Friday, August 28, 2009

Vacation? Uh, no.

I find it pretty humorous that we are referring to last week's trip as a "vacation". The dictionary defines vacation as "A period of time devoted to pleasure, rest, or relaxation...".

Uh, no.

Let's see. Getting up at 5:30am every morning, walking your baby to sleep every night by pacing the only quiet room in the house (the bathroom with the lights off and the exhaust fan running) and picking up the pieces when your sleep deprived toddler has another meltdown. Nope, not resting, not relaxing or the least bit pleasurable.

Although there were some epically bad moments, we still managed to have a great time and make it home in one piece. Here are a few things that I think helped me survive our first big trip with our high spirited little Peanut.

1. Reasonable expectations. I really wasn't expecting to sleep in until 9:00 or even 8:00 every morning. I knew we were traveling across a time zone and that I'd probably have an early riser. I also wasn't expecting that she'd drift blissfully off to sleep at 8pm every night and sleep solidly through the night. I had hoped that might happen, but I wasn't betting on it. I also knew that when we went on family trips to amusement parks, restaurants and other public places, there was a good chance I wouldn't be participating in all the activities. I packed my sling every time we left the house and there were many times I had to whip it out, pop Peanut in and find a quiet place to rock and soothe her. But I was expecting that. So I didn't resent it or feel like I was missing out.

2. Planning ahead. There were some days that I over-packed my bag for day trips, but no one can ever say that I wasn't prepared. I had snacks, juice, changes of clothes, toys, pacifier, blanket, diapers, wipes, bibs, hat, sunscreen, bug spray and of course, my trusty sling. I didn't end up needing those things every time we went out, but I was ready just in case! I also kept careful track of her naps. I knew what time to expect her to start whining and melting down and tried to make sure we'd be in a place where I could get her down for a nap. It didn't always work out, but I did make the effort.

3. Eating wisely. This is one area that I think we can definitely improve on the next time we take a trip. Peanut was not a good eater on this trip. The few healthy meals that I took pains to prepare her were left largely untouched and then I'd catch her snacking off her uncle's plate an hour later. I did limit (but not eliminate) her sugar intake and did my best to make sure the only liquids she had were juice, water or milk. She still managed to come down with an ear infection and I can't help but wonder if I'd made more of an effort in the food department, her little immune system would have been more equipped to handle the infection.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that we were traveling with my amazing in-laws and my brother-in-law and his girlfriend. Each one of them was a huge help with Peanut and they even babysat one night so Justin and I could go out to celebrate our anniversary. They are seriously awesome.

So, was our trip fun? You bet! Restful? Not one bit! But we had a great time, made lots of memories and I can't wait until our next Missouri visit.

I'd love to hear your tips for traveling with children. What are your must-have items or fail-proof tips?

1 comment:

  1. These are my tips for traveling with a baby, based on an experience traveling with our then-5-month-old about a month ago. We flew across the country. I originally posted about this on diaperswappers, and have a few posts about our trip on my blog as well.

    -Bring your baby carrier/sling/ERGO. Our baby naps in it a lot so it was a easy way to get her to sleep in the airport or on the plane. They did ask us to hold dd in arms when we passed through the metal detector, you can't even have an extra sweater around your waist so I'd think they would want the ERGO off too, which bring me to my next tip
    -We never normally use a stroller but found it was helpful in the airport because we were carrying so many bags. The airlines just check them for you at the gate for no fee! So, I would actually recommend it.
    -I liked sitting by the window because it was more private for nursing
    -The shorter flights were better because she wouldn't sleep for the whole time, and even with a toy would get bored sitting in one place for 5 hours. The only crying we had the whole trip was on the longest plane ride (5+ hours) so I would actually recommend having a layover rather than doing nonstop, which was a surprise for me.
    -slip on shoes for going through security
    -a small blanket is good for sitting on the floor in the airport, and for easily warming up if it's cold on the plane
    -next time I would use flushable liners with our cloth diapers, just for the trip, due to the mess/stink of poo in your carry-on
    -bring an empty water bottle for yourself, to fill once you get past security
    -wear clothes that you're TOTALLY comfortable nursing in public in, because it feels different when you're in a new place, to me
    -ask for a bag to wrap your carseat in when you check it. It is free to check a carseat, and the bag protects it from getting banged up in transit. We just had our dd as a lap baby, she wouldn't have been happy in the car seat on the plane anyway
    -I was surprised to see lots of other people flying with babies, so just try to be confident that the airlines are used to babies on board and will know what to do. Some planes have a changing table on board, so ask the flight attendant where they would prefer for you to do the change if you have to on the flight. We tried to change right before we got on, to hopefully make it to the next airport without changing.