A family wedding, road trip to Tennessee, family visits, and good eats! Our visit home last month lasted three weeks, yet it still seemed to fly by. There never seems to be enough time in a day when we travel. I always have a list in my head of everything I want to do, but I usually leave out the everyday routine of waking, feeding, and dressing two kiddos who are completely out of their comfort zone. Naturally, I learned a few lessons from my experience.
- Traveling with kids who are no-longer-toddlers but not-quite-big-kids (5 and 3 years old) is not for the faint of heart. I’ve flown with my kids since they were infants, so I’m used to the hustle and bustle. However, as they grow, so does their independence, which adds to our travel time. For one thing, newly potty-trained kids are all the rave until they have to pee right before boarding; or even better, while laboring through the airport security checkpoint. I have never missed diapers more in my life. WHO AM I????….I’m a mom who thankfully packed pull-ups and told them to let’er rip. (This was only effective for doing number 1; they refused to do number 2, and who can blame these almost big kids!Just feels wrong to them. Also, toilet training regression may or may not have resulted with the little one). Also, little kids walk in figure eights. This is not productive when navigating through the airport. They’re too big to hold, and at times, too little or too tired to walk straight ahead with purpose. And they love the scenic route. (Strollers are a pain for me and them at this stage, so I didn’t bother to bring any.) Lastly, once you’re on the plane, after lift-off, and the pilot reminds everyone to keep seatbelts fastened until 10,000 feet or whatever, that’s my kids’ cue to have to potty again (Number 2, naturally). I have never been angrier at the lack of space airplane bathrooms. However, my sanity stayed intact…UNTIL…
- A 10 hour road trip with no-longer-toddlers not-quite-big-kids is not for any human alive. So, after being home for a couple of weeks, we drove to the mountains in Tennessee to surprise my brother for his birthday. My sis in law booked a beautiful cabin and we had a blast! BUT THE DRIVE. The bathroom stops. The FALSE ALARM bathroom stops! I know for next time to have a travel potty handy. Just kidding, I’m never ever taking a road trip with them again until they’re 21.
- Routine may be impossible to maintain while traveling, so a new, temporary one may be necessary. It may not work, but it’s necessary. If there are any moms out there whose kids will eat the same snacks on the road as they do at home, can you message me your secrets please?! In Tennessee, my two acted like they had never seen a granola bar in their lives. Their sleep trends were also off, but that’s to be expected with later bedtimes after activities and playing with cousins way past bedtime. Honestly though, that’s what vacations are for– and especially since we live away from family, I wasn’t too bothered by that. As far as diet, I definitely need to be more thoughtful about mixing up snack choices when our environment changes.
NOLA is home for me, but home for them is where I am.
The rest of the time spent at grandparents’ houses or auntie’s house were much more typical and enjoyable. I’ve learned that my kids need to be in one spot for most of a visit, as opposed to house hopping. I noticed an increase in meltdowns and tantrums this time around, and I attribute it to moving around too much. Although I want them to catch up with family, next time I will do a better a job of setting up shop in one area and letting everyone know where we are. When they were babies, their tolerance was higher; and really, what choice did they have? So now, even though they still went along with my plans, they’re older, more vocal, and more resistant. Their exhaustion and frustration manifested as heightened irritability and crying spells. At 5 and 3, it’s really not a mystery; but in the heat of those moments, I felt overwhelmed and stressed out.
The more I think about it, the more I see the underlying theme of motherhood/parenthood. No matter where I am, who I’m with, and what I’m doing, my kids’ needs will usually interfere with whatever I initially planned. I had the misconception of having a break from it all, by being able to leave them with grandparents or aunties and uncles to enjoy some quiet time without worrying about them. Although I was able to to do that on a few occasions, (and it felt heavenly to have support), my kids are still attached to me and want to be where I am. Perhaps it would be a different story if they could be around extended family more often. But this is our reality, and I plan on doing a better job of sticking to that on our next visit. NOLA is home for me, but home for them is where I am.
I was so happy to see them playing with their cousins, talking to their uncles and aunts, and getting in extra hugs with grandparents. I also observed how much more at ease they were seeing other kids who looked like them, and who did not do a double-take or act differently in their presence. The joy was unmistakable, and they cried to leave. I remember a time when they wouldn’t let anyone else hold them, and I couldn’t put them down for a second. They’ve made significant progress, and both are constantly asking why everyone can’t be at our house now. Visits may not always go as I imagined, but my kids definitely feel loved and connected to their NOLA family. If I get nothing else right with traveling, I’ll make sure that never changes.
UP NEXT: So my sister and niece flew back to New Mexico with us for a week! My next blog post will feature not two, but THREE kids to entertain in the airport for hours, because of course our initial flight out of New Orleans was cancelled, LOL! Don’t miss Part 2 of our Summer Travels, coming soon!
What are some of your tips/experiences traveling with littles? Comment below!
See pics below of some of our festivities!