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July 27, 2011

What I Learned on Vacation

We had a fantastic mini-vacation last week. I’m by no means an expert on travelling with little ones…seeing as how I have worked to avoid it as much as possible over the past two and a half years…but there are a few things I learned, at least relative to our girls’ current age.

We drove during the girls’ naptime. Yes, that meant we didn’t get an early start, but it was well worth it to log some miles without a constant chorus of “Baa-Baa Black Sheep” (not that I don’t love that song, mind you).

We adhered to the girls’ schedule while we were on our trip, as well. Sure, I would have loved to have spent a little more time among the fishies at the aquarium, but it would have put us behind the girls’ nap schedule.
And certainly I would have loved to take advantage of a yummy coffee shop next to the yummy pizza place where we ate dinner one night, but I don’t mess with the girls’ bedtime for anything.

A well-rested babe is usually a happy babe.

It probably goes without saying that I planned our activities around the girls. Sure, I would have loved to have browsed through some of the cute little galleries in town, or have gone sightseeing through some cool neighborhoods…but at 2 ½, the girls wouldn’t have been happy with that for very long. We filled our days with family activities.

I tried to mix up higher-energy adventures – like the children’s museum – with more “reflective” ones – like the aquarium. And I counted the indoor pool at the hotel as an activity with its own time slot, not something I tried to squeeze in after dinner.

I researched a short list of restaurants before our trip. I knew what was located near each attraction, and I had a basic sense for the menu. Our girls are big veggie and fruit eaters, so I was able to steer us towards places that offered fresh fruit and veggies, at least as side items.

It makes a world of difference in my little world to know what I’m getting into before I walk through the door somewhere.

The Hotel.
It certainly wasn’t the most cost-effective option, but the splurge for a two-bedroom suite was very well worth it in my book. The girls had their own bedroom and bathroom…so when they went to bed at 7:00, Hubby and I weren’t trapped in the bathroom (as a friend of mine recently recounted about having to share a single hotel room with her twinnies!).

The most challenging part of the vacation was keeping the girls occupied in the hotel room. We weren’t there for long each day, but when we were…it was a handful to keep two kiddos from literally climbing the [germ-infested] curtains in such a new environment.

Another great investment was two new toys that I gave to the girls while we were on vacation. I bought small Magna Doodles, and that would buy me 10 or 15 minutes to grab a quick shower or make breakfast.

Hubby was less than pleased when I told him we were taking the double stroller. He was so excited about not having to pack the high chairs...he thought he was getting off scott free...but I wasn't quite ready to let him off that easy. :)

As it turns out, we didn’t use the stroller for any of our outings…but I was still thankful we had it. We strolled the girls from the car to the hotel room (while also pushing with a jam-packed luggage cart). [I’m just guessing that was a funny sight, the Hubs and me trying to navigate the (non-automatic) set of double doors the lobby…]

The girls sat in their stroller while we unpacked and got the room ready to release the mob. We were able to be very efficient without two little monkeys “helping” us every step of the way.

The only other time we used the stroller was when I needed to get a couple of things done in the room…I needed to blow up the girls’ floats for the pool, and clean the bathtub ahead of taking them to the pool.

(Yes, I cleaned the bathtub. I can’t trust my babies’ precious bottoms to someone else’s bathroom cleaning. I used dish soap to accomplish the task…and after spending a good 15 minutes trying to rinse the lather from the tub, I felt reasonably sure it was germ-free.)

Anyhoo, during Operation Tub De-Germ, Hubby loaded the girls in their stroller and took them for ice cream. Everybody won…except Mommy…who I realized later not only had to clean a bathtub during her vacation, but also got the shaft in the ice cream department.

Still, the power of plastic restraint did come in handy a couple of times.


And, last but not least…I also learned that it apparently is impossible to visit an aquarium without hearing at least one person say, “Where’s my fishin’ pole when I need it?

All in a day’s work!


Deanna said...

Great tips! I think keeping the nap schedule can make all the difference in the world for us. As long as A & M get a decent nap, they can easily stay up as late as 10:00 (if we are busy or entertained) without a meltdown.

Question: Did A & B sleep in the big bed in the hotel room or did you take pack n plays or rent cribs?

Quadmama said...

This is the first time we've taken a vacation (always to see family) when I haven't been really strict about our schedule. In the past, I was the buzz kill who stopped all fun for naps, bed time, etc. In the past, it definitely helped us all maintain my sanity. Now that my girls are older, it was OK to deviate from our schedule, simply because they're able to adjust to changes. (And mini-Magna Doodles are great. We used them in the car to pass the time).

championm2000 said...

Glad to see I am not the only one who de-germs!

Marcia (123 blog) said...

No! I can't believe you scrubbed the tub :) I am looking positively laid-back next to you, Mandy, and I love it!

I must remember to tell D :)

I also want to know about the sleeping arrangements.

I love how you scoped out the food situation - I think that's very wise.

I'm desperate for another holiday and while the two bed hotel option was PERFECT last year, it was a TON of money and we decided that self-catering apartments are the way to go.

The 'Ssippi Scoop said...

To know you at the age of 10, to have actually been on vacation with you, I'm just shocked at how much of a planner you are. I know it gets the job done, but it's soooo funny. You remind me so much of my dad.

I am a freak o about Bailey's schedule, but as she has gotten older, my number 1 rule has been that if we are going to do something that requires nap time, we miss it big. Meaning, that if nap time is at 1, we don't come in at 3 and expect her to stay awake until bedtime having missed nap. We have to have other activities to do so that we are not home where she is tempted to get a late nap. And usually we don't have to worry about missing bed time because nap or nap, when she's ready she's gone!

And, I know it's the law, the rule, the Golden Rule of car seats at that, but I can't believe your girls ride rear facing still. Bailey was turned around on her 1st birthday. It was the only way I could travel to and from AL alone without listening to her scream the entire way. I did it for a year, but when I didn't have to legally do it anymore, I didn't. They say that if you just leave them that way, they just don't know about better, but this baby knew there was a world she could not see and by golly, she has a part of her mama in her that will just not give up. So she won that battle.

Disclaimer: Not trying to start a car seat war, promise!!!

Liz said...

I can relate! It takes so much just even go on a mini-trip.
On long trips we'll bring the high chairs but usually leave the double stroller.
Love the idea you had of buying your girls some new toys for the trip- anything to keep them occupied.

Great post Mandy.

Anonymous said...

we are so alike!! we leave in two weeks and i have all sorts of lists with all of this information. we're staying at a cottage right on the i'm hoping that *most* of our trips will just be steps from the house, but i need to have some back up short outings planned in case weather is bad/we need a sanity break, etc. :)

i thought i was the only one who cleaned the tub before use? :)

Barbara Manatee said...

OK, I kinda feel like a bad mom that I had never even thought to clean the tub in a hotel (not that we've stayed in one many times with the kids but still...)

Sounds like you were MORE than prepared. Nice work!

And yes, a hotel room with 2 separate rooms is WELL worth it! The first time we stayed in a hotel with the twins, we got a room that had a sliding door between the 'bedroom' and the 'living room.' Much better than sneaking and whispering in the dark the whole time. The next time, in Chicago, we couldn't afford a bigger room (it was already expensive enough!) and it was torture trying to get the kids to settle down and us to have to wait for them to fall asleep to do anything else within the room. ugh!

Glad everything went so well!