Monday, August 23, 2010

Traveling with Baby

I don't like the act of traveling from one place to another. I love vacations and exploring new places, but I really hate traveling in the car for hours on end, and I'm not excited about flying either. A friend just told me that she is taking her almost-three-year-old-son on a vacation via car from Illinois out to Pennsylvania and the Jersey Shore and then somewhere another sixteen hours away to stay at a relative's time-share. I looked at her and said, "You couldn't pay me to do that with a kid."

Maybe it's because I suffered from motion sickness for the duration of my childhood. Any car ride over forty-five minutes left me throwing up into my very own "barf bucket" --a one gallon ice cream tub complete with lid and handle. We flew to Florida every year at Christmastime to visit my grandparents and my dad and brother got seats in a different part of the plane so they didn't have to deal with me getting sick every time we landed. My brother would go through the plane and gather several barf bags for my mom to have handy and I never failed to use at least one. Thankfully, I've outgrown that for the most part. I do still get sick occasionally on cruise ships and I tend to avoid my dad's boat as a precautionary measure.

Ada hasn't shown any consistent signs of having my weak traveler's stomach, but she has thrown up in the car three or four times. It always coincides with her having a cup of juice right beforehand. I count my blessings that she inherited her dad's more tolerant stomach. And we'll just have to wait and see how well Iain fares in the car--so far, so good.

But that's not really why I don't like traveling. Now that I have two kids, it is because it takes forever to get anywhere. By the time you pack the car, load up the kids, get on the road, stop to nurse the baby, get stuck in traffic, listen to the baby scream, listen to Ada whine, pull off for gas or a snack or a bathroom break -- which means unloading the kids and reloading the kids--it is an exhausting process. Just going to the grocery store can take hours. I assume things will improve as the kids get older and I'm not nursing and we equip them each with an Ipod filled with movies and a cushy neck pillow. But I can't imagine I will ever get to a point where I look at my husband and say, "Let's put the kids in the car and drive far, far away for a cross country family vacation!" And if I did ever say that, I think he would look at me and know that something was really, really wrong.

The only way that I tolerate long road trips is if they are for something really worthwhile. Worthwhile meaning that I will put up with an eight hour plane ride if I get to spend two weeks in Germany. Or a six hour car ride if I get to see my best friend get married (while saving $500 on airfare and getting the grandparents to watch the kids so I can have alone time with my husband.) I start hitting my limit on trips back to our hometown an hour-and-a-half-away when we only go for a day or an overnight visit. By the time we pay for gas, pull over to quiet the kids a few times, pack and unpack the car, and then return home to a long list of chores that were put off so that we could spend three hours in the car, it doesn't seem worth it. Luckily, both of our parents live in the same town so we get to see most of our relatives each trip. And they are willing to watch the kids so we can get a date night out of the deal--assuming we aren't too exhausted to stay up late enough to actually go out on a date.

As I get older and our family expands, I find myself still wanting to do all of the things our parents and friends from back home invite us to do, but just not having the strength to endure the car ride out there to do them. I've been trying to coordinate and consolidate visits so that we maximize what we do and who we see each time we go home. It is nice to be invited and included in their lives, but there comes a point where we need to make our own lives. We live in the city and have a lot of friends to see and have Saturday brunch and BBQs with, museums and cultural centers to visit, and lazy days to enjoy. That's tough to fit in when we spend so much time traveling home for this, that, and something else. I've definitely noticed since we had Iain that more family members are coming in to see us, and they are coming more often. Now that, nine weeks after he was born, we finally got a chance to actually clean our house, I can be much more receptive to having friends and family stop by since I'm not as embarrassed by our messy home.

If nothing else, having a second child has taught my husband and I that we need to get better at saying "No" when it comes to our social calendar. I think we also need to get better at inviting our families to come visit more often and host more events here since they are more mobile than we are at this point in life. Hopefully, we'll find a happy medium.

Moral of the story: Having kids changes your social life and complicates travel. Set limits and learn how to say "No" to prevent yourselves from being stretched too thin.

No comments: