Traveling with small children is not for the faint of heart. Carrie Underwood would’ve asked Jesus to take the wheel MUCH sooner if she’d been driving four small kids across six states.
However, sometimes the sheer need to get away overrules the small voice in your head that is screaming, “DON’T do it. Stay put. Remember what it’s like to be in a confined space with your immediate family? Remember? If not, you can be refreshed by reading the multiple blog posts you wrote from last summer’s vacation. Here and here, Emily. Read these and remember.”
Life’s too short so I squelched the logical voice and began packing. My sister had thrown out what I’m sure was a sarcastic offer for us to come visit her on the east coast. She should’ve known better than to offer…..
Minute 1: The van is loaded down with every bit of loot available for children ages one through nine. Snacks, electronic devices, clothing, swimsuits, various size strollers, cooler, etc.
Minute 2: Realization that we had forgotten three things.
Minute 10: The very first “How much longer do we have?” rings from the backseat.
Hour 2: Potty break and lunch after cries of “We’re staaaaarrrrrving!” It is two hours after breakfast. Two.
Hour 3: Back in the car for 30 minutes when three of the four beg to stop because they have to potty.
Hour 3.5: Everyone is back in the van, bathroom needs have been taken care of and drinks are all refilled so we can be sure to stop at every rest stop from here to North Carolina.
Hour 4: These kids assure me they are not tired. No naps needed. They are too old for naps.
Hour 6: I realize I failed to pack any shoes for my child. With exception of his water shoes for the beach, he will remain barefoot for the trip.
Those of you laughing at my oversight, the joke is on you. This one, small error is a major success given the fact that two years ago we got all the way to North Carolina before I realized I left two suitcases (fully packed) on the beds at home. I remembered the children. I did not remember the children’s clothing.
My sister did NOT live in what I would call a metropolitan area. However, there was a general store at the one stoplight in town so I was able to purchase some interesting clothes for the week. Nothing matched and the sizes were a tad bit off…but we spent 90% of the time in swimwear so it all worked out.
On the positive side of things, I will gently pat myself on the back for a traveling success. I take pride in what will forever be known in our home as the ‘vacation mulligan.’ When leaving our hometown and dealing with lots of opinions, I told the kids there was a surprise during the trip. Each child would be granted a “vacation mulligan/wildcard.” This would allow them each one chance during the trip to get the final vote or a do-over. They knew this would come into play if they wanted to have the final say in what movie we selected or if they were on their way to losing a privilege for less than stellar behavior. It was quite telling to see which kids were interested in the do-over versus the wild card.
The rest of the trip was rather uneventful minus the pulsing screaming our youngest shared with us from 10:45 -11:45 PM. He gets increasingly wild when tired. Rather than succumbing to sleep he fights it like a rabid dog. Cue Carrie Underwood.
The rest of the kids spent their 15 hours pondering when and how to use their mulligan. They were so engrossed in the gift of this do-over that none of them actually used it. Score!
We finally arrived in North Carolina and had a wonderful four days with my sister and her family. The sand and surf soothed the grievances from the 15 hour drive. Fortunately, the four days passed faster than the drive out to North Carolina. Too soon we were packing up to head home.
We are now enduring the drive back. Mulligans have been thrown out the window and candy has been thrown out parade style just to quiet the unruly passengers. Attitudes are bad because no one wanted to leave. People are fussy and crying. Even the kids.
Soul II Soul said it best… back to life, back to reality.
*Have you signed up for TickingTimeMom emails yet? You should! I promise to pass along all my super travel tips directly to you. Tip #1: Don’t forget your suitcases. See, I’m already helping!*