We went on an adventure! (and how we survived)
We went on vacation recently (yay!)
We packed up our two kids into our mini-van and drove from Calgary to Penticton. Google map says it's 7 hrs and 58 minutes from our house, and it took us about 9.
Not too shabby, right?
Sure, sure. Except when your toddler's road trip maximum is 6 hours...
Needless to say, I learned a lot!
This was the first big trip we took as a family of 4 and so it was somewhat unchartered territory for us.
Here are a few things I learned!
Go overboard and on the child entertainment preparation.
Yes, you read that right.
When someone isn't happy, a new book or new-to-them toy is a quick way to turn tears into a curious smile!
The dollar store has a big variety of kids books, stickers, mess-free marker book and more.
Some of my favorites are:
Mess-free marker and coloring pad
Laminated books that use dry erase markers
Pipe cleaners! (older kiddos of course)
Window sticky stickers
Kinder surprises (It's the ultimate bribe!)
The other place I really like is going to second hand/consignment stores!
They have a big selection of toys for a fraction of the price and so you're not so upset if it accidentally fell out of the car somewhere along the way.
If you have a DVD player in your car, second-hand stores and consignment shops have lots of kids movies and shows for a couple of bucks (score!!)
Here's my youngest, Bryn, who fell asleep holding her favorite crackers!
If I had to pick between waking up at 4:50 am or arriving at my destination at 7 pm, I would pick the early morning every time.
The adults got up before 5 am, and the whole family was packed and on the road by 6 am.
We eventually arrived in the afternoon and it allowed for us to have some downtime, eat dinner, and get our sleeping arrangements figured out.
On our way back home we left at 9 am and arrived at 8 pm Calgary time, and yea, that wasn't as much fun.
Have low expectations.
I know, I know.
Nobody wants to hear that.
If you travelled before kids you probably had a big list of things you wanted to do on your getaway, plus every meal would go as planned and the weather would cooperate, right?
With kids, having fewer scheduled activities, more buffer times between your planned activities and leaving time for naps makes for a much better experience.
One of our adventures was longer than anticipated, so Bryn had a stroller nap that day!
Expect that night 1 will probably be terrible.
Ideally, we would want our children to unwind nicely, accept that this strange place is now where they will sleep, and sleep all night uninterrupted.
But in reality, if they haven't slept anywhere else over the last year + (which is the case for my second daughter), sleeping in a totally different room was a no-go.
We worked at having a calming routine, unwinding time, adding in a bath and books and a snack.
But it still didn't go well.
She struggled to sleep in a room that she didn't know the dimensions and the shadows were different than at home.
She didn't want me to leave the room and ended up staying up really late (boo!).
Expect that each night will probably get a little better.
Night 2 was much better!
Even though she went to bed later than expected, it was much better for everyone.
During the rest of the trip, she went to bed late, but this was also because everyone was napping for 1-2+ hours each day (Hey, mama needs a nap too!) and so it was near impossible to get her to bed by 730 pm.
Things that helped: Bringing books from home, doing our home routine on vacation, giving ourselves more time to do the bedtime routine, and an extra dose of patience!
Returning home: it takes a few days
Once your getaway is over, and you've finally made your way back home to your bed (best feeling ever, right?), just know it's probably going to take a few days to get back into the swing of things.
Don't wait, get back into your home routine asap.
It's going to take a few days regardless, but you might as well help yourself out and do the bedtime routine as before, aim for a reasonable bedtime, add in extra unwinding time and know that it will come!
If you were away and there was a time difference, it will probably take your baby several days to get used to home time again.
I have found that one hour is not a big deal, but 2 or more takes extra time!
In the end, driving for several hours with two young kids took a lot of preparation. We brought lots of snacks, new-to-us toys, movies and activities and planned some stops along the way.
By lowering my expectations and not hoping that everything will be perfect, I was able to enjoy the trip so much more. We stopped, smelled the flowers, drank our coffee hot and had a lovely time!
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This was at Giant Cedars Boardwalk and it was such a nice little walk!