Elyse Lalonde has always called Saskatoon home. She started on the motherhood journey in the Summer of 2015 when she had her son. Elyse is a working mom, always seeking a fine balance in life with a busy toddler. As a MommyConnections “alumnus,” she enjoys socializing with moms and babies her son’s age. Elyse has always enjoyed writing and journaling, and hopes to share her experiences (good, bad, and sarcastic) with the online parenting community in Saskatoon.
Ah, vacations. The desire to see and experience new things! I have, and will always have, a bad case of the travel bug. I’m not going to lie and say I don’t miss the days of travelling without a child. But those days are gone, and now that we are a young family, I want to take the adventures to a new level. Even if it means changing my expectations on what a “vacation” looks like.
We’ve done two big trips with our son that have involved airplanes, taxis, hotels, metros, buses, ferries, and rental cars. Complete with museums, kid-friendly play centres, beaches, restaurants, and pools. At the end of the day, it’s all fun! But, in the same day, there is also stress and exhaustion and frustration and the same question that comes to mind– Why do we choose to do this?
Here is the summary of the stages that are involved with travelling with your young child:
Stage 1 – Excitement – This is the fun part, where you will review and book the actual trip itself, including the painstaking selection of hotels, activities and flights with decent departure times (see how this potentially goes out the window in later stages). Joy, contentment and excitement are the feelings here, and you can’t wait to share this little adventure with your little one!
Stage 2 – The Packing – Double—no, TRIPLE checking everything, packing too much, going overboard on snacks and toys and clothes. The detail here does not go unnoticed—you find marvelous ways of shoving stuffies and trucks into tight spaces within your suitcase(s).
Stage 3 – Travel Day 1 – Excitement meets motivation, as you get your butts out the door and move past the fear that you’ve forgotten something important. Extra patience and tolerance come to the forefront for dealing with your child’s behaviour, good or not so good, as the first day of holidays finally takes hold. Although day 1 is a busy day, your energy is high and positivity is flowing!
Stage 4 – Reality – Surprise! The patience you had yesterday for your child is about to dwindle quickly, as your toddler is going to act, like… well, a toddler. Ain’t much changes between home and the hotel. And unfortunately, your parent “spidey” senses are going to be off the wall for a while, as you frantically monitor your child’s every move on a busy street corner or metro station, where you yourself are trying to gather your own bearings. You explore for the day, and retreat to the comfort of your hotel where at least your child is somewhat restrained and safe and not attempting to lick the hand rail inside a bus. You wind them down with a calming bedtime routine and bath and think to yourself that you’re really looking forward to that quiet time when the kid is asleep and oh crap, he’s just licked the hotel bathtub. Gross!
And tomorrow, repeat.
Stage 5 – Acceptance and… the end! – Your motivation changes on the last day of the trip to that of “okay let’s try to get back home in one piece” and you push your way through the long day, the delayed flight (best laid plans), the toddler meltdowns, all with your suitcases that are now chaotically pieced together (the marvellously organized packing techniques from before are long forgotten).
And yet, within the expected chaos, there is the acceptance of all the good and bad that you’ve experienced within the short duration of your holiday. And this is why we repeat stages 1 through 5.
There are moments of stress while travelling with children, there’s no doubt. But there are also moments of pure awesome where the effort in bringing your child to a crowded museum or play space is rewarded, when a simple statement like “This is so cool! This is so interesting!” is uttered with a smile or a giggle. You may even get your own moment or two of relaxation in the form of a hotel pool or hot tub, or in taking advantage of meals made for you by way of continental breakfasts or restaurants. This may not be the vacation dream you once had, and sometimes it may feel like these great moments are few and far between, but by the last day of holidays, you reflect and confirm to yourself that this trip was worth your while.
Learning how to be outside of your comfort zone while fostering a sense of adventure is what travel is all about. Travel builds resiliency, a sense of exploration, and curiosity about our world. And that is a lifelong trait that is worth building within your child and yourself.