Forget the whining, but not the wine

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Commentary by Heather Kestian

Two weeks ago, we packed up our little ones (seven months and almost five-years-old) and headed on a 16-hour road trip. This little adventure sounded like a fabulous idea to me a few months ago: “This will be great! We can stop along the way and add to the fun!” My dad once told me, “For someone who is so smart, you sure can be dumb.” In the event others will embark on road trips in the coming months, here are some travel tips for the little ones and the smart parents who accompany them.

1. Combat load the car. I had never heard of combat loading until I met my husband (a West Point grad). The general idea is to use the space around the car efficiently and for the things you are most likely to need in troublesome situations. For example, favorite toys, snacks, charging cables, diaper wipes, Kleenex and other “essentials.”

2. Stop early, stop often. While this seems counterintuitive, it is a great rule of thumb. Little bladders tend to need lots of potty breaks vis-à-vis rest areas. Also, we should consider re-naming the rest area as they are anything but restful, especially when hauling around young children.

3. Keep a journal. Every now and again, someone will say something incredibly sweet or funny and you will want to write it down. Eventually, someone will say something equally irritating and you can pull out your journal and reflect on the happy, sweet moments that happened and gloss over the moments that give you serious parental pause.

4. When a child says they are going to barf, take them at their word. My five-year-old said he had to barf when we were less than a mile from our destination. Once he started burping, I knew it was go time. Pull over, daddy. Anywhere. Trust me, you don’t want to clean barf out of your car on vacation: unless, of course, it is spring break circa 2000.

5. Take a bottle of wine. If by some miracle, you can get the children to bed and you do not immediately want to pass out from exhaustion yourself, take a few moments and enjoy quiet time with your better half. Consider it a vacation for the parents too, and savor those few moments of silence and fermented grapes before your little one wakes up to go pee in the middle of the night.


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