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Traveling Mad Libs

Tomorrow we set out on our journey to visit Pat’s side of the family for the holidays.  I am always so thankful we get to visit family, and I have a ton of fun while we are there.  But like most people, I do not look forward to the actual journey.  Having a child just ups the worries about how everything will go.

We have taken Ben on two long car trips so far.  The first was to visit Gramma and Grampa when Ben was just three months old.  That trip was pretty good.  Ben really slept most of the trip.  We stopped every three hours so I could nurse him, but otherwise it was pretty easy.  Ben didn’t need a lot of stuff.  He needed clothing and diapers really.  We brought a couple of bottles to feed him, but since we were still exclusively nursing we didn’t need to worry about food.  He didn’t play with a lot of toys, so nothing to pack there.  He couldn’t move much yet, so sitting in the car seat wasn’t a huge deal to him.  Gramma and Grampa were able to get a pack and play for us to use while we were there, so the only big thing we brought was the bouncer.  We debated even bringing that, but we ended up being so thankful to have it.  We decided to leave when Ben woke up for his middle of the night feeding, so around 4am.  The plan for this was to drive as much as possible while Ben was normally in sleep mode to help him sleep in the car.  This was a good theory, and one that has worked for many parents.  It did not work for us.  Ben was awesome in the car.  But that night after we got there he took an hour to settle into sleep.  And this wasn’t an hour of up and down, or light fussing.  This was a needing to be walked around the kitchen the whole time crying hour.  I know, that isn’t so bad for some kids, but for Ben it was pretty awful.  Along with that Pat and I were exhausted from not sleeping much the night before.  We were three unhappy Cartwrights.  Once Ben settled into his bouncer and fell asleep there we left him there for the night.  Seriously, Pat and I camped out on the living room floor with Ben.  Anything for some sleep, right?  Luckily the rest of the trip was awesome, and Ben was great on the way home.  We have no idea what set him off that first night, but we don’t try to leave in the middle of the night anymore.  If Ben is going to be fussy, we would much rather not be super tired to make it easier to deal with.

Our second long was in June to see Ben’s cousins.  Ben was 9 months old then.  Once again he did pretty well.  He cried and fussed the first hour of the trip, but then he settled in and was fine.  For that I had to pack some toys (yay for having cousins similar in age- they have toys at our destination!), and now some food.  Ben was still a pretty new eater, so I packed up a lot of food to handle his narrow diet.  I also had to pump in the car.  It was nice Ben took a bottle pretty well, but pumping in the car, while not hard, is a unique experience I don’t mind not having to do again.  This was a summer trip, which meant less worry about warm clothing and bring too cold or hot in the car.  It also meant less to pack, no coats, boots, etc.  Ben also wasn’t crawling yet, so just sitting in the car wasn’t so bad for him.  Luckily Ben didn’t have any major meltdowns when we got to our destination as well.

This trip Ben is almost 16 months old.  Once again, I don’t have to worry about packing too many toys for when we get there.  He is starting to need more entertainment in the car, but we have things for him to do.  We limit game time on our phones, but if he wants to play in the car he is more than welcome.  I don’t have to pump this time-yay!  And Ben can eat more diverse foods, so I only packed a few things I know he likes and are healthy for him.  The pluses here- he’s easier to feed and will be happy with the toys his cousins have.  The downsides- it’s winter so of course I am worried about him being dressed okay in the car and when we get in and out of the car.  The big downside- he’s mobile now.  I’m not sure how he is going to like 9 hours in the car when he just started walking a few days ago.  We are hoping he will still sleep a lot, but like I said, we are prepared to entertain him.  I am actually looking forward a bit to down the road when he likes tv shows and movies.  Right now he will watch the tv for a few minutes, but over all doesn’t care that much about it.  While we plan to have limits on screen time, those rules go out the window when it comes to long car trips.  We’ll see how our busy busy boy does in his seat for this long stretch of time.

I hope to have a peaceful trip to see the family, but regardless of how it goes I know it will be worth it.  Until then, I like to imagine the crazy ways I could fill in a Travel mad libs…

“The trip was                     !  Ben was an absolute                     .  I would/wouldn’t change a thing.  Ben was a                      champ.  I thought for sure other cars could sense our                    .  We only had to stop every                         hours, which was               .   Next time I would change                                     .   We were so happy to get to Gramma and Grampa’s house and                           them.  We will visit again in                          !”

Hopefully it won’t be full of words like “nightmare” or “pain and suffering.”  I bet the last part won’t end with “We will visit again in NEVER!

Good luck to all our traveling friends and family, we hope everyone has a fun and safe trip.  We also hope everyone has a fun and safe holiday.  I am thankful for the chance to see family that lives far away, but we will miss those we won’t be with.  Despite that I know we will have a memorable Christmas, and hopefully a great time traveling!

Time to go!!!


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