Lets Talk About Family Vacations

We just returned from a 5-day trip in Newport Beach.  It was lovely.  We had an amazing time.  I am so glad we went.

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!

It was a really great trip.  We were so relaxed and so happy.

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.

Then they were nice enough to watch her again the next morning so we could go alone on a 3 hour whale watching tour.  According to David and Shelley - she was a total dream.  Of course she was.

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!

Yes, We Are Boring Parents

Before I became a parent I had a really good idea of what kind of parent I would be.  I expected Seth and I to just incorporate our children into our lives as easily as possible.  We would be the cool parents that did everything with their kids.  Our lives didn't need to change completely just because we were having kids!  Sure I expected routine to be an important part of their lives, but if we wanted to hang out at a friend's late - the kids could just stay up longer than usual!  I envisioned us going to dinner with our gorgeous and well-behaved children in tow.  We would frequent festivals, and cultural events. Anything was possible (except movies - I knew I would never drag my baby to a movie).  We would have friends over to our house and stay awake late.  We could do that still!  Our lives didn't need to change completely. We were going to be cool.  We were going to be the parents that people looked up to.  We were going to be rad parents.

And then reality hit...

Suddenly we had this little tiny human that required every ounce of energy we had.  We stayed awake for hours on end those first months.  We daydreamed of a night where we could sleep for 5 hours without being interrupted.  Our whole world began to revolve around keeping little Millie happy.  We spent evenings bouncing and pacing with her.  We ate with one hand, standing up,  because anytime we put her down she would cry.  We would reluctantly put her to bed for the night and JUST start to get comfy on the couch when the inevitable scream could be heard over the baby monitor.  Nothing can prepare you for that first baby and those first ridiculously hard months with the baby.  But yet, as time went on, things got easier. She was still up at night but if we were lucky it was just 1-2 times.  She would go to sleep at 7pm and usually wouldn't wake up until 1am or so.  Our evenings were once again our own.  And we settled into our boring "we have kids" routine.  We watched TV and we went to bed early.  That was our only option.  Because we were 100% exhausted.  Seth and I were both working full-time and trying to juggle this new responsibility.  A responsibility that we were completely smitten with but still a new responsibility.  I know we had friends over those early months.  We could barely carry on a conversation.  We were always distracted.  And if we watched a movie - I guarantee we were both asleep within minutes.  You are really on survival mode those early months.

Then things got even easier.  Millie started sleeping through the night.  But then she started waking up every. single. morning. at 6am.  I have never been someone that "sleeps in" much.  To me, sleeping in late was 10am.  Sleeping in was usually 8 or 9. I've never understood how people can stay in bed until noon or later.  Yet, six in the morning was early.  And it still is early although it is getting easier to wake up in those early hours before the sun comes out.  Thus began our second round of adjustments - you can stay up as late as you want now - but you will wake up every day of your life at 6am now.  Sadly, if we stay up until midnight it's not like you can catch up on sleep later.  If we are lucky we can nap when the baby does.  But that's when you shower, eat, clean, read, etc.  Those hours of sleep are also lost.  You never get them back.  Sure we can stay up late, but is it worth being tired and cranky the entire next day?  It rarely is.

Millie has never been a girl that will sleep wherever we put her.  She sleeps best in her crib.  We have tried putting her down other places and it just doesn't work.  She's screaming, we are stressed, and hell, it just isn't worth it.  So 99% of the time we are home by 7:30 or so to maintain bedtime. And I am fully aware how annoying this is to people (especially our friends that don't have kids).  Honestly, I wouldn't trade those precious 2-3 hours of time without Millie for anything.  I relish those hours at night when after working for 13-14 hours straight, I can sit down, eat my dinner, watch a show and go to bed by 10:00pm.  It's 2-3 hours a day that I am lucky to have to myself.  Sure I spend some of those nights cleaning, doing laundry, dishes, etc, but at least I am doing them without another distraction.

