As promised in my much belated vacation notice, I am going to share a few of the ups and downs experienced during Baby J and I's road trip to visit family in what everyone from the tri-state area refers to as simply "the cities" (Minneapolis/St. Paul = The Twin Cities).
Firstly, this post is brought you roughly 12 hours later than the original intended deadline thanks to an incredibly long day of attempting to re-right my house after a weekend away. More on that coming up...
So! First road trip! (Just Baby, Dubby, and I, Mr. J has to work on Sunday evenings, making it difficult for him to get away for a weekend trip.) I tried to plan everything carefully to make sure it would go as smoothly as possible. Some things worked, others not so much.
Tidy entire house before leaving, hoping to have a clean, relaxing place to return to.
This was an amazing idea in theory. There is nothing more exhausting than returning from a long weekend away, especially one including a lot of driving, to find your house a disaster that you can't relax in. In practice, this would have been much more successful if the entire family was going on the vacation. Mr. J did his best to clean up after himself, but dishes and laundry (my nemesi!) needed to be done, of course, and all the counters needed to be cleaned off and wiped down and the floors all needed to be swept and mopped. (I don't know if it's just my husband, or if all men are oblivious to the existence of crumbs?)
Neatly pack everything I could think of.
This one sounds like I over prepared, but, really, it worked out pretty well. Changes of clothes and jammies for two nights and two days for both of us, a handful of toys (nothing that I would cry about if it got lost), plenty of diapers, wipes and formula, two bottles that could be easily cleaned and alternated, wet and dry dog food (Dubby has some allergies and it's better to make sure we have the right stuff on hand, even though there was another dog where we were going), all our necessary toiletry items, Baby's highchair (strap to the chair model), and the pack-n-play. I even managed to get everything into my average sized suitcase and the diaper bag!
Arrange driving times around Baby's sleep schedule.
I did this thinking it would help him get as close to regular naps in as possible. According to "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" (my pediatrician brother says this is the book for sleep everything), sleep in the car is not as high a quality sleep as stationary sleep (in the crib, etc.), but I knew for a fact that he would not be able to stay awake once we started going, regardless of whether or not it was nap time. So, my plan was to leave right at the beginning of his usual afternoon nap time, hoping he would sleep roughly his normal two hours, which would be 2/3 of the total drive time.
It was a bit hit and miss. Both on the way there and the way home, Baby did sleep almost immediately once we were underway. Both ways he made it about an hour and half, so only half the drive. I had placed a few toys within arms reach and he played with those for a bit longer. Then boredom set in and he began getting cranky. Taking this a queue, we made a pit stop and he got some time out of the car and some fresh pants. This helped for a little while, but he was still sick of the car and wanted to be done. Queue second stop to whip up a bottle and feed him, even though we were within a half hour or so of our destination. This still wasn't the ticket to happiness for Baby, but it got us through to the end! Both times, once we arrived and got out of the car (for good this time), he perked back up!
Attempt to keep roughly on a normal sleep schedule to keep a happy baby!
Again, a hit and miss effort. The drive-time naps went so-so and he managed to take his morning naps on time and roughly for the normal duration the two days we were there. Beyond that, however, there really is no hope for a sleep schedule on vacation! Bed times were an hour (or two!) later than usual and the afternoon nap was painfully short or non-existent all together.
Night time was the worst. I'm not sure if the issue was being in the pack-n-play in a strange place rather than his crib at home, the fact that Dubby and I were in the room with him (he is used to being in his own room, alone), or a combination of the two, but staying asleep was a struggle and he frequently needed comforting/to be fed/etc.
Thankfully! Baby J is a sweet, happy little guy and he managed to maintain his usual demeanor, despite the yucky lack of sleep on his part. Me? I had coffee, the excitement of seeing loved ones, and super mom skills at functioning like a human being regardless of the level of sleep deprivation.
This one was a hands down success. The little bumps in the road didn't deter from getting to spend time with beloved family that we rarely see. Many met Baby J for the first time and everyone agreed that he was the cutest baby! I'm naturally inclined to agree! We talked, we brunched, we shopped and otherwise enjoyed ourselves.
For the future? The only major change I may give a try is going immediately after a nap rather than before. Perhaps then the happy, awake time would eat up the beginning of the trip and the tired cranky part would result in a nap for the end? Another perk will be as Baby gets a bit older, he can be trusted with his own car snacks and drinks, cutting out some pit stop time...then again, it will also increase his ability to vocalize things like "Are we there yet?" and "But Mommy, I have to potty now!"