Traveling with small children is no small feet. I was once told that it required “Pentagon Style Training”. True fact. You can make a list the length of a toilet paper role. YOU WILL STILL FORGET SOMETHING! But it is not impossible. I swear the big stressor is all the damn advice that you get from anyone that hears you are taking the kids somewhere. Personally, after the first small trip that was just several hours away and getting “advice” was enough for me to stop telling people at all.
So since I hated people giving me advice, I won’t give you advice, just a list of things that worked well for me. Pick and choose what you like or breeze on by!
- Aim for a list but be real. Start with the important stuff. The sucky blankets, the breast milk, etc. Anything else that you forget you can most likely buy. Find out what they have where you are going as traveling with kids is hard enough so the less you have to pack the better!
- Get real. And this is where I will get a shit tonne of slack. Travel smart. Stressed out kids and parents is not fun. If you know that you have a kid, or kids that do not travel well, what is wrong with giving them a dose of Gravol before driving. The only harm is if you are giving it to a child too young, which of course makes you a crappy parent. Most young children will not tell you why they are miserable until that moment when that light bulb shines brightly over your head and you go “shit, here comes the barf!”. Who has not gotten car sick! Kids are excited to go to a new place but are hoping for a time machine. Keep in mind that they can’t see the horizon either which helps us not feel sick to our stomachs.
- Our parents will tell you that we were lucky to have coloring books and crayons and we were fine. Bull shit. They forget that we didn’t have to wear 5 point harnessed seats that don’t let a kid move much and that we were allowed to climb around the car and if you were that really cool family, you got to sit back wards and spend hours flipping the bird or making fun of the person behind you. Sure, now our kids have tv’s and laptops-which might work–for OLDER kids. For the younger ones, your lucky, and I mean lucky to get them to agree on 1 movie and watch it the whole time. So if you have to, recline the seats. Start the car in the middle of the night, and put them in while the car in comfy and warm. Bring a change of clothes for when you get to your destination so that you can change them to stop to eat-or better yet, DRIVE-Thru! We have lived off coffee for months or years now, isn’t a peaceful ride worth it! Or have one of you sleep and switch of when you get there.
- Plane travel. Now this is an even bigger pain in the ass then car travel, especially if you have to deal with border crossing so you are 2 hours ahead of the actual departure time. If your kid is a bit older. Practice plan travel. As dumb as this sounds, we set up chairs to look like a few rows and did practice sessions. We explained the take off and turbulence. If they know what to expect, there are more likely to not be freaked. If you are a shitty flyer-take your meds but put a smile on your face and go for an Emmy. If they are too young for that one, take a page from the people that have to fly regularly with kids in the North. They commonly medicated the kids! Again-if they are of age! And no this does not mean give them 5 different kinds-don’t be an asshole parent. Believe it or not, doctors have kids too and will tell you what you can give.
Most importantly! If you do get unsolicited advice. Be nice once, as in “Thank you, I will think about it”. Second time they try pull the “stinky diaper, I am late, it’s nap time” whatever you can and walk away. Unless this person provides free babysitting, don’t feel bad wasting your time to listen to 30 minutes of crap you know is crap!
I see mom’s going at each other on message boards with clear opinions that there is a right and a wrong answer to this. I don’t get it myself. Both can provide great learning lessons for your kids, just differently. But they sure as hell can send the same message if you are a crappy parent.
If you are a stay at home mom that has an ass groove on the couch-your a crappy parenting. If you are a working mom that is the first to drop the kids off at opening and last to pick up (and not because of financial hardship)-your a crappy parent.
And here I go with yet another list. I really should start call them “how to not be an asshole lists”. I used to think that common sense wasn’t needed for parenting–apparently not so much!
If you are a working mom:
- If you run into a mother who is covered in peanut butter and her hair is a mess and she is wearing shorts in the winter–don’t chirp to the other well dressed mom’s about the way she looks. You don’t know the what happened that morning and I bet if there was a surprise visit to you on the weekend, you aren’t all modelling material.
- Do not commit to activities on the PTA that you know you will be unable to do and pass it off at the last minute. It doesn’t impress anyone. (PTA is a whole other blog!)
- Yes you maybe in a hurry to get to work, however that doesn’t mean you get to cut people off in the parking lot.
