Vacation with babies and toddlers


VacationWe made the 9 hour (turned 13 hour) drive to the OBX with our 3 y/o, 2y/o and 6 month old with only 2 Chick-Fil-a stops, only 3 Starbucks stops, and only 2 hours of crying. I’d call that a success. We are now currently enjoying a semi-relaxing week at the beach.

I had a rough transition to baby-inclusive vacations at first: I found myself desperately longing for the days when I could sit and do nothing or browse the beach knick-knack shops at my leisure. But with three kiddos in tow, vacation is different these days. Here are a few tricks to making vacation more enjoyable for everyone that I’ve picked up along the way:

1. Set your expectations: it’s going to be messy. Like day one of vacation, we woke up to this: Yes, that is EXACTLY what you think it is 💩. One of my offspring decided it would be a fun art project to paint his bed with his poop. When we went out to dinner, two children knocked over full glasses of ice water (the baby pulled one over on my white pants, a slightly different variation of the wet t-shirt competition). And then DS proceeded to over indulge in ice cream and vomited all over his bed (and the rental houses comforter)…TWO NIGHTS IN A ROW.

2. Bring the comforts of home. We literally brought the kids cribs (DH broke them down and put them back together when we got there). Praise God for pick-up trucks! They sleep MUCH better in their own bed, and they can’t get up in the morning before we’re ready for them (read: quiet coffee time for mom and dad). We also brought black out curtains that we draped gently over the windows.

3. Screen time is okay. Especially in the car on your 7 hour drive…its better to hear Daniel Tiger on repeat than it is to hear screaming tantrums for hours on end. This is EVERYONES vacation, so let the kids indulge in a show while you indulge in some quiet rest.

4. Be prepared for a non-stop party. Vacation with littles is not some relaxing beach stay where you doze in the sun all day drinking Mike’s Hard Lemonade and reading your favorite book. It’s a PARTY. Remember when you were a kid? How cool was it to go to the pool or beach?! Or go out for ice cream, doughnuts and pizza?! Or even stay up past your bed time?! Prepare yourself to let go of YOUR expectations of vacation; prepare yourself to go with the kid flow and every second can be a party (while still caging the wild party beasts in their cribs so you can build in a few hours of adult vacationing for yourself in the morning and evening).

Cultivate JOY in the little things, so that even in the chaos that is life with small children you can build a vacation to remember (and even enjoy in the moment).

The Superpower every Mom needs (and already has)

When you picture God, how do you see Him?  What about our Blessed Mother Mary, how do you see her?  And the Saints, how do you see them in your mind’s eye? When I picture them in my head they are always smiling, and not just smiling, they are beaming at me.  They are radiating Christ’s love.

Even when I’m grumpy and complaining to Him, Jesus is always smiling at me.

I went on a spiritual retreat recently where one of my take away messages was the power of a smile.  For me as a mom of young children, a simple smile is a display of holiness–it radiates God’s love. It’s a kind of superpower, a channel for God’s awesome power to flow through me and into the world…and into my children’s hearts.

I exercised the superpower of a smile yesterday. It was the first time I had intentionally done this during a difficult tantrum, and the results were nothing short of miraculous.

The scene: My 3 y/o daughter is screaming and crying (epic tantrum). I can’t quite remember the cause but I think it was something along the lines of not wanting whatever food was for lunch, etc.

I knelt down at her level, made eye contact and SMILED at her.  Like big, huge Mother Teresa-inspired smile. It was an instantaneous response: her tantrum literally melted away and she was calm.  She told me with her words what she was upset about, and we moved on.  The house was (for the moment) peaceful again.

I feel like I’ve been conditioned to think of tantrums as “bad”, undesirable behavior that needs to be corrected or even disciplined.  So to get down at my daughter’s level and smile went against every fiber of my being.

It was a forced, contrived smile.  I definitely did NOT feel like smiling.  But, as my husband said when we were talking about it later that evening, that smile was true agape love.  To show love, even when you don’t feel it, is to love like God loves.

“I give you a new commandment: love one anther.  As I have loved you, so you also should love one another” (John 13:34).

Your smile, Mama, is your superpower…or rather, God’s awesome superpower-love working through you. And what could be a more perfect power than God’s love?

May Goals

With three kids three and under, life is crazy these days. It seems like I keep making goals that I fall short of reaching, and month after month of failing to meet goals is discouraging. When I sat down to write this post, my first thought was: “Why bother with a post about goals? You never keep them.”

But I quickly stomped out that thought. Goals are important. They keep us going, striving for something better. They help to elevate us above mediocrity, and set us on a higher path. They give us purpose and when we do achieve them, they inspire us to greater things.

So here are my May goals. To write these, I returned to my 2018 Big Picture Resolution and Big Dreams and made sure my goals were in line with those.

  1. Daily (creating a daily prayer habit):
    1. 30 minutes of mental prayer each morning.
    2. 1 rosary each day.
    3. Daily mass.
    4. Read 1 psalm and 1 chapter from the New Testament daily.
    5. Read 1 section from a soul-strengthening book daily.
    6. Wash, dry, fold and put away 1 load of laundry daily.
    7. Remember to reflect on the GOOD things I’ve done throughout the day, not just the ways I’ve fallen short.
  2. Weekly:
    1. Weekly confession.
  3. This month:
    1. Plan out homeschooling schedule for the summer (I am discerning homeschooling for our family and am going to try out basic lessons and a daily routine this summer).
    2. Organize family clothes (put away winter clothes, bring out summer clothes, and put away things that are too small, too stained, etc).

I feel like this year is taking a different direction than I envisioned, which is beautiful thing because I can see God’s hand at work in my life.  I can see Him guiding me down a path that I had never really planned for myself. (This in itself is an answered prayer as I daily pray Psalm 25:4, “Make known to me your ways, Lord; teach me your paths). God is doing just that for me and there have been a lot of exciting (very surprising) developments in 2018, mainly in amazing opportunities for me to evangelize: being invited to co-lead a Bible study next year, organizing a faith-based book group for the summer, being asked to be a Table Leader for our local MOPS chapter next year, and being able to start up a playgroup for mothers of young children from my church.

These opportunities have all been surprises to me, which just goes to show that you can set your own goals but God might have different goals in mind for you!  Keep your eyes and ears open to God’s goals for your life, because, as I’ve been discovering lately, they are the best ones. 🙂