Monday, January 10, 2011

When Traveling With Small Children...

It's best to remember that there is at least a 98% chance that things will NOT go as planned. But if you can accept that early on, there is a 100% chance that you will still have an amazing, memorable trip :-)

So let me explain how I discovered this valuable piece of advice...

This weekend, Eric and I packed up the kids and headed to Key Lime Cove Resort with Dana and Kevin and the kids. Dana and I have been planning this little weekend away for a couple of months and we were SO excited to get there.

In case you aren't familiar, Key Lime Cove is an indoor waterpark resort and if you live somewhere cold like the Midwest, it is about the best "beach like" escape you can get without leaving the state :-) They have tons of water activities for little kids...


And big kids...


And even a few fun areas for the whole family...


The kids were both really excited to get there too. Addie talked about the "beach" every day this week...


Blake didn't know where we were going but he didn't care. He was just happy to be out and about :)


I honestly wasn't sure who would have more fun at the waterpark. But to my surprise...it happened to be NOLAN! This little guy loved being able to climb up and down the stairs...


And go down the slides by himself...


He was SO CUTE going up and down like a big boy.

Nia loved the slide too...


But her favorite part was being caught at the end :)


I honestly thought Addie was going to love the slides, but she was a little timid at first and refused to wear her life jacket. So she had to hang out with Daddy in the shallow pool. But don't worry...she was having a blast there too :)


One of my favorite parts of the whole waterpark was the lazy river. I am pretty sure Blake and I made about 15 laps during the 2 days that we were there. Eric and Addie took quite a few laps too...


And so did Aunt Dana and Nolan. It's actually where Nolan took his afternoon nap. Ha!


And speaking of naps, I was so glad I brought our stroller so that this little guy could get some shut-eye too...


You know...so Mommy could enjoy one of these...


But once we were all napped and the girls were ready for a break...


We dried off...


And had a little snack...



But that didn't last long because these kids were ready to hit the next slide...


Once Addie gave the slide a try...there was no turning back. She went up and down about 20 times...


There was no stopping this chic. Thank goodness for a shallow slide pool :)


Blake and I rode one small slide together but he wasn't having it. He just wanted to play around in the water by himself...


Then after a loooooooooong day of swimming, we headed up to our room for dinner and bathtime.

When we first got up to the room, I was worried about what we would do to entertain the kids. I mean really...what do you do in a hotel room?

Well...you can lay around in your undies...


Jump on the bed...


Goof off...


Have a tickle fight...


Play with clock radios...


And play under the sink :)


Who knew there was so much to do in a hotel room?!!

After all that playing, we were SURE that the kids would fall asleep easily. We made sure to pack some adult drinks and a deck of cards so that we could have some fun after the kids went to bed. Dana and I were really looking forward to this part too because it has been YEARS since the four of us sat down for a game of Euchre. We had the drinks poured and the cards ready to go. All we had to do was get 4 children to sleep.

So we got everyone's jammies on...


And started the process. The boys went down first, and we were almost surprised by how easily they went to bed. But since the walls in a hotel are paper thin...it wasn't long before the boys were back up. After a few more attempts, the boys were asleep, which gave us time to wind the girls down before sending them to bed too. We had them both almost asleep on the couch watching Tinkerbell, so we quietly walked each of them into our separate rooms. I carried Addie to the bed, tucked her in, started to walk out, and then she yelled, at the TOP of her lungs, "I HAVE TO GO PEE PEE!!!". While I am very happy that we have reached the point where Addie no longer needs a diaper during bedtime, it was the worst moment for her to shout her bathroom demands because Blake was asleep in his pack-n-play right next to her.

I suppose I don't need to explain that this not only woke Blake up, but Nolan up as well. With two crying boys, there was no way the girls were going to go to sleep. So we played this game for another hour and a half. One up, one down, one up, one down until FINALLY we decided to call it a night. Dana and Kevin knew their two would not go to sleep without them in the room and Eric knew that Addie wouldn't go to sleep unless someone was sitting with her. So in our rooms we went. At 8:45 pm. No drinks. No cards. No adult time. Just bedtime.

