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On getting away… but realizing that we can’t escape

Sometimes, we plan ourselves a little mini-vacation. We go somewhere where the sun almost always shines in order to break up our rainy winter here in Western Oregon.

Pulling off a trip out-of-town, even the most mini of mini-vacations, requires lots of work and mega-list-making. We do laundry, meal plan, food shop, and pack. We spend about as much time working to make the trip happen as we’ll actually spend away, but we know it will be worth it. We’ll soak up some UV, strap on snowshoes and get away from the world, enjoy good adult conversations with friends, and escape our career and stay-at-home-mom worlds.

And we pull it off. After two hours of songs, hand games, iPad apps, snacks, and just a little whining, we make it to a cabin where we’ll spend a long weekend with dear friends and their little boy, just a few weeks older than BabyC. We start to plan a weekend of fun activities together.

Only problem is, we are already exhausted. BabyC has been working on a couple of new teeth, so she’s not in the best of spirits. She and I have both been up every night for the past week. I have a cold and am feeling worn down. Husband has been working hard and just wants to sleep.

Still, Saturday morning welcomes us with a few inches of fresh snow, blue sky, and warm sun. We are determined to get out and enjoy it, so we plan a snowshoeing trip after our kiddos have had their naps.

We head back West, into the mountains. As we turn onto the main road, I lament that I forgot to bring sunscreen. A few minutes later, the sun is gone, and Husband remarks that the outdoor temperature has dropped 10 degrees in as many miles. We climb up a mountain pass as the snow flurries start. By the time we have arrived at the trailhead, the snow is dumping. We start to bundle up our kids and ourselves, but after a couple of minutes of standing in that weather, we admit that our babies are not going to be happy about hiking in these conditions. We tell ourselves that if it wasn’t for them, we would definitely want to go for it, but being responsible parents, we re-pack the cars, put the kids back in their car seats, and head back down the mountain.

It turns out that responsible parents would have turned around at the first little flurry on that mountain, because getting back down was pretty treacherous. We had to stop to put chains on our tires. Husband, white-knuckled, drove carefully and slowly, while I pulled out all the stops to keep BabyC content in her car seat in the backseat.

The score on Saturday night: Mountain, 1. Escape plans, 0.

On Sunday, we again consider staying at the cabin and just relaxing, but we are determined to take advantage of our last day of sunshine. So we take our second attempt at snowshoeing, this time going East, where bad weather would be less likely to find us.

Fifteen minutes down the road, BabyC gives me a scared little look and then pukes up an entire bowl of oatmeal. I pull out baby wipes and dog towels and get her cleaned up. Just a little car-sickness, I think. But then up comes another bowl of oatmeal, raisins and all. We turn around and head back to the cabin, where BabyC continues to puke all afternoon. Poor kid.

Score on Sunday night: Mountain, 1. Stomach bug, 1. Escape plans, 0.

Here’s the thing: no matter where you go, you can’t escape the responsibility of keeping your baby safe in a snowstorm. You can’t escape the occasional stomach bug. You can’t escape teething or sleep deprivation. Once a parent, you can’t escape parenting.

What can you do? You can play in the snow with the kiddos in the driveway. You can watch your child reconnect with her first friend. You can sit in a chair by the window with a cup of tea, sunlight streaming in. You might even be able to sip it for a few minutes before your toddler decides to start climbing on the furniture in the non-childproofed house. After the kids are asleep, you can share a bottle of wine with good friends and have some adult conversation, even if your definition of that has now been stretched to include preschool decisions, toddler sleep, and picky eating. You can play a competitive game of Scrabble – just forgive yourself if you can’t quite finish the game. You might rather go to bed early. You can adjust your expectations.

It isn’t an escape, but it is a change of pace. Sometimes that is enough.

But oh, when you pack up for a weekend such as this, you should know that bringing 20 papers on infant sleep with you doesn’t mean that you’ll get to read them. I’m not sure when you thought you’d have the time for that.

