My love for road trips began when my folks took my brother and I to copper mines and old growth forests, waterfalls and caves, sand dunes and the S.S. Badger. We didn't often travel far, but made the most of beautiful northern Michigan and the few long road trips we did go on. In high school I was privileged to broaden my horizons by going to Hawaii with my family and Washington D.C. with my classmates and teachers. My first international venture was at the age of twenty when I went on a 5 1/2 week missions trip to Scotland, where we stayed in a castle (yes, really!) During college there were many road trips with friends; and after college, I traveled to Hong Kong (while it was still in the hands of the British...I first fell in love with the people of HK back then), China, England, Greece, and Paris. When newly married, Michael and I lived near Baltimore Maryland and loved taking in the historic sites in the area. After he died, I was determined that my "single mom" status wasn't going to prevent travel. I took my first huge road trip with the kids when The Philosopher was six and Little Pud was three. And by huge, I mean nearly three thousand miles. It was a wonderful adventure! Since that time, we have taken many road trips, some large and some small. And of course we have taken two special trips to Hong Kong to add to our family.
Super-T has been a pretty good traveler since he came home, joining us on our first big road trip after being home for six months. He has his quirks, but over all is pretty good about it. Unfortunately he has very few things he actually enjoys doing, but fortunately riding in the car is one of them and swimming is another, so if we can get a hotel with a pool after a long drive, we are golden.
|Super-T hanging out in front of The Philosopher's tent.|
I have been eager to see how Baby Girl would do on a road trip. She has two attributes that could make travel difficult: she is completely tube-fed and she is a TODDLER. We took our first little "test" road trip this weekend to The Philosopher's Civil War reenactment, and I learned that my sweet and spunky girl is a fabulous traveler! We drove less than three hours away, so if it was horrible, we could get home relatively quickly, but there was no need. The tube-feeding went off without a hitch (just took a bit of planning ahead since I am feeding her a diet of blenderized food rather than formula) and even the toddlerness wasn't much of an issue. Best of all, Baby Girl had fun, slept great, and LOVED the water just as much as Super-T.
|BRRR!!! It was a COLD weekend! So cold they canceled the final day.|
Although I was very pleased with the success of our little endeavor, I did learn a few things.
Here are my top five lessons learned:
1. When you are a single mom of four kids, getting everyone ready will take you a full hour longer than you think it will (even when two of the four kids are excellent helpers and the other two are not terrible anti-helpers.) This proved true both going and coming and getting to an event on Saturday.
2. Five people need a LOT of stuff, even for just two nights (especially when one of said people is a toddler tubie and another is a Civil War reenactor who doesn't believe in leaving his civilian clothes behind). Corollary to #2 is that five people make a lot of laundry in a weekend.
3. Electronics are your friend, especially when used strategically rather than indiscriminately. I am so thankful that my mom suggested that I bring my laptop so Super-T and Baby Girl could watch their The Wiggles DVD (a mutual favorite). They only watched it once each day, but it bought me precious minutes each time. And I doubt if we could have made it happily through the weekend without Super-T's iPod for his music. It kept him content while we hung out in the car while I fed Baby Girl.
4. Get a suite. Seriously. With a door that closes. That way you can have a moment to yourself while the kids sleep in the other room. And everyone doesn't have to sneak around trying not to wake the baby in the morning. Bonus if your suite has a full kitchen (ours didn't this time).
5. I need to get in shape. After two days of carrying 25 pounds of toddler around for hours up and down hills and across fields during the day and then swimming with the kids in the evenings, I am sore. Thank goodness for my Ergo. No stroller could have gone where we did this weekend, Baby Girl had good bonding time, and there is no way I could have carried her in my arms all those hours. My back feels fine, but various muscles are really feeling it.
|The benefit of having the last day cancelled: The Philosopher got to stay with us and SWIM!|
Bonus lesson: A trip is not a vacation for mom. It is fun. It is educational. It makes memories. It builds family bonds. It is not a break. I plan to schedule some down time this week to get recharged. To me it is so worth it to make memories and learn in a fun and interesting way.