I have really fond memories of traveling as a child. So much so that I knew that I wanted to carry that tradition on with my kids. Most of the time, we fly but we recently road tripped to New Orleans and (shocker) packing looked a little different this time around.
Parents, this one is for you– especially if you have never road tripped with your toddler before. Travel is less fun if you aren’t prepared and we don’t want that.
1.Create Multiple Music Playlists in Advance
One playlist is great if you are flying and your child can put on some head phones and is happy listening to the same 10 Disney songs over and over and over and …you get the idea. Let’s be real, they will probably be happy to listen to their ONE favorite Moana or Frozen song on repeat for the entire trip. On a road trip, it’s a little different. I think that everyone being involved in the trip is important in making great travel memories; that means, no headphones…no isolating yourself during the ride.
Making more than one playlist will keep everyone satisfied–no one will get worn out by ‘Let it Go’ playing on repeat and you can even squeeze in the edited versions of your favorite “adult” songs. Me and my kids listen to the edited version of Beyonce or Chance the Rapper albums–win, win.
2. Dry Snacks ONLY
Please do not make the mistake of packing things like yogurt cups or pizza lunchables. Think of the long term goal of not having to stop to change clothes after a spill or having to seriously clean your car once you arrive. Pretzels, apple slices, grapes…..those are the kinds of snacks that have minimal clean up repercussions.
3. Quiet Games
Both of my kids have ipads; I promised myself that I wouldn’t be that parent but that was before I actually was a parent and….screw that. I don’t know what I was thinking. But that’s besides the point. On road trips, it’s nice to avoid them. No one wants to listen to bouncy noices or magic wand sound effects or train horns all day while your kid taps away at their screen.
Instead, I pack no-mess markers and mini-coloring pads…the kinds made especially for travel or restaurant dining. They work wonders. Your kid’s favorite teddy or doll is also a plus. It can even be really entertaining to hear your kids have full conversations with their toys. Makenzie basically chastises her kids , threatens them with time outs and then reminds them that she loves them…she is basically me. LOL
4. Avoid Drinks When Possible
Yes, it is important to stay hydrated but let’s be honest: no one wants to deal with a toddler-sized bladder on 12 oz of water. GEEZ-US. It is the worst and completely kills your travel timeline, having to stop every hour for a potty break. I stop the drinks an hour before we take off on the road, make everyone use the bathroom before we leave the house/hotel and then avoid anything more than a sip of water after food while on the road.
5. Enjoy the Unexpected.
Give yourself a break. Remember that you’re on vacation. This is hard for me at times because I am a Type-A personality. I like structure and timelines and goals and ultra-planning. I have to remind myself to relax. Allow yourself to check out the cool hipster shop that you see when you pull over for food or to stretch. Take the time to set up your tripod and take a full family photo in front of the colorfully painted house or the random, life-size statue of a bronze chicken (I’ve never seen one but a girl can dream). The point is, on road trips, you will find things that you weren’t expecting. Enjoy them. Make the memories. Take the picture. Embrace it. Your kids will love you for it and you will appreciate it, too. I promise.
Being a working mom is no joke. Being a stay at home mom is no joke either.
I’ve done both; I’ve loved and hated both at different points in time.
I had just been accepted into a Master’s program at TAMU when I found out that I was pregnant with RJ. Not the best timing, sure, but I’m not one to give up on my goals just because some unexpected things happen. I transferred to the online program and moved home to take advantage of in-network insurance coverage under my parent’s insurance (thanks mom and Obama!).
Once RJ was born I moved to Houston with my husband. Since I was studying for my Master’s degree, I became a SAHM and focused on RJ and getting that degree. (Minus the time that I took a two-week temp job with the NBA because, well, it was the NBA!)
Being a SAHM mom is hard enough but add a master’s degree program to that? I spent many a nights holding an infant in one hand and typing a paper with the other. Can you imagine how long it takes to type out 10 pages with one index finger?! It’s not fun; or quick!
I had Makenzie about 18 months later and it took me four years to finish my degree. But I did! Anyways…
I started working when my degree program required an internship out of me. Makenzie was 1 and RJ was 2. That internship turned into part time work. So, there I was, part-time marketing associate for the Houston Rockets, full-time mommy to an infant and toddler and still pursuing my degree.
I went full-time career and officially moved out of the SAHM life. It was hard for me. A large part of that came from the fact that Makenzie was so independent. It seemed like the separation was harder for me than it was for her. I would take my lunch breaks and go peak into her classroom’s window at the daycare just to see her. I was a wreck. RJ was different; he gave just enough hesitation when walking into his classroom. He hugged me just long enough to make me feel like he was going to miss me a lot while I was gone. Somehow, that helped me through the day. Makenzie wouldn’t even wave goodbye to me. lol.
And that was my life: drop-offs, work, pick-ups. And then I quit! I talked about it a couple of weeks back here.
Fast froward to present day and I am back on the SAHM scene….with Toddlers. Good-ness. They both have great vocabularies (which means they have A LOT to say), they both can walk now (and run and jump), they both have different tastes in music and tv shows and food!
The point is, it’s different this time around. They need me in a completely different way at 3 and 4 than they did at 1 and 2. Not any more or less and not in a simpler or more difficult way. Just different. I didn’t fall right back into place like I never left like I assumed I would. There is definitely a learning curb. But I’m enjoying it. I wonder if other parents have gone through things like this and what their experiences are/were?
All I know is that I’m re-learning this role. It’s quite a journey.
Until next time,