Suffice it to say, I’m a little behind on the sleep research. I’ll be posting my next sleep article in a few days. I would apologize, but I know you understand.

19 Comments
  1. The Big Picture Calgary #

    Best laid plans of mice and men 🙂

    Thanks… I’m not alone. I think sometimes we push too hard to do what we think we should do rather than what we want do. I posted just last week on bailing on our adventure in the mountains and doing what we wanted to do.

    Like

    February 21, 2012
    • Yes! I have so many visions of big adventures with BabyC, and I have to remember that she is probably just as happy (if not more) to take a leisurely toddle around the block!

      Like

      February 22, 2012
      • The Big Picture Calgary #

        Big adventures do have their time and place. Our son (2 1/2) has been across the country in the plane a couple times to visiting relatives out east, gone back country camping, loves going to the mountains to go hiking and snowshoeing – we just got back from a weekend at my parents that includes an eight hour drive each way. We’re planning to go to Wales this summer to visit extended family. But sometimes… just staying close to home is the best thing for everyone and taking that stroll around the block all that is needed to make you happy and if you don’t have to do more….

        Like

        February 23, 2012
  2. Sorry she got sick! And yeah, I agree with your other commenter… Best laid plans… I try not to plan stuff most weekends because I know we’ll be so tired and won’t want to do anything!

    Like

    February 21, 2012
    • I just try to keep our plans small, because I know that getting out together is often really good for us all, even when it takes a lot of effort. Maybe I should just limit my weekend away plans to “getting away” and not try for much beyond that.

      Like

      February 22, 2012
  3. Chrystal #

    So true, and I chuckled when I got to the end. No rush on the sleep research- although I will say it’s your initial post that got me to suck
    it up and finally work on it for real with my 6month old and she’s already doing so much better than her big sister was at that age. If only I’d had a clue back then I wouldn’t have waited until she was 14months to stop nursing her every 2hrs when she woke up in the night.. 🙂

    Like

    February 21, 2012
    • Thanks:) I’m definitely getting sucked into a lot of sleep research. Based on your experience with your two kids, I think you’ll appreciate the next post.

      Like

      February 22, 2012
  4. Chrystal #

    Also- western Oregon, wow. One of my favourite vacations was a roadtrip with hubby that included the Oregon coast. Just beautiful there. We keep meaning to go back but even though we’re just in BC it’s so far away with little ones. Someday!

    Like

    February 21, 2012
  5. Sarah #

    Oh Alice! I don’t know whether to laugh or cry (laugh with you, that is, not at you). I suspect you can look back with wry humour now (or at least, will be able to after a bit more time has elapsed). We have had so many of these moments too, although your story does make for particularly entertaining reading. I think you really could’ve pulled it off though, if it had only been under different circumstances…

    Incidentally, we’ve had the most luck with summer beach holidays involving a unit walking distance to the beach, a swimming pool and some sort of playground nearby. Very hard to fail under these circumstances!

    Like

    February 22, 2012
    • A summer beach sounds pretty nice right about now. We had a vacation like that last summer, and it was wonderful. It is funny, though, Husband and I never took any trips like that before having a baby. We did more road trips with lots of stops or backpacking trips. Now staying in one place and taking it easy is definitely the way to go!

      Like

      February 22, 2012
  6. So funny, and so real! We have never taken Miller anywhere as of yet, perhaps I’m too worried that he won’t sleep in a strange place or that other folks will get upset with us if Mil cries on an airplane . At any rate I’m glad for your advice and humor 🙂

    Like

    February 22, 2012
    • There are lots of rewards to traveling with a baby, but it is a lot of work! It was actually easier before she started walking. Now it is a lot to ask of her to sit still! Definitely something to be said for staying close to home and just enjoying life together. I think we find that actually getting away helps us to unplug from the stress of daily life, but then, we don’t live on a beautiful idyllic little farm in Kentucky:)

