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Road Trip Rage

My husband and I are getting ready to take our kids to his parent’s house for the first time since Owen was born. Naturally, I’m stressing. Never in my life have I traveled in a car with three small children for four straight hours, but I’m certain that I will not survive. Don’t get me wrong. I know it’s doable. I know that traveling for a lot of parents is fun and carefree. Unfortunately, I’m just not that mom. I have to give myself a pep talk before taking all three children to the playground by myself let alone trying to drive four hours with all of them in the car. Call me crazy, but traveling is just not for me – unless I’m heading to the Bahamas sans babies. 

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I was on the phone with my mom this morning, who was attempting to lessen my stress.  

“Throw a few changes of clothes for each kid in a bag. Done.” She said.

 Now, I’m not sure if my mom as simply forgotten what it’s like to have a brood of small people or if this is actually how she survived parenting four kids. Throw a few changes of clothes in bag? Are you kidding me? I’ve got four lists of about 600 items for each person that absolutely must be packed. I’ve got kids with medications, kids who need four million small toys to keep them entertained, kids who have attachments to blankets and teddy bears and binkis. I’ve got kids who go through “a few changes of clothes” EVERY DAY. We need swim suits and floaties and sunscreen and bug spray. I need a cooler with the prescription-only-milk-free-formula, the almond milk, the 2% milk, the snacks, the lunches, the juice boxes, the back-up snacks… AND the barf bags for my motion sick kids who will probably puke up half the shit I pack for them to eat in the car. That reminds me: don’t forget the Dramamine.

 And besides packing the clothing, toys, and food, I’ve got about a truckload full of baby gear to shove in my trunk. Now that I have two babies under two, I need to bring TWO pack and plays. I have to figure out a way to get a double stroller that’s the size of a small state into my minivan along with the 45 suitcases of shit mentioned above. We don’t have an overhead carrier for the car at this point, but I am just strongly considering strapping myself up, solely to avoid having to deal with my kids for the entire trip.

That’s the thing – the packing is only the beginning of the hardest part of traveling. Actually making the trip in one piece without killing each other is the second part of this hellish, so-called “vacation.” My husband doesn’t understand my hatred for traveling with the kids in the car either, since while I’m climbing back and forth from the front to the back, filling juice cups and replaying movies, he’s busy driving. Just driving along. For fuck’s sake, I’ll take battling with the big rigs and a little bit of rush hour traffic if it means I don’t have to climb into the back of the van 47 times.

Now, I’ll admit that at least we have the iPad and a few new movies to help get us through. Seriously though, I had to laugh when a woman in the car next to me at the grocery store recently commented on how lucky my generation is that our children have iPads and other electronics to keep them busy in the car. Ensue huge eyeroll, both for the unsolicited comments and your judgey tone of voice. Thanks lady, but you also parented during the stone ages, when you could probably hold your baby and breastfeed in the backseat while your husband was driving. You weren’t required by law to strap your kids into hot, uncomfortable car seats until they were 12 years old. I’m sure my kids wouldn’t need to be hypnotized by iPad if they could crawl around the backseats as they pleased. And don’t jump to conclusions here, lady, because listening to Moana play on repeat four times in the car during a road trip isn’t exactly fun for everyone.

So, with two days until go time, my husband and I have officially begun “laying out the clothes” and so on. I know once we get there, we’ll have a blast and it will be totally worth the 36 hours of preparation it requires to take three children on vacation.

But for real, if you don’t see a post from me in the next week or two, just assume I’ve surrendered at some point during the trip and tossed myself out the moon roof of my minivan.

 

My Summer “Vacation”

“Oh, all you teachers. Must be nice to have the summer off every year.”

Yup, the three best things about teaching are June, July, August. Amirite? I’m just over here laying in the sun, sipping summer cocktails, enjoying some peace and quiet. Awesome, yes?

Unfortunately, I have no idea if that’s awesome because I’m home with three small children this summer.

Don’t get me wrong. I love having this extra time with my children, but hanging with three kids under five is not a vacation. So far in the two days I’ve been home this week, I’ve cooked and cleaned up six meals, prepared 45 snacks, washed about 40 bottles, wiped three different butts, watched YouTube videos of kids playing with toys, helped my kids MAKE YouTube videos of themselves playing with toys, and cleaned up dog puke twice. In just two tiny days, I’ve had one child fall off a bike and scrape his face, got soaked at soccer practice because I forgot the umbrella, and chased an escaping toddler halfway down the street. Sweet, relaxing vaca, right?

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In the past two days, I’ve taken three kids to three different doctor’s appointments, including the psychologist for my five year old and the feeding therapist for the baby (Yes, feeding therapy is actually a thing). Today I took my two year old to the pediatrician since he was up half the night screaming. Thankfully, it turns out he’s not sick, he’s just an asshole , um, a toddler.

Even as I attempt to type this, there is a baby spitting up butternut squash all over his play mat and a five year old who just announced that he “needs to go poop real bad,” so I better finish this shit up before he needs me to wipe his ass.

When I had only one child, summer was slightly easier. I made sure to plan trips to the zoo, play dates, picnics, and science projects. Last summer, I smartened up and signed up to teach summer school, which was really a decent balance between work and time at home with the kids. This year, since Owen was born, I decided to enjoy some time at home with all three children. They are only little once, right?

The teacher in me still wants to attempt the art projects and fun summer events, but doing anything with three kids is pretty much a total shit show the majority of the time. So far this summer, the only place I’ve taken all three in public is the pediatrician (which is an entirely separate post on its own). I’d consider taking them to the library, but I’m afraid I’d be arrested for the amount of money I owe in overdue fees. So last week, out of desperation, I piled them into the car without any plan in place as far as where we were going. I took them to the gas station where I bought them crappy fidget spinners, drove them through the car wash, and then ran through the McDonald’s drive thru for Happy Meals on our way home. Compared to a day at the children’s museum, I was feeling like this little trip out was pretty pathetic, but to my surprise, they were totally pumped. Who knew that a $7 ride through the car wash could be so exhilarating?

All jokes aside and despite the challenges, I’m obviously so happy for this extra time with my kids. I’m thankful that my boys are spending their summer at home, swimming with friends, eating popsicles, riding bikes, and running through sprinklers. Despite the fun, and for the sake of everyone’s sanity, I’m thinking that next year, it’s time to sign them up for a few weeks of summer camp.

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