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?

The 3 Biggest Challenges of 3 Under 3

DS turned two on Sunday, so we’re officially out of the 2 under 2 AND 3 under 3 camp (and now we’re just in the 3 under 3 camp)! We have two 2-year-olds and a 7-week-old, so I thought this would be a good time to write this post since we’re in the thick of it and honestly, life feels HARD right now. Every day is a new challenge with three under three, but here are the top three things that I find to be difficult:

  1. Pure Exhaustion. This one is really, really hard, especially during those first six weeks at home with a newborn. You’re recovering from a physically challenging 9 months, which ended in labor and delivery. Your newborn, of course, is waking up multiple times a night. You expected that. But what you didn’t expect is TODDLER SLEEP REGRESSION. A new baby is a big transition for older siblings, and both of my “big kids”—who were awesome 7p-7a sleepers—started waking up in the middle of the night AND super early in the morning. Then they both got sick and literal poop hit the fan. Everyone in our house was beat tired for several weeks. On top of the lack of sleep is the fact that you’re spending your days chasing after toddlers, instead of resting quietly on the couch with your new baby. My advice? Invest in a Keurig.
  2. Constant needs (and neediness) of children. This one will drain you dry if you don’t make sure to take care of yourself. Again, when they’re sick the neediness is almost more than you can take (and some days it is and you have to turn the TV on and pile everyone on top of you on the couch so that you’re simultaneously able to hold three crying children at once). We have three kids in diapers still, so that’s one area of neediness. Then there are three small mouths to feed, three sleepy kiddos to put to bed, three stinky kiddos to bathe, three times the laundry to wash & fold & put away…the list goes on. On top of all that is the fact that you’ve got two kids around the age of two, so tantrums and meltdowns are no joke. So. Much. Crying. I often feel like I’m playing that Whack-a-Mole game, the one where you knock one mole (child’s need) back under ground, only to have a new mole (child’s need) pop up somewhere else.
  3. Leaving the house. Three kids—who hate their car seats—to buckle into car seats. An infant to carry around, and two walking toddlers to corral. Three times the stuff to carry in the diaper bag (I actually have two diapers bags that I bring with me now—a big one for the car and a small one that comes everywhere with me). Leaving the house is both mentally challenging and physically challenging. Three small people + all of their things to move from point A to point B makes it physically challenging. It’s mentally challenging because you only have one hand free to grab hold of a toddler, but you have two toddlers who may suddenly make a break for it. For now I’ve found the best ways to deal with these challenges is either to keep the baby in a front carrier (ideal because then you have one hand free per toddler) and/or to teach your toddlers to hold hands. Also, invest in a stroller that can carry three children, such as the Uppababy Vista, the CitySelect or the Joovy Qool. Joovy also makes The Big Caboose, but I’ve heard it’s not as easy to maneuver (which you want to be able to do easily with three under three).

Moms who have had three under three, did I miss anything? For those of you who might be preparing for three under three, what questions do you have? In case this post seemed less than cheerful, I should note that my next post will be about the three BEST things about having 3 under 3. 🙂