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March 02, 2008

Family Vacations

Airplane Traveling was once a fairly straight-forward proposition.  Bring plane ticket, sunblock and extra underwear.  Now, with a two year old and a three year old, it's a military maneuver. Last month, my husband and I took a weekend away.  We were heading out of state, on a plane, and my mom was coming to stay with the kids.  It took me about a week to get ready.

First, came the list. It started as a sheet of emergency contacts and soon morphed into a two page document that included the kids' birthdates and Tylenol dosages. I tried to think of everything.  The number for the pediatrician wasn't enough.  I had to add the number of the pharmacy that delivers prescriptions.   I put down our cell phone numbers, and then figured, while I was at it, I might as well include all relevant relatives.
But that degree of detail involved recreating my phone directory. My cell phone had recently suffered a water related memory loss, so I had to start from scratch. I sent out an email saying,"My cell phone crashed. Can you please tell me your numbers?" 

Here are some of the various, one line, responses I got:
    •"We're in apartment 610."
    •"We don't have a land line. Use our cell phones."
    •"Don't use my cell. It has to be off in the ICU. Just call the hospital; they'll find me." 

So, as you see, it took me a while to finish that "simple" list.
After the list, came the explanations of how to work things in the apartment.  I figured strategically placed post-it notes would help my mom.  So I set out writing instructions to the TV and computer. I put a note near the tooth brushes, identifying which brush belonged to which kid.  I put a note near the phone, explaining how to call the garage to retrieve the car. Soon enough, our house looked like the movie Memento.
And after the post-its came the doomsday-type preparations. I stocked up on food, bottled water and medicine.  I re-packed the diaper bags. I made sure each stroller had a rain shield; that hats and mittens were easily accessible.  There were batteries and candles.  And...oh, all this reminds me that we're all out of matches...
Believe it or not, we really did relax once we were away. I called home once (ok, maybe twice) a day.  And despite the brevity of the weekend, it did feel like a vacation.  Even the plane ride was great.  Flight delay because of maintenance trouble? No problem!  Just hand me another magazine.  It was glorious.  Of course, once we were home, it was as if we never left.  Re-entry into the earth's atmosphere was a little bumpy.
We're now onto the second type of trip you take when you have kids.  The trip WITH kids. This is a new one for us. We did do a fair amount of travel with one baby, a couple of years ago.  But we haven't gone on a plane yet with two.  We've been avoiding it.  The thought of wedging two car seats onto the airplane was entirely unappealing.  Besides, as one of my friends recently said, "Why should I be miserable away, when I can be miserable at home, where I at least have all of my gear and I know my kid will sleep?" 
Nevertheless, we're taking the plunge.  It's grandpa's 70th birthday and we're heading for an island warmer than this East Coast one.  So far I've managed, despite multiple trips to the post office, to get the kids passports; I've found a child friendly hotel; and I'm steps away from securing a crib.  I've even discovered a device that should render the plane ride tolerable.  It's a seatbelt adapter for toddlers and young kids.  No more car seats on board! We're checking those monstrosities at the gate!!
Married with kids-- travel with kids. As we've decided, it's not a "vacation," it's a "trip."  I'll let you know how it goes when we get back.  In the meantime, does anyone have a portable DVD player we can borrow?  Thomas the Tank Engine is coming with us as well. 
Bon voyage.

Originally posted on the New York City Moms Blog


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