Sometimes it takes a rare celestial event – like the alignment of the sun and the moon – to make you drop every thing and alter your crazy busy schedule to witness a breathtaking event.
Initially, I planned to just keep my oldest kid home from daycare and just go get some solar eclipse glasses from 7-11 and go out in the backyard and look up in the sky and hope we see something without going blind. That was my plan. Then come back inside and try to get them to take a nap after 3 pm. Good luck with that.
Peer pressure (and the Internets) prevailed. We packed the kids up and headed to the nearest public library, where they were holding an eclipse party and handing out free glasses for kids.
And I’m glad we did.
My family loved it. It’s funny how something so constant– I mean, the sun and the moon are always out there and they aren’t leaving anytime soon– could stop us in our tracks and make us take note of its beauty.
And not just its beauty but each other’s too. We were outside the library with tons of other kids and families, office workers, commuters, passersby. College students spilled out of a nearby dorm to watch it with us. And we all chose to be together instead of watching it on TV or the Internet or in our backyards. Kids colored their depictions of the eclipse on a group coloring page. Another group of preteens threw a football.
We were all just spending time together really, watching the sun pass by the moon.
It wasn’t quite a once in a lifetime event– this is supposed to occur again in 2024. My kids will nearly be preteens so they won’t remember this one. But we have the pictures to prove it.
More importantly, I have the memories. Because we were all there, together.
At my son’s 36-month appointment (that’s what his Dr called it, can we just say he’s 3!), I got a lecture about how he needs to eat more vegetables.
MORE vegetables? Can you get him to eat ONE vegetable?
There’s a war on vegetables in my house and my toddler is winning. He went from being the adventurous avocado eating, sweet potato-slurping, pureed peas-pooping 18-month-old to the two-year-old who wouldn’t eat anything but cheerios. And chicken nuggets.
Add a year and the war is still on. He’ll slurp the Catalina dressing off a spinach leaf but he ain’t gonna swallow it. I seasoned the green beans with minced garlic and onions like he used to eat them as a baby and he straight up told me “I don’t like it.”
I got really frustrated the other day and tried to force a spoon of honey-soaked sweet potatoes in his mouth. It was a small spoon. Still a bad idea. He immediately gagged and vomited all his food on the dinner table.
I had forgotten my secret weapon. Veggie smoothies! Yes. YAAAASSS.
Two handfuls of washed spinach. Some frozen fruit. A cup of milk. Half a cucumber. A banana to sweeten things up. And a tablespoon of honey. Blend it all up.
Green goodness. I put a lid on it the first time so the green hue wouldn’t turn him off.
Everyday he gets a smoothie now.
He gets his veggies. And I win the war. At least, this war.
I am now living proof that you can survive a road trip halfway across the country with toddlers.
But you need STAMINA. Which includes the ability to make decisions and be coherent with very little sleep. FLEXIBILITY is important. Pack a CREDIT CARD for impromptu hotel stays and a SENSE OF HUMOR when the little ones have decided YOU WILL NOT DRIVE ANOTHER MILE WITHOUT ME SCREAMING AND PUKING.
My goal was to travel home to celebrate the marriage of a longtime friend. But we live on the East Coast. And our destination was the Midwest. That’s a 13-hour drive, 850 miles one way, and I haven’t driven it since I moved East a decade ago. It requires crossing mountains and never-ending stretches of cornfields and prairies. It requires TIME.
What I’ve learned: Stay flexible. Kids will make you make time for what’s important. They will slap cell phones and tablets out of your hand to get your attention. They will cry until you pick them up or feed them or change their diapers. Or stop the car. You will answer TO THEM. Or else.
And once you know who’s really running the show –THEM– you can adapt, pivot, and reach your destination, safe and sane. Here’s how:
STOP. And think it through. Would it be cheaper in the long run and add years to your life if you just bought some plane tickets?
If you will be driving more than 8 hours, consider getting a hotel. You’ll be a safer driver and a saner parent if you’re rested.
Bring a “pack and play”. If you’re not comfortable co-sleeping with your little one, you can easily set the “pack and play” up in the hotel room or at your destination and they can sleep or play in it and be protected.
Add two hours to your driving time to include diaper changes, nursing, meals and potty breaks. Plan on stopping every 2 to 3 hours.
Keep a “go bag” that you can easily reach, with bleach wipes, paper towels, diapers, butt paste and plastic bags to stash dirty diapers. Add another “go bag” at arms reach with sippy cups and snacks.
Put a good quality diaper on the baby and really put on a lot of diaper cream to avoid extreme diaper rash. This will also enable you to drive a bit farther before a mandatory diaper change.
Nursing moms should minimize the coffee drinking, which can lead to leg cramps and dehydration. Ask me how I know.
Provide distractions for the kids. Add to your luggage small toys, DVDs or a tablet loaded with offline movies to entertain them. And I love these busy bags. My little ones are still a bit young for them but I will use these in the future.
Bring jars of baby food or make your own and have ice packs with you to keep them cold. Eating fast food on the road for several days will eventually make every one bloated and irritable and give the little ones constipation after several hours of riding. And riding several hours with a constipated toddler is NO BUENO. You have been warned.
Bring a booster seat with a tray. It’s hard to feed a baby in hotel rooms that may not have a dining table.
Now that I’m back home and somewhat rested–nah the baby is teething again, there’s no rest happening here— I’m glad we did it. My toddler loved to see the bridges and point out the big trucks as we drove. The 13-month-old mostly slept, bless her little heart. Me and the hubby got to sit next to each other to talk and laugh for hours.