As a kid, we always took a big family vacation in the summer. We looked forward to this time every year, and some of my favorite memories growing up are from these vacations. It wasn’t because they were always elaborate or super luxurious or without incident, but it was because we were all together. These trips were important to me, and taking family vacations with my own family is something I always said I would do!
Our first day was a six hour drive with an overnight in Indianapolis, and it went way better than I ever imagined. Both kiddos were fantastic! There was no screaming or fighting and we only made ONE stop! Then we got to the hotel and we got what was coming to us. Our 17-month-old didn’t sleep a wink on the ride. I was a bit shocked when we rolled into the Courtyard at 11:30 p.m. and she was awake and clapping. The storm was brewing. For some odd reason, our easy-to-bed, fabulous sleeper screamed her head off as we tried to put her down for bed. I blame being overly tired. It wasn’t pretty.
My husband and I were both super stressed until 1 a.m. when only after a car ride she finally gave in. In the midst of the meltdown, though, something insanely sweet happened. Our little four-year-old looked at me, wrapped his little arms around my neck and said, “It will be ok, Mommy!” Funny how kids can sense exactly what we need at such a young age, isn’t it?
During the screaming, I questioned our sanity and wondered why we decided to drive across the country with two small humans, but in the moment when my son wrapped his little arms around my neck, I remembered why. We were creating memories! Funny, hectic, loving memories. And that’s what it’s all about!
So, without further ado, here are some of my tips:
1. Don’t let your guard down.
Your kids will want to touch all of the elevator buttons. Including the alarm. And they are ninja like in doing so, so don’t take your eyes off of them for even one second.
2. Limit fluids.
Do not hand your potty trained preschooler his sippy cup full of water right as you leave the house. You can imagine that outcome.
3. Use a travel potty!
4. Plan a visit.
Stop and see friends along your route! You get to see your friends and you get to see your kids play with your friends’ kids, which is pretty special!
Electronics are a great way to keep your kiddos entertained in the car, but take them away at their regular naptime. Otherwise they will stay up the entire way and scream when you try to put them to bed because they are overly tired. Oops.
6. Pool noodles. They work like a charm.
Use pool noodles under the fitted sheet in a hotel bed as cheap, makeshift bed rails for your toddler/preschooler! You can also use one in the middle between your older kiddos if they are sharing a bed! Helps to minimize the whole “Stay on your side!” arguments.
7. Use an overnight bag.
If your trip is going to take several days, pack an overnight bag with essentials! You can quickly grab and go without unloading your entire car each night! We packed PJs, swimsuits, toiletries, and a change of clothes in a bag so we could just grab that each night.
8. Be resourceful.
Hotel room ice buckets double as a popcorn bowl.
Just know that things won’t go perfectly. There will be hiccups, tantrums, and meltdowns. But there will also be a lot of laughs (maybe some tears), a lot of fun, and memories that will last a lifetime for you and your kids.
No matter what happens, I promise you this: “It will be ok, Mommy!”