I'm just going to be honest with you here: I hate traveling with my kid.
Not because she doesn't ride in the car well, because she honestly does.
And I don't even particularly care about the 50 extra pounds of stuff I have to pack.
I just don't like the shit.
Like, actual shit. From the baby.
I hates it.
Here's the situation: EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. my child takes a long road trip, she craps her brains out. I'm talking total epic explosion that requires an entire outfit change and possible a scrub of the car seat.
I site as an example my latest trip with her to the Sterling Renaissance Festival. The drive there, wasn't too terribly long, it clocked at just about two hours. But here's pretty much how it went once we got there:
We caravaned in two sets of cars. Total of six people including baby. Plus we were meeting two more at the gates. So the five adults get out of the car and start changing into their costumes. I start the process of unload and setup of the stroller. And then I notice the wetness. I'll spare you specifics, but it was BAD. And yet at the same time wholly expected from my child. So I do what any parent would do...spread out a mat and lay her down on the front seat to change her.
Except she's wiggling, gets a foot in it and proceeds to smear crap ON my seat. And the ties of my blouse keep falling INTO it, so I have poop on my blouse. And then, for good measure, I get a streak of it down my arm while trying to contain my baby which has turned into a flailing poop-smearing octopus.
And my phone is RINGING OFF THE HOOK.
I'm going to preface this: I love my friends. And the friends we were supposed to be meeting at the gate weren't quite getting the seriousness of the situation via text. So while texting them that I have a "situation" with one hand (the aforementioned shit covered arm) I'm talking AT my phone "I'm covered in shit I can't get to the 5 mile an hour sign dammit!!"
So I get the diaper on the baby while she's caterwauling her FACE OFF and proceed to scrub at my shirt, my arm and the seat with baby wipes. And promptly, on the first diaper change of the trip, use up ALL the wipes in my travel container.
Tip #1: However many wipes you THINK you will need, triple it.
I learned that months ago so I actually brought a FULL SIZE tub of wipes to refill the travel pack through the trip.
Tip #2: Bring TWO garbage bags. One for dirty diapers so they aren't just rolling around in your car/diaper bag. And the other to lay on the seat so as to avoid the shit-finger-paint.
I forgot them both. Shame on me.
So, I eventually get the kid into the stroller. And get myself out of my clothes and into costume, and by this point, my blood pressure is a little high.
I can't FIND ANYTHING.
I have so many bags with me, and everyone wants to get a move on that my brain is racing along at about 80 miles an hour with an internal monologue of
Alley are we ready?
No. I can't find my baby's sunglasses.
Tip #3: Attach cords to everything.
The sippy cup and snack cups were both physically attached to the stroller so I would have a harder time loosing track of them. But things like sunglasses and car keys get tossed into the diaper bag and inevitably sink to the bottom so you never find them when you are looking for them.
So about this point my friends are REALLY anxious to get moving and start shutting my car doors and I start flipping out because
WHERE THE FUCK ARE THE BABY'S SUNGLASSES???
Bottom of the fucking diaper bag. Of course.
Tip #4: Attach fucking cords. To fucking everything.
So by the time our rag-tag motley crew of people hit the gate, my blood is boiling. I just feel cranked up to 11.
Tip #5: Bottled water.
This is for you, ideally you should sit down and drink some. But there was no sitting. Because our group of friends broke off into fragments and we all had somewhere to go.
Now about this point in the program I should have said "Fuck all y'all I'm sitting my ass down before I have a heart attack". Or at the very least a polite "Um, I need to sit down before I FALL DOWN..." but I didn't. So shame on me. So we keep walking.
Tip #6: Take rests when you need to. You are no good to your baby dead.
I didn't follow this tip.
So we walk. And it's ball sweat hot. And I'm in FAR TOO MANY clothes...
(Tip #7: Dress accordingly, also did not follow)
I start to get dizzy. And feel sick to my stomach. Because my blood pressure is still rattling around my ears. Seriously that poop bath totally screwed up my groove.
FINALLY we sit down. I'm REALLY dizzy. I'm wheezing. I'm pretty sure I'm about to throw up. And I look over at the baby...
and there's poop.
Splattered across the side of the stroller.
So even though I JUST sat down for literally the first time in hours, I had to stand right back up and walk to the car because I *knew* I would need some space and time for this operation.
Tip #8: Park close.
So I walked BACK to the car, unlacing my corset as I went and fighting off waves of nausea.
Get to the car and do the poop/octopus/smear dance AGAIN. This time with an added bonus of having to scrub off the stroller seat. And AGAIN using every single wipe I had in the travel case up in the process(see tip #1). I will spare you the details, but I dry heaved it was so bad.
And at THAT point I decided to follow tip #7 and stripped off the costume and put my aforementioned poop shirt back on with shorts.
Seriously, don't ever try to look nice AND travel. Just give up. Fellow parents that have DONE the "No Don't Smear That There!" Tango won't judge you. I promise.
I get the kid BACK into her (newly cleaned) stroller and realize that both her sippy AND snack cup are empty.
Tip #9: Bring extra everything.
Refilled both cups. Took a deep breath. And started walking. AGAIN. And I'm not ashamed to admit, I cried a bit on that walk back into the park. I only had about a dozen wipes left out of the ENTIRE TUB I had brought with me. I don't even know what I'm going to do if she decides to let fly again. AND I have a three hour drive home ahead of me. Which even at the point I was at, shaking and crying, I knew I couldn't leave just then. I HAD TO CALM DOWN and...
Tip #10: Feed YOURSELF.
Self explanatory. I was fucking hungry. At this point it was almost two in the goddamn afternoon.
Tip #11: FEED YOURSELF AND SIT DOWN. Again, you are no use to your baby dead.
About this point in the program I was finally at the "fuck all y'all" stage and sat my happy ass down for two hours eating and watching shows.
It was fucking brilliant.
And believe it or not, my day got better from that point. Who knew??
But a few more little tidbits.
Tip #12: If outside, bring a blanket.
Because eventually, and who can really blame them, your bundle of love is going to want OUT OF THAT STROLLER ZOMFG NOW!! Tip #9 comes in handy right about now when you make a small picnic out of snacks.
Tip #13: Find a way to bring them down a notch.
I did this by listening to a group singing Italian chamber music.
Tip #14: When it comes to long drives, take turns. Oh shifts.
I could not do this. I had a three hour drive home with a screaming child in the backseat on my own. Which leads me to the last tip...
Tip #15: Travel with reinforcements.
Now this list is in no way written in stone. Maybe you have a wonderful child that doesn't shatter the earth's core when they fart. If you do, please don't tell me, I don't want to know about it.
All in all, the day trip for me personally was pretty horrible. I didn't get home until after 11 and at that point I just wanted to sleep, cry and die all the same time. The last 20 minutes of the drive I had to talk to myself to keep myself awake.
And I honestly think that if I would have had another set of hands to help with things like the extreme shit wrangling, I would have been in a better mood.
Though you know what the REAL kick to the pants was?
The kid had a great goddamn time and sacked out smiling when we finally got home.
Tip #16: Try to have a good time. And if that fails, just drink. Heavily.