So the exciting time has come! After one overnight trip to Martha’s Vineyard which was a success, we decided to take the plunge into our first extended stay family vacation. Sure, it was only a few nights to nearby Vermont, but for two people who are used to spending four weeks in Palm Desert, California every year and hadn’t gone anywhere in two years (except for Martha’s Vineyard), we felt excited just to be going for this short time.
Of course, everything changes when you have an extra half person traveling with you. Gone are the days of quickly packing a bag right before you run out the door. On top of the lists created, additional luggage, toys, and accessories also comes the strategic packing process of the car. It is a science quickly mastered due to the fact that if not, items will have to be left behind. And most likely those things won’t be the baby’s things!
A must have that I quickly learned we needed were bags with pockets. A not just a few pockets, lots of pockets! Organization is key, especially as you are driving down the highway in traffic, unable to pullover. If you have to stop, you want to be as efficient and fast as possible. You also want to be sure that you have as many activities ready as possible, because as much as of an angel as your child is, they are going to get bored. Sure Carmella can talk, but did she understand why we were driving for four hours? No, she was mad that she couldn’t get down and play and do things other than being trapped in her car seat. I’m sure having a built in DVD player probably would have helped, but neither of us being independently wealthy, we invested in a cheap $50 portable DVD player. This works great as long as it’s out of reach of someone’s hands; she finds it funny to slap the DVD player because it makes it start over (to which she then gets upset once she has to watch the same scenes again). Even the huge pile of books I brought along were used up in a matter of 30 minutes.
The method of planning also changes. Prior to Carmella, we looked for nice hotels with amenities. This trip we decided renting a house was best. Not only would it give us more space, it would be easier to prepare her food (and ours), but when she went to bed, we would have the rest of the house to use instead of being in the same (hotel) room she would be sleeping in.
The vacation was a great getaway for our family and it was fun to watch Carmella experience her first family vacation. I think her favorite parts were going out to eat for meals, shopping at the toy store, and going to her first farm. Of course the biggest change of being on vacation is the change in schedule. This relates to naps, feeding time, and the biggest change: bedtime.
Being the mother of a girl that hates sleep more than anything (it’s almost like she feels like she is missing out while she’s sleeping!), I figured, how bad could it be? She already gets up several times a night. Well, what a surprise I was in for. She slept great in the Pack n’ Play, which is surprising granted how uncomfortable they look! She actually slept better than she did at home! However, the Pack n’ Play was set up in our room. Once we got home and she was back in her room, the problems started. Being alone in her room, she started sleeping worse than before. And I use the term “sleep” loosely. Literally, she was getting up every hour and wanting to come into our room.
A few days later, Hurricane Irene came to visit and nicely knocked out our power for five days. The poor girl was very confused about what was going on, and believe it or not things got worse yet again. Our drama queen would not only cry, but gag to the point where if left alone, she will throw up if no one goes in fast enough for her. Even when the power came back on, she still was acting this way! Luckily, last night, for the first time in over a month, she slept through the night – and in sleeping through the night, I mean getting up only once. Hopefully she outgrows this before baby number two comes along.
So, all in all, summer vacation was great. It gave me plenty of time with Carmella and my husband, but at a huge cost: our sleep. Is a vacation with a 15 month old really a vacation? Not like the ones we’re used to. It’s different. Instead of pampering ourselves, this vacation was about opening up a whole new experience to this little one. Pristine mountains, rushing rivers, massive animal farms, more driving than she had ever hoped for, and a whole lot of time with her two favorite people. Hopefully this is one of her earliest memories.