Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Traveling With Children

Our recent trip down south really made me think about traveling with the kids and the way I handle it. We live up here in the Far North, far away from family and friends, so once or twice a year we get on an airplane and try to see as many of those people as we can. I really look forward to catching up with everyone, showing how my family has grown, and letting the kids experience the big city stuff they don't get up here. And I think that Porter and Molly enjoy it too.

Except that every single time we travel, the kids (of course) get tired. They don't sleep as well in strange beds, they wake up early, naps get cut short in order to do everything we want, and bedtimes get pushed back because who wants to be on a strict schedule on vacation? So they get progressively more over tired as the trip goes on. And then there are strangers (to them) to meet, new houses to go to, and routines that are totally thrown off. I know this is hard on Porter with his reluctance to all things unfamiliar, and even Molly has her moments.

On this past trip, we really tried. But it happened. Molly put on her particularly intense, drawn out version of two year old tantrums every single dang place we went. She's prone to being particular anyway, but every day we walked on egg shells around her to avoid the mommy do it or I'll do it screaming fests. She was a lot more difficult than usual. A lot. Almost every house we stayed at also had children, so it was okay overall, I think people understood. But I felt bad. Hi! So good to see you! Here are my lovely (I mean, totally obnoxious) children. Sigh. Porter mostly held up, but had his own set of behavior issues too. So we really did have a good time, but it was exhausting trying to keep everyone happy and not be embarrassed by my poor parenting skills.

One of our last nights in town, the whole thing came to a head. We had gone to the zoo that day and walked around for about 4 hours. I was tired enough that I fell asleep on the couch while Molly napped that afternoon. Porter built a volcano with my mom, which was great fun, but I should have known that he would be way tired. That evening, we took the kids to a friend's house for pizza. No one else there had kids, but they are very good friends of mine from childhood, and I really wanted them to see Porter and Molly so I just didn't think. Total disaster. Porter was about as rude and disrespectful as he has ever been. He was so tired that he couldn't even eat (even though I knew he was hungry). He complained and acted up the entire time, even to people who were completely trying to pander to him. I couldn't snap him out of it with anger or coddling or anything. Plus Molly was her usual self, prone to terrorizing breakable items. I felt like they monopolized the discussion, which is so boring to people that don't have kids, I know. Bryce told me afterwards that he kept trying to change the subject, but it was so hard with kids in your face all the time not to talk about them. Ugh. So mostly, I was just embarrassed and really, really wished we had left them home with my parents and an early bedtime. This situation was quite easily preventable, but I just wasn't in the sleep crazy mindset.

So I guess I'm not sure what the best course of action is. Do you force a sleeping schedule (that might not happen anyway) and just say no to long road trips with no naps? Or do you just say screw it and deal with your kids being cranky? Because it's only a short time and you want to see everyone and do everything. It truly is difficult (and inconvenient to others) to stay on a routine sometimes, but it also doesn't seem fair to kids to burden them with no sleep and then get mad when they react.

The few days that we've been home have been like a sigh of relief. My kids! They are normal again! They actually aren't monsters! I just wish that everyone else I miss so much could see them like this, the way they are supposed to be. It's a lot more fun.


  1. Leave the little ones with grandma. When you come and visit, it's your time to have some fun. That's what I did when I took y'all to Chattanooga when you were babies. Continue the tradition!!

  2. Our family has TOTALLY been there before. I know what you mean...kids that start spiraling downward because they're so tired. And you want to say, "really-my kids aren't normally like this". I find when we travel out east to see family/friends, well-intentioned family and friends want to do SO many things with us, and we just want to rest and relax.
    Its a tough one. My kids are now 4 and 5 and its finally feeling a little easier to travel with them....but they still are in better shape when they're at home on more of a schedule. Zoya

  3. I hear ya sista! Hugh is no picnic when we go to Portland! I dread going anywhere knowing what a headache it'll be.
    But having you guys come out to Spokane with the kiddos was such a wonderful treat! Mollie and Porter were rockstars and were so sweet with their cousin Hugh.
    We miss you guys!!