Monday, June 07, 2010

How To Travel (Alone) With Kids


Unless you have to.

Like only if you are being chased by knife wielding members of  the Taliban and your only means of escape is to load up your three (under the age of 6) children and set off on a 7+ hour road trip with them across three states.


Trust me.

But if you choose to ignore my sage advice, and are determined, here are a few tips.  From one who has done it and lives to tell of it.

~Have a co-pilot

Mine was a wooden spoon (fork actually that I've never seen much use for in the kitchen but found great use on small bottoms when needed) with a smiley face on one side and a most unhappy face on the other.  Mr. Spoon sat shotgun with me from Georgia to Alabama and on several occasions turned his unhappy face towards my brood in the back who had to quickly make Mr. Spoon happy unless they wanted to visit with him.  Up close and personal.   If you know what I mean.

It works, y'all.  It works.

~Give everyone a cup of water, a pillow and a small snack

And announce that you will be unable to meet any further needs until you stop.  You cannot change out movies.   Pick up dropped toys.  Search for lost pacis (don't judge me).  Or refill drinks and snacks.  So don't ask.

Unless you want to talk to the spoon.

~Be Prepared

I have a market basket that I pack with all the essentials and tote it back and forth from house to van on a daily basis.  For road trips it's stocked with pull-ups, wipes, band-aids, a wet wash cloth, baking soda (a wet wash cloth + baking soda will take puke smell  out of me), extra zip-loc bags (to separate anything into three's that needs to separated, i.e. ONE cookie/chicken nugget/piece of gum...also known as forced sharing), a couple of plastic grocery bags,  a bottle of water and, of course.... Mr. Spoon.

~The Radio Will Play Louder than Screaming, Whining and Crying

No explanation needed.

A personal caveat:  I left with the kids on our road trip on a morning that dear husband was already out of town on business.  That means I alone (in addition to normal duty!) packed everyone, loaded the van (including the psycho dog), tidied house, dropped said psycho dog off at kennel and traveled with the kids all day from Georgia, to Florida, to Alabama.  In Alabama 9 days later, repeated the process (sans psycho dog) to travel 5 hours to Florida to meet dear husband halfway in Florida for a beach vacation.

Upon returning home to Georgia, dear husband informed me that he stripped the sheets from our bed before he left and I'd find them in the dryer.  After a long day of traveling, and eagerly anticipating sleeping in my own bed for the first time in two weeks, I was somewhat dismayed to discover not clean, fresh sheets in dryer, but rather smelly, mildewed and damp sheets that didn't manage to dry on their own over the FIVE days they sat there!

What the....

So I walked up to dear, sweet husband who clearly meant well and sweetly said, "You know, dear, sheets dry much better when you TURN THE THING ON!!!!"

To which he responded that he meant to.  He really did.

And I do believe he did.  And we actually laughed about it.

But the best part of this story is when he said (with a smile on his face), " just don't understand.  It's hard to get ready to go on vacation when you're all alone. I didn't have anyone here reminding what all had to be done before I left!!!"

Blank stare.  Crickets.

I'm still trying to figure that one out.

Bless his heart, y'all.  He was all alone.

I can't imagine.


Emily said...

I am still laughing. I think I will print this out and use it a check list for my next trip with my five. I haven't ever made the 900+ mile trip home without my husband since my third was a baby, and I don't plan to anytime soon, but many of your suggestions would be helpful for trips to the zoo and amusement parks.

As for the laundry, my husband almost never does it, but when he does something ALWAYS gets ruined.

Andrea said...

I feel ya! My husband was out of town for a couple of days at the end of May for work, was home for 10 hours (the 10 that the kids sleep, no less), and then went on a golf trip for 4 days. All the while I am at home with our 2 kids - ages 2 and 10 months (one of whom had an ear infection and was running a fever of 102+). In the 10 hours he was home, he managed to do 1 load of laundry. Thank God it was his clothes since he also washed and dried a black ink pen. The inside of my NEW dryer looks like we got the Jackson Pollock Maytag edition dryer!

They really just don't have a clue sometimes!

Thanks for the baking soda tip --- we've got a trip to the beach coming up and my daughter always seems to throw up in the state of Alabama (seriously!)

Mary Abigail said...

Awesome tips Julie! My mom had a wooden spoon, but without the faces on it. We got 0 chances to make things right! :) I got my almost 3 year old an ipod touch and it is AMAZING!!! I wasn't sure she could work it, but she can. Just need to get her better headphones. Stopping 10 times in a 3 hour trip to put those darn ear buds back in just isn't cutting it.