We traveled to Colorado for Christmas. It is February and I can finally talk about it.
Taking a road trip with your children across the country should be punishment for stealing. I have met some people who really enjoy long car rides with their children, but I’ve also met people who think that jumping off a cliff with only a rope tied to your ankle is a good idea.
Over the holidays, my husband and I decided to drive with our two children to Colorado to visit my family. Which was akin to deciding to journey through the depths of Hell to spend some days staying with Satan himself and eating his pot roast. I have a large family—seven siblings—the majority of whom would be at my parents’ house along with their children and partners. My family is a lot like the Waltons, if the Waltons liked to yell, criticize each other’s hair, drink a lot of wine and play really tense card games late into the night. So, nothing like the Waltons.
But it’s family and it’s the holidays. And one day science will find a direct link to eating too many cookies and forgetting that your family is insane and wanting to go visit them, but this is not that day. So, we left at two in the morning the day after Christmas.
Leaving early was my husband’s idea. At some point in the parenting process, my husband became a dad, a real dad, with tools and ideas about how money should be saved and travel should be undertaken. Many of these dad ideas coincide with frugality and “beating the crowd”, which are also true Midwestern values. And in accordance to those values, my husband likes to urge me to leave halfway through the Fourth of July fireworks because we need to “beat the crowds” and he cautions me against buying off-brand shampoo when I could just add water to the dregs of my Suave body wash and use that for my hair.
So, it should come as no shock that he planned on leaving at two in the morning, so we could save money by doing the trip to Colorado in one day and “beat the crowds.” Although, unless he meant cattle or the smell of cow farts, these “crowds” never did materialize.
It was just us and our kids at two in the morning pulling out of Cedar Rapids, miserable and tired. The plan was that our children would sleep for the first leg of the trip. This did not happen. Instead, they both screamed for an hour and a half, just long enough to give me a migraine. When they did sleep, they slept for another hour and a half and then they were up.
The number one way to get your kid to sleep in the car is to not want them to. I desperately wanted my children to sleep, so they stayed awake engaging in activities like crying, demanding snacks, dumping snacks on the floor, demanding that I pick up the snacks from the floor, crying when I explained that mommy’s body doesn’t bend that way and no, she can’t get that goldfish in the wheel well.
Like all modern parents, we had gadgets and videos to lull our children into technology induced comas. But the baby wasn’t buying it and my three year old did not appreciate the fact that “bubba” was “frowing all his trucks” at her.
I began the trip totally against the idea of drugging my children with Tylenol to make them sleep. But by the time we stopped for lunch, I bought Tylenol and extra strength migraine medicine for me. “They have headaches, right?” I asked my husband.
“Sure,” he nodded.
That was all I needed.
By the time we got to my parents’ house, all nerves had been soothed by an elixir of drugs, candy and brand new snacks.
“How was the trip?” My mom asked.
“Just perfect,” I said pulling a goldfish cracker out of my hair. “Where is the wine?”
On the way home, we did the trip in two stages, neither beating any crowds or saving any money. But it was worth it.