If you are a stay at home mom:
- Don’t assume that well dressed mom you run into at school spent 2 hours getting ready. I am guessing she has only shaved the parts that you can see, that dry shampoo is her friend, and she has to double check in the mirror after speed dressing just before leaving that she matches and that she doesn’t have peanut butter on her either!
- That working moms don’t care about their kids as much as you. Maybe they didn’t have a choice to not work, or maybe they want to send a message that you can have a career and a family-they just balance it out differently.
- Although you may not be on a strict morning clock to check in, that doesn’t mean that you get to hold up the teacher for trivial things. Please be mindful that we all get a turn and if you have the option of talking at a different time and see an upset parent waiting patiently that you know needs to go to work, please be courteous- I am sure that parent will be over the moon grateful to you!
The best advice I ever got, “If you aren’t holding your head in your hands crying in the first month or two, thinking that this might not have been the best decision you ever made, than you aren’t doing it right!”. I never full understood this until that moment.
I knew hard. I had kids resuscitated, been told the might die or loose their bowels at 6 days old. I learned how to startle one if they had a “Brady” (fancy term for a slow heart beat). One who couldn’t hold food down and held the other while he had a central line put into his leg. Did I mention that I almost bit the dust after giving birth and had an emergency C-section and started to learn to care for them less than 20 hours later?was ready to get out of the hospital and care for them on my own. I had this parenting thing down….until that damn moment.
I can’t say the exact day that shit hit the fan. But I will always remember the phone call to that same dear friend. I was bawling my eyes out on the phone in the bath tub telling her that I was a horrible mother and that my children should be taken away from me(This is when you know you have a keeper of a friend). She casually asked me where the kids were (always a good idea to do the safety check that someone hadn’t really lost their shit!). My kids where fine and with my husband. Me, I was a totally F#%king mess! I needed to put the kids on formula. Making formula while sleep deprived might as well had been he equivalent to asking me to decipher hieroglyphics. I was so tired that I failed to notice that they have pre-made formula! So after a nice soak, and lot’s of reassurance, life went on.
It is normal to freak out. Kids don’t have manuals. You make mistakes. Own them!
Here are my rants for the first year:
- The breast vs. formula debate. My opinion-Personal Choice! If you are a responsible parent, you have already read all the material on it. The reality is that sometimes you can’t breast feed and some people choose not too. As long as you are not diluting the formula because you had kids for a pay cheque-IT’S NOT MY BUSINESS!
- Paper diaper vs. cloth. I did cloth diapers. It was easy. BUT it was MY CHOICE. As long as you truly do not believe that a 12 hour diaper means leave your child in it for 12 hours because you are too lazy, or don’t care to change them-It’s not my business!
- Soothers-Yup I did the soother (pacifier) thing. One liked it, the other didn’t. I weaned the one that did when she was ready. As long as you are not a cheap ass parent who uses dollar store ones and allows the kids to keep it while it is cracked and unsafe, or until they are 4-It’s not my business!
- A messy house. And by messy I mean filthy! There is no excuse why you can not clean, and cook and care for your children. I have seen some nasty homes that I wouldn’t allow my cat in, let alone a kid. We all have days that go wrong, but seriously, if you have a bottle of formula that is growing bacteria in it, get off your ass and clean your house!
- Baby food. I made all of my own baby food except for when we travelled. It takes no time at all and you do not have to be a chef to do it. To this day I hear that I was a super mom. Not true. After we got through the testing for allergies stage, it’s pretty simple to blend your meals and if you want, add your own heat (pepper) later. So if you are the parent that buys baby food-stop bitching about the price and posting pictures on Face Book about mildew in food pouches and blend the food.
- Why do people buy strollers if they are too lazy to take their kids out? In some countries, children are bundled up and left outside for fresh air in the winter. Fresh air is good for children and for you. Take your fancy stroller, that was probably bought at for you at your shower, and USE IT!
- If you are lucky and have a lot of support. DO NOT tell parents who do not, how important date night is! Or how important a week away is to help your marriage. Good for you that you have that support, but truly most people don’t or choose to be with their kids. THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK!
- The crib. A crib is for sleeping. It is not a device to contain your child because you don’t want to be a parent!
- Television and technology. I had the T.V. on for background noise. It is NOT a babysitter! Not saying we all haven’t been sick or had a bad day and let them watch it for longer than normal, but seriously-if your kid sits in front of it all day long you need to ask yourself WHY?!
Ughhh, that feels so much better. I am sure I am going to make a lot of friends!