantime, I look forward to some adult travel and relaxation. Want to see the kids? Let’s plan a visit at our place. We’d love to have you and promise we’ll show you all the shadows in your room before bedtime.