It’s hard for me to believe, but I’ve now been a stay-at-home mom for one month. I can already feel our house becoming a home. It’s due to small things, really: clearing the clutter and reorganizing the kitchen and living room; cooking dinner and eating it as a family around the kitchen table; waking up and taking morning walks…. But of all, there is simply a peace about the house that had not been there. Before we constantly running from one “must do” to another and we had forgotten how to relax and simply enjoy the ups and get through the downs of being a family.
That said, between the trip to New Zealand, the Outer Banks, and now Vermont I have been on the road or traveling for 20 out of 31 days, but the lesson of simply relaxing and going with the flow applies even more when traveling with a 2 year old. Even now, I sit in a dark hotel room with ear plugs in as my two boys sleep next to me (one more soundly than the other). After a twelve hour car trip spread out over two days, I don’t think anyone would have blamed us for just staying in, ordering room service and watching the Olympics. But instead we decide to try going out and it ended up being a wonderful night!
We had an early and relaxed dinner in Burlington at this french-style bistro called Leunig’s (http://www.leunigsbistro.com/). I had the scallops, Pete had the burger and we were both blown away by our meals. Both Pete and I enjoyed two drinks and outstanding meals and Mick enjoyed taking a few trips to visit the teddy bear statue outside in between bites of his pasta. The window’s were open, the place was bustling, and our toddler was well behaved. Quite the feat after the road trip! We then all had a leisurely walk up to the flagship Ben and Jerry’s store where both Pete and Mick (yes, both of them) needed wet wipes to clean up at the end of their ice-cream cups. I could not be more proud of my little traveling, and most importantly relaxed, family.
Here are 10 quick tip’s I’ve learned along the way from traveling with a two year old:
1. Less is more. I am always tempted to bring the whole toy chest and book shelf “in case they want something”. They won’t want anything and odds are you’ll be getting them a new, fun little toy from the trip. That toy (no matter how stupid it is) will surpass any toy you could have brought from home. At least, until you return home.
2. Drink water in the car. Only water. It’s great for them, especially when traveling, and easy to clean up. And it will not result in any sippy cups that you just might as well toss rather than clean.
3. Bring both healthy snacks and snack that your kid loves (in our case fruit snacks). Then use them as bribery whenever needed. Tonight we had a wonderful dinner. This was not without a lot of talk about how to act in the restaurant beforehand and a chance to “earn” his favorite treat in between bites of pasta and trips to visit the teddy bear statue. Judge all you want, but we had a wonderful dinner.
4. If you wear disposable diapers, when traveling wear the nighttime diapers. Extra absorbancy is a good thing.
5. ALWAYS bring one more pair of clothes for your toddler than you think you will need. Otherwise you will end up flying to Boston with a naked and very stinky kiddo (I’ll save this story for another time). Trust me, bring one more than you think you will need.
6. Keep paper towels, Resolve, Ziplocks, Lysol, and a regular towel (to lay on any wet seats) in you car whenever you go on a road trip. If you do not have these, you will end up driving with the windows down in 40-degree weather thinking that the pine-tree scented air freshener you just bought from the gas station is the best thing you have ever smelled in your life. It is not. Bring the cleaning supplies.
7. Stop before you think you need to. This goes for bathroom breaks, meals, or sleeping. It keeps everyone happy.
8. Movies or ipads can be your best friend. In fact, you’ll find you stop thinking about “4 more hours to go” and start thinking in terms of “two and a half more Disney ‘Cars’ viewings to go”.
9. Even though things are going to be wonky, still do little things to keep them on a schedule and remind them of home. If you normally read a book before nap time, still read a book even if “nap time” is supposedly going to happen from the car seat.
10. See above – relax. You’re traveling with your toddler. Tantrums, dirty diapers, and messes will happen. Things are out of your control. If you just count on “responding” instead of “planning” you are automatically setting your trip up for success.