Yes, Seth and I are boring parents.  We are.  It's the only way we are surviving working, keeping up a house, maintaining what we can of our friendships, and raising a kid.  Not to mention being pregnant and even more exhausted than normal.  I never understood how completely exhausting (and wonderful) it would be to be a parent. It's all-consuming.  It's like working an 80+ hour work week every single week of your life.  And sure we get a break.  Maybe we get a night out for 3-4 hours a couple times a month.  Maybe we go on a vacation without our kid once a year for 2 nights (because anything more than 2 nights really puts other people out).  But for now, that's about it.

I've noticed that it is getting harder and harder to relate to our friends that don't have kids.  Trust me, I hate this. I really really hate this.  I remember judging my friends with kids, before I had kids of my own.  Sorry Sally and Blake but I never understood why you didn't hang out more. I didn't understand how you could possibly have NOT SEEN the newest Harry Potter!  I didn't understand why we couldn't just come hang out at your house more often when the kids were in bed.  I'm sorry.  I didn't get it.  Now I totally get it.  People don't really understand that starting a 2+hour movie after 8:30pm is too late.  Because that sounds absurd! Especially on a weekend!  But we do it because we will fall asleep. But we can't help it. We want to stay awake. We try. We really try. We fall asleep most nights on the couch at 9pm. We are boring parents.

Babysitters are expensive.  I also have a job that requires a lot of after-hour events.  So when it comes to looking at how often I can afford/find a babysitter in a month - sometimes movies or going out to dinner are the last items on the agenda.  It's hard finding someone to watch your kid. It's hard spending $40 on a baby sitter on top of everything else you will spend money on in an evening.  Trust me, I would have a sitter every single weekend if I could.  I love/cherish/relish in our "date nights".  It just isn't always something that works out.

I also don't like bringing my kid to a restaurant.  MOST of the time it isn't worth it.  It's just not.  It's wrestling/entertaining/diverting during a meal.  We don't enjoy the meal, we know our friends don't enjoy the meal, and the people in surrounding tables don't enjoy it either.  So nope, most nights we just choose to not go to dinner. Maybe in a couple of years we will. Maybe our next kid will be a complete angel at restaurants. But dinner with a toddler is not fun.  That's why we tend to stick to take-out at our place. Again, another total expectation of myself that I have failed at.

Even doing things that I know Millie will enjoy such as festivals, aren't that great at this point. I took Millie to Craft Lake City and spent most of my time just following her in a 30-yard-radius of the festival.  Because she didn't want to go see the booths.  She just wanted to play by the water.  Again, I could bring her to those things, but I am mostly going to want to leave her with someone else.  Not to mention the amount of time and energy it takes to prep for such an outing.  I had no idea.  Pre-kid me thought I was going to be a total pro at this.  Turns out, I'm just not.  For now our outings are all children based.  We can do Red Butte Garden, the Zoo, the Park and a children's museum like pros. We are really good at those outings.

There are parents out there that kick ass at this stuff.  They bring and do everything they want with their kids. They camp/backpack/travel with them.  I just am not that parent.  When I do try those things (such as camping) it is so much work and usually not that fun.  I am surviving this phase of my life in the way I know how.  By being home.  We don't go out, we don't do much , we go to bed early. We watch a lot of TV shows.  And that is our life right now.  It's just a phase.  I know time goes quickly and before we know it our kids will be older than 5 and we will be those parents that go and do whatever they want with their kids.  I know someday I'll look back on this time and wish I had one night at home to watch TV.  :)

Friends without kids - please be patient with us.  This is just the reality we are in now. It's survival mode. This is how we cope.  We won't always be this lame.  Our old selves are still here, somewhere. They will reemerge someday.

Now go, do all those things you get to do.  Travel, go out every night, see every movie in the theater that you want, stay out all night and sleep all day.  Do it because you can.  And we envy you for it.