Millie was great on the airplane. She's such a great little flyer.
She had a blast swimming with her daddy.
She played and played and played at the beach.
We went to fun parks and she was happy as a clam!
Ok enough of the bullshit. Sure, we had some nice moments on this vacation but lets be honest for a minute shall we? Traveling with a toddler kinda sucks. In fact, I wouldn't say that traveling should be called a vacation at all. It's officially called a trip. It's not relaxing. In fact, it's a hell of a lot of work. Lets talk about what it's REALLY like traveling with a toddler.
Packing and prepping for the trip is a feat in and of itself. Not only do you have to pack enough clothes for 5 days, but you have to pack diapers (regular, overnight and swim diapers), wipes, diaper rash cream. You have to pack toys, books, monitors, bibs, sippy cups, etc. Then there is the gear. Carseats and strollers. It's just a lot of stuff. The airport is tough but luckily the staff are pretty accommodating and helpful to us crazy people traveling with kids. Millie had a complete meltdown at security because her "gimmie" had to be put through the security scanner. Huge crocodile tears, biggest frown in the world because she was parted for 30 seconds from her beloved gimmie. Then of course was the moment at the gate where she crawled under one of the chairs and informed us she was pooping. Yes, I have that kid that tells me when she is messing her diaper but absolutely refuses to go on the toilet. Although she does tell me, "Momma! If you go poop on the potty I will give you a really neat present!" So of course we stunk out the people around us and Seth hurried her off to change her diaper while our plane was boarding. Minutes pass and I wonder where they are - apparently she is still terrified of public restroom changing tables. Seth had to change her diaper on the FLOOR of the airport bathroom while she screamed bloody murder. Let me say this again, she was changed without a changing pad on the floor of a public restroom (shudder). We made it but we were the last on the plane.
One of life's biggest luxuries as a parent is flying alone. You know, coffee in hand, trashy celebrity magazine ready to be consumed, and maybe even a nap to be taken? I love and miss flying alone. Flying with a toddler is a whole other story. Millie actually did pretty great on the airplane. Other than free-blowing her nose about 20 times (and me diving for yet another wipe) she was pretty good. It took a lot of coordination to keep her entertained but there were no meltdowns. She charmed everyone around her. She watched "Wizard of Oz" on my laptop and ate pretzels. All in all, a cool thing.
Once we arrived we were thrilled to have Seth's dad and his girlfriend Shelley pick us up at the airport. And we were LUCKY to have them to help the whole trip. On the drive from the airport I knew I had to keep Millie awake or that would mean no nap. What is it about kids and falling asleep for 5 minutes in the car - and the ability to ruin an entire nap? I wasn't willing to let that happen. So I entertained her with my iPhone as much as possible. We arrived at the house, found something to feed her and she napped for nearly 2 hours. This was a great sign, I thought. She was going to sleep well on the trip.
Once again, my optimism was wrong.
Millie got a cold. Of course she did. Cause the only thing worse than having a sick kid is having a sick kid on vacation. When you are out of your element and have no supplies. So throughout the trip she was up 1-2 times a night coughing and coughing. Unfortunately you can't give a 2-year-old cough medicine so we had to keep going in with water, and Vicks to try and help. And then she woke up every morning between 5:30am-5:45am. Ah, nothing like waking up when it's still dark and dragging yourself downstairs to watch Dora (the most annoying kid's show in the world) while on your relaxing vacation. Seth and I each took turns waking up early with her so the other could sleep in until 7:30 or 8:00. She also napped horribly. If we went anywhere between 10-12:30 she would fall asleep. Her normally 3 hour naps on this trip were maybe 40 minutes in the stroller, or the car.
The saving grace of this trip was that we knew Millie loved the beach. I mean, remember last year?
This girl was clearly on her way to being a full blown beach bum.
This year? Not so much. She HATED it. Hated the water. The first day we went she got in willingly with Seth. One wave splashed her in the face and that was it. She was over it. She wouldn't go near the water. The first day she insisted we hold her, or have her on our laps while she played in the sand...up the beach...completely away from the water. The next day she got a bit more brave and moved closer. As the tide got higher there was one moment where the water just barely touched her toes. She stood up, screaming and crying and took off up the beach and away from the water. I couldn't help but laugh because all the people around us were just dying. It was quite funny. But she never warmed to it. Hopefully this is a phase and she'll be back to her old self next time we go. So much for our dream vacation of playing for hours on the beach with our sweet Millie. Ha!
One day I decided - lets bag just going to the beach. Lets go for a day trip to Santa Monica pier! I'd never been and I knew she would get a kick out of it.
She of course fell asleep in the car on the way there. We got to the pier and took her into the old fashioned merry-go-round. She loves the merry-go-round at the zoo so I figured she would love it. She refused to ride on anything that moved. So we sat together in one of the carriages.
Don't let that smiling face fool you. She was a toad. She was spitting at us, being really mean and whining. (I blame the cold she had, that is not normal Millie behavior). We kept telling her she had to be nice or we would leave. And it got worse and worse. About 15 minutes into our day trip she started to get mad about something (I don't remember what) and we told her we were leaving. Enough was enough. She couldn't be mean to mom and dad. So we were those parents physically wrestling with our child who was screaming "PUT ME DOOOWN!" and taking her away from Santa Monica pier. We had to call and interrupt David and Shelley's plans to come and pick us back up again. Abort abort!
That was it. That was the moment where I thought, "What in the hell were we thinking? This isn't fun! This is miserable! Why are we spending the money and taking vacation days to deal with a 2-year-old and her tantrums!? We could have left her with Grandma and had a lovely vacation together. A real vacation."
That was really depressing. But I got over it. We went home and David and Shelley were nice enough to put her to bed so Seth and I could go out to dinner. And boy it felt great.
That afternoon she took a nearly 3 hour nap. I told David, "Wow, today has been the best day of the trip! Of course, we have spent only 2 hours with Millie so that's kind of sad." And then we laughed and laughed.
I was so ready to come home. I was ready to get back to our routine, to our own beds and yes...ready to get back to work. Who says that? Who says "Wow I wish this trip was over so I could get back to work!"?!
So why do we do it? Why do we travel with kids? We do it because there are really some magical moments. We do it because we can't stop doing everything when we have kids. We do it to make memories.
But damn I would KILL for a 3-day weekend away...without her.
That's the thing about social media. We only post the best parts of our lives and our vacations. You see the shining moments, the smiles, the laughter. Because those moments do exist. But in my experience they are the rare moments on your family trips. So here's to keeping it real. To really talk about how hard and how not fun these trips can be at times.
Here's hoping it gets more fun and much easier as they get older!