When Addie and Eric came into the room with Blake and I, it didn't take long for him to wake up. Again. For the 5th time. Obviously, with him awake there was NO WAY Addie would go to sleep in the room. So Eric took her back out to the living area and they fell asleep on the couch together. Ahh...3 out of 4. Now it was just time to get Blake back down. That was at 9:00 p.m.

And at 11:20 p.m., Blake was still awake. Still wanting to party...


I know for a fact that if I would have just let Blake cry for a couple of minutes in his bed, he would have been right back to sleep. But if he cried longer than a minute, the rest of the troop would have been awake too. So I occupied him in our room. We played with my make-up case, I let him "unpack" our suitcase over and over again. We watched Jersey Shore, ate some goldfish crackers, played peek-a-boo, rocked, and then finally...at 12:01...Blake went back to sleep. And it was quiet. For about 4 hours.

Around 4:00 in the morning, the first of the kiddies was up looking for milk. And then one by one, the rest of the gang was up too. By 5:30, the kids were on the couch watching Mickey...


To say that it was a loooooong night is an understatement. There were a few moments where Eric and I were ready to throw in the towel and drive home. And if it were summer, and the kids could just be thrown in the car in their jammies, we probably would have. But a few things stopped me. The cold was one of them. But the other was patience. We both needed to have more patience in this situation.

You see...my kids don't ever have to sleep anywhere but their own beds. They don't go to daycare or a babysitter, we don't travel or take weekends trips, and aside from the occasional sleep over at their grandparents house...these kids are in their own beds every night. So this was a HUGE adjustment for them. I guess I should be surprised that any of them slept at all! But it is hard to think positive when you are dog tired, begging your child to fall asleep. It is hard to think positive when all your fun plans for the night are suddenly over. You can't help but feel frustrated. And mad...not just at your kids, but at yourself for thinking that this was a good idea. I know Eric and I both said at one point that is was "stupid" to take this trip. But we said it out of frustration and exhaustion. The night may have been hard for us, but there are 4 little people that thought this was the best weekend EVER!!!!

And when you look at their excitement the next morning, after they just ran to put on their swimsuits and cover-ups, it's hard to be upset anymore...


Because afterall...this trip was for them.

So I realize now that in order to have fun on ANY family vacation, we need to put aside all our expectations. We can't overthink or overplan (which will be VERY hard for me) and we can't expect that everything will go smoothly. There will be tantrums, and sleep protesting, and milk spilled in the car....but there will also be lots of laughs, lots of hugs and kisses, huge smiles and a million great memories to cherish :-)

Now...if someone can just remind me of this post before we go to Disney this year, that would be great :-)

6 comments:

  1. Well at least the daytime activities were fun! Maybe by the time you guys go to Disney they will be ready for hotel sleeping. Shoot, lots of adults can't even sleep in hotels let alone kiddies.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The whole time I was reading this post I was thinking about your trip to Disney. We took Matthew when he was about 2 and a half and then we went again when he was 3 and a half and Audrey was 2 months old (what was I thinking)!?! I learned from those two trips the same thing you did. Everything can't be planned and you have to throw all expectations out the window. Just enjoy and tackle each situation as it comes. Looks like the kids had fun and that is what matters most :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh Lordy!!! Well, you're thinking about renting a house in FL right? I think that'll be much better than a hotel... Well, once you pack it with so many people, maybe not. But, Nana will be there right? HA!

    Aside from you guys definitely not getting an adults night in, it looks like it was fun! I'm sure it was a great escape for all of you to do something different for a change! Plus, if that water resort/park is anything like ours here, it was like 95 degrees in that place!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I think the house idea will work for us in Florida and Chelsi is right - Nana will be there! They will also be a bit older if that helps! I'm excited about going!

    ReplyDelete
  5. LOVE this post. How was Key Lime Cove? Lucky for us, Isaac sleeps pretty much anywhere... I do remember a late night drive around our neighborhood when we were in lake of the Ozarks. The car seat is magic!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Vacationing with young kids is really never a vacation. You always come home tired and need a vacation from your vacation! But, the time with your kids and the memories you make as a family are priceless. Enjoy it all...they grow fast!

    ReplyDelete