We piled into the car Saturday for our first road trip with our completed family.
We were off to Tempe, Arizona, to take in a little Spring Training baseball and visit with friends. It's the first time I'd been anywhere since Thanksgiving of '08, when I was pregnant with X and we flew to visit David's brother and family in Florida.
The drive was going to be about seven hours, including stops. We figured X would sleep for a lot of it.
We were wrong.
Here is a list of what I've learned about traveling with three kids, ages 6 and under:
1) The baby will not sleep in the car. If he does, it will be when you're only going to be in the car 10 minutes, so your husband has to drive him around for an hour in a car that gets to the tune of 8 miles per gallon city.
2) If you don't have a screen to watch videos in your car, go out and buy one. Immediately. I don't care if you don't allow your kids to watch TV at home. If they are not reading yet, and no one can find the Leapsters, then the TV will save your life. Trust me.
3) Pack food. Lots of it. They will say they're hungry while they're shoveling snacks into their faces. DO NOT forget the drinks, however. You will hear about how they're DYING of THIRST exactly five minutes after you've passed the sign that reads, "Next Rest Area 50 miles."
4) Unless you have an actual two-room suite - with a DOOR - at your hotel, you will all have to go to sleep at the same time. Or the baby will stand in his pack-n-play and shriek until all the lights are out.
5) You can't fall asleep at 9 p.m.
6) You never realized how loud your eldest son snores. You make a note to buy some benadryl. For both of you.
7) Don't let your husband pack the pack-n-play. He might bring the bassinnet, and your child's head and feet touched either end. Which could explain why he was up every three hours the first night.
8) When your daughter tells you her tummy hurts, believe her. No matter how prone to drama she is.
9) Three innings of a baseball game is all you're going to get, so don't bother getting settled in. Besides, you'll be up chasing your toddler around, trying to keep him from picking up a stray bottle cap or peanut shell the whole time anyway.
10) Just because your daughter ate two sliders and is doing cartwheels do NOT assume everything's fine.
11) If your toddler is playing with some Jenga blocks, he WILL slam one into the eye of the three year-old daughter of a friend's friend. He will soon after walk up to her, lean in so she's looking at him, then smile, wave and say, "Hiiiii." A real charmer, that one.
12) When your daughter poops a little in her pants - which she NEVER does - at the store the morning you are getting ready to leave, and you see that it is green, do not think it's a fluke.
13) Don't bother stopping in a store for more than 5 minutes to purchase new underwear. Your youngest will shriek the entire time.
14) Do try to make it as far as you can without stopping on the ride home. When your daughter has a green poop explosion at the rest stop, don't be relieved it's only coming out one end.
15) You might get excited about checking out the Cabazon outlets in Palm Springs. But don't for one moment think you will shop. Your daughter, who has just woken up from a two-hour nap, will need to use the bathroom urgently. When she's done, and she starts coughing on her way out, you now know she's about to barf. Because she does - right in the doorway.
16) Do not pimp-slap the custodian who comes to clean up the mess but steps in it instead - and then starts shouting profanity. Do hug the women who get napkins from the nearby food court to help you clean up your daughter, who is trying not to cry despite being covered in vomit (do curse the "green" restroom that doesn't have paper towels in it).
17) Don't wait until you are 45 minutes from home and have a sick child and a wide-awake, fussy toddler in the car to discover you've left your purse on the chair of the restroom. Do thank the good samaritan who turned it into mall security with contents intact. Have them FedEx it to you, since you are going HOME and not back to Palm Springs.
18) Try not to get frustrated at your eldest, who, in tears, keeps saying, "I miss Arizona."
19) Do not let your husband out of your sight when you arrive home. The second he steps outside to turn the water back on, your daughter will throw up right on the floor in front of the bathroom. Do feel good that he's cleaning it up.
20) Be grateful that no one - not a sick child nor an over-tired toddler - woke up in the night.
21) Start planning your next trip.
Because despite the lack of sleep and the rough ride home, we still got to be together as a family. That's what builds the "Remember when we..." stuff that we'll talk about forever. Some of the best memories I have from growing up our the trips we took - even the not-so-fun-at-the-time stuff.
So what are you waiting for? Pack up your family and go - you never know what you might discover!
I'd love to hear some of your best traveling with the family stories - please share!