I just got back from a fantastic mini get away with husband and the kiddos. Like, I literally got off the plane, fed my kids, gave them baths, packed lunches for tomorrow, caught up on work email and sat down to write this post. While pondering the last five days spent together with my family, I feel like we really turned a parenting corner this trip – I actually thoroughly and completely enjoyed my time away with my family. I have written extensively about traveling with my little munchkins and have spent the last five years trying to figure out how to “do” vacation with kids. I never thought it could get easier and more enjoyable. But it has. If I could go back in time and tell myself as a first time mom what it would be like, not to stress out over traveling, this is what I would say:
Yay you have a new baby girl! You are an awesome mom and are about to embark on your first trip with your little one. You are scared that she will lick the arm rest on the plane or cry her head off on the long flight. Rest assured, these things will happen, but it will be ok.
A few years from now you will add a funny but crazy little boy to bring along in your travels. They will be double trouble, but will bring so much more to the adventure.
Anyway, here are some tips to help you on your way…
Just drink on the plane already! You will be nursing for the next few years but there will come a day when the littlest is almost weaned and you can sneak in a cocktail while on the plane and feel giddiness, not guilt. You will not shrivel with dehydration or fall asleep on the plane and wake up in Harrisburg instead of Hartford. There will come a time when you will suck that cheap wine fast, and feel great. Enough to take the edge off.
Tiny airplane/airport bathrooms are not as bad as you think. You don’t have to wear plastic gloves or overdose on the hand sanitizer when bringing your kid to the potty, because you will one day come to view germs as “strengthening their immune systems.” Also, the key is taking your child early on in the flight before it gets too danky.
There will come a day when your daughter grows up and will not need 7000 activities to keep her occupied on the flight. She will be perfectly content watching the movie with her little headphones and snacks. And just let her choose the crap food as her snack and enjoy the silence.
Do not make your life more difficult than it already is. Ignore husband when he suggests parking in the faraway long-term lot to save a few bucks. Park as close to the terminal as you possibly can. Remind him that a happy wife, who does not have to schlep two kids, luggage, and a stroller on and off an airport shuttle leads to a happy life.
Your kids will start playing together and they will be hilarious to watch. It will give you at least 5 minutes to sip your coffee in peace with husband.
Be adventurous. Never say no to riding on a camel at the zoo with your daughter. She will never forget that 2 minute journey for as long as she lives. Neither will you.
Husband will become a very efficient (and adorable) travel partner.
You will not get much sleep, at least until the kids are teenagers. They will constantly be on the move and drive you bananas, but you will get used to it. And the older they get, the more fun they will be. You will begin to believe all those kind strangers you meet in your journeys who tell you to enjoy this time in your life, that it is the best and will go by so quickly.
Try not to be too much of a party pooper. If your kid begs you to go swimming at 7 am, let her. Besides, you can send husband on this mission. Remind him that you carried two children, underwent two c-sections, and nursed his offspring. He can go for a swim in a heated pool in 60 degree weather 🙂
Pack plenty of vitamins, for you, not so much the kids. You will be the one to get sick on most trips. There will be the time you accidentally drink the water in Mexico, and you will get what seems like the plague in Ireland. Just keep popping the probiotic and vitamin C like it’s your job. (And scotch will also kill any bacteria too, or so I’m told).
Time spent with family will bring you closer together. Take vacations and staycations as often as you can.
So here’s to many more safe family vacations. May they just keep getting better and better.