Traveling with Toddlers

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Not even 10 miles from our house it started….

“ARE WE THERE YET?”

I honestly have never heard this question from my kids before. My parents live about 30 minutes away, it takes us about that long to get to town as well and never have I heard that question until now. Maybe it’s because I warned my 4-year-old that we were going to go on a trip and it will take longer than usual but when we get there we will have fun fun fun. I think me preparing my child for “the long part” worked against me. It aided in him chiming in way too early and way too often about how long this was going to take. The question wasn’t always exactly the same but they all had the same goal in mind…. getting there and fast.

“Are we there yet?”

“Are we close?”

“Are we here?”

“Is it getting closer?”

“Is it almost here?”

I’m sure there were other variations but these were the ones I heard the most. Now I know my last post was about missing even the worst days and because of that new insight I kept reminding my husband that one day it will just be me and him in the car and it will be dreadfully quite and we will probably, most likely, maybe miss this day. He gave me an unlikely look to match my own uncertainty. Now this was only a 3 hour trip but the longest we have ever driven with all three children… 4, 2 and 2 months. At several points they were all screaming at the same time. Those were not so fun either but as we pulled into our destination we sighed in relief and the entire car erupted in joy because yes, in fact we had made it and we were there! The day was awesome and I have pictures to prove it. Train Cafes, Crayola Store, Toy Stores and a movie. I wasn’t going to add in the doctor’s appointment we had for my daughter, which is the only reason we took the trip but even that was fun for them. They played games and watched TV in the office. They were transfixed. The doctor’s appointment for my 2-year-old was better than the car ride. Hmmm something doesn’t add up. Fortunately she has an amazing eye doctor that did an amazing job on her eyes but that’s a story for another post.

So day is done…. oh no… the drive home….

I was actually thinking the drive home would be better. It was getting late, they’d had no naps so maybe some snoozing and some fast food and we would be in the clear. I don’t know what happened and where my children got all their energy for that ride home but it turned into a circus or that really terrible daycare room on Toy Story 3 that even the toys themselves want to avoid. There were straws spraying water, toys hitting us in the head, screaming and arguing toddlers that just wouldn’t give into each other and then the little feet kicking the driver in the back of his seat. Now my husband is a very patient man, especially with the children but after about the 20th time of him telling our oldest to stop kicking his seat and still not getting any relief, he pressed his entire body back and as soon as he does this we hear a very sad sound from the back.

“Mommy, daddy just kicked me in my feet!”

Our 4-year-old couldn’t believe that he would be treated this way after all that he’s done for us this trip. Hubs and I tried to hide our laughter at this very grown up 4 year old complaint. How dare daddy cause a little pressure from his seat to be felt by our sons very important feet.

So as the night wore on we stopped at a beloved Wendy’s… yummy(I have a thing for a particular salad there) and while the hubs went in and ordered we stayed in the truck and I fed the baby. Now I might add that we had to borrow my parents extended cab truck for this trip because the a/c in our SUV inconveniently went out the day before and I can’t even imagine adding a hot car to my children’s unhappiness. So while sitting in the Wendy’s parking lot, which was packed by the way, the a/c suddenly turned lukewarm and as I breastfed my 2 month old the sweat started to gleam endlessly on my face. The children’s wails rose to an unprecedented volume and I began to panic. I was certain that the a/c was going out and that the 100 degree feeling temp outside was going to kill us all. About 15 minute’s later and when I was just about to faint not only by the heat but the very high-pitched back seat the hubs finally came out with bags of Wendy’s food and a look that told me he may have just aged about 15 years in that Wendy’s, his face fell even further when he opened the door. It was smoking hot and no Apple Pecan Salad was gonna make me or anyone else in that truck happy. He put the food down and started to move all the bags that I had stacked up in front of the dashboard so that I could maneuver the baby out of his seat in the back and up front with me. Like a sudden change in the wind I felt the cool on my face. Apparently in my attempt to nourish one child I had hit a button on the dash that made the rest of us nearly miss a bout of heat exhaustion. After the button was pushed and the little green light lit up indicating that we were no longing getting outside air we thanked the Lord, stuffed our faces and headed towards home.

The rest of the trip – about an hour went a little better, not great but at that point I wasn’t about to start complaining. And about 20 miles from our house the backseat was filled with steady sleeping breaths. As we pulled into our driveway and came to our final stop of the day we both glanced to the back and then gave each other a sweet smile… Little Miss had her head back, arms flung out beside her in defeat and the cutest drool running down her chin. Little Sir’s head hung down and the smallest of snores rumbled from his nose. And as for our Littlest, I couldn’t see him but his silence was good enough. We carried them inside and laid them down, placing the smallest sweep of a kiss on each of their foreheads. As we fell on the couch to embrace the quiet and the familiar of our home we both closed our eyes and sighed. I whispered, “Well that was a pretty good trip.” and my husband agreed and now we are planning a trip to Walt Disney World.

This is when you say, “WHAT?”

Ummm, I’m not quite sure how we did it but it seems that we want to do it again and even longer this time. It must be like being pregnant, you forget all the bad stuff, the swelling, the endless aches and pains and don’t get me started on the actual labor, you forget it all or maybe store it away under bittersweet because, while getting to the destination was a trial, what happened when you got there is where the memories will be kept and the road there will just be a funny/horrific story to tell someday. Well that’s what happened to us. So traveling with toddlers…. even as I write this I’m thinking, “oh it wasn’t that bad”. I guess to sum it up… the traveling itself is best to be left off the tales of your travels (too soon for us to joke about it, too soon.) One day we will enjoy the laughs and the memories of those travels, one day.

Happy Traveling.

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