      Like

      February 22, 2012
  7. Sweet16 #

    Very timely! I’m wrestling with an invitation to visit dear friends who live on a lake in Minnesota this summer (we live in L.A.) My Baby C will be about 20 1/2 months at the time of the trip (mid-july.) It could be a lovely trip — enjoying the lake, hiking, relaxing with friends. They have a pack and play and lots of baby toys, sippy cups, water wings, etc. (they have older kids.) But I just can’t get over the plane trip, the sleep/nap schedule with time change, very closely watching her 24/7 in a non-baby-proofed house … sounds like I will be exhausted afterwards. At this age, is it worth putting us all through the long travel and all the rest for an experience that while lovely and stimulating, really isn’t necessary and won’t be an explicit memory for her? We do long car trips for weekend getaways so it’s not like we’re on house arrest. Maybe by summer she’ll be talking more and can understand sitting still on a plane or falling asleep easily in a strange place. Or maybe not? My husband said yes right away to the trip. Am I over-thinking the situation?

    Like

    February 22, 2012
    • Chrystal #

      Having done a long drive in the car (13 hr split into 2 days) at that age (only flying we did was at 6 months), I can say yes, definitely worth it. There’s a lot of planning involved and stuff can still go wrong but it’s SO NICE to get to visit with friends & family who you haven’t seen in awhile and watch the kids playing together. We took pictures and video and our daughter (now almost 3) still talks about them. I think she just remembers from the pictures but that’s still something. Will it be relaxing? Nah, probably not. But fun? It could most certainly be a lot of fun.

      Like

      February 22, 2012
    • I agree with Chrystal – go for it! I didn’t mean to seem so bummed in this post. It really was a nice weekend. A friend commented on my FB page that although traveling with kids is exhausting, it brings the family close together. I agree with that. I feel like my husband and I are better at parenting together when we’re traveling, because it really takes a team effort. And even if your daughter doesn’t remember the trip, she’ll still have a great time. She’ll have lots of time hanging with Mom and Dad and exploring a new place with you. A lake house vacation is perfect, because your daughter will be able to get settled there, making sleep easier. You’ll have a home base, and you’ll have friends and older kids to help watch her! The plane trip totally scared me the first time we traveled with BabyC, but it isn’t such a big deal. It really is just a few hours of your life, and I promise you’ll survive! Enjoy it!

      Also, if you missed my travel tips post, you may want to check it out in preparation for your adventure: https://scienceofmom.com/2011/11/23/20-tips-for-smoother-travel-with-a-baby-or-toddler-fresh-from-a-travel-weary-mama/

      Like

      February 22, 2012
      • Sweet16 #

        Thanks you guys for the encouragement! It always helps to hear from those who have been there, survived, and actually even enjoyed! Your travel post definitely will be re-read many times as I continue to ponder this trip. It goes back to just taking a deep breath and immersing yourself in the whole experience of parenting and trying to live in the moments rather than just get through them to go on to the next thing.

        Like

        February 24, 2012
    • Definitely worth it! I won’t lie… there will be challenges but the benefits so outweigh the negatives. Kids are amazingly resilient… it’s the adults that usually have more trouble in the end. I find that we burden ourselves with too many should dos. But go to the lake… but don’t push to do everything that is available. Respect yourselves and your limitations. Go for a hike but make sure that it doesn’t interfere with naptime (especially the first couple days), bring the favourite toys and blanket, bring a bag of outlet protectors, door knob covers and ask your hosts to put away breakables that are valuable (they have kids, they’ve been there).to cut down on the don’t touches, keep your routine (especially meals for the little one – they don’t understand that they have to wait when they’re hungry – they just get grumpy, then mommy gets grumpy, then…), respect their need for sleep. Above all, above any advice… have fun – if you’re not change what your doing and find a solution – because in the end we have to be happy.

      Like

      February 24, 2012

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