Travel Preparations for Young Families

I mentioned that we’re getting ready for a complicated journey to two weddings. We’ve got a 5-year-old, a 2-year-old, and a 6-week-old baby. Even generating a packing list took all of my concentration over the course of several days. Since I already had diapers sent ahead and arranged for a pack-n-play to be in our hotel room, I wanted to share what else I’ve been doing to try to make the trip go smoothly.106089018_078d03d0d6_m

First, I made an extremely detailed packing list. If I don’t have “drivers license” written on the list, I’m not sure I’ll remember to bring it. My brain is so frazzled and sleep deprived! I can’t count on myself to remember anything right now. Then, I showed the list to my friend, who gets plenty of sleep, to see if she thinks it seems complete.

Then came all the laundry. So much laundry was involved in packing these bags! We have decided not to check anything, because that costs a zillion dollars, so while I was waiting for the washer to spin, I got all my liquids or quasi-liquids into a quart bag for easier tossing onto the security belt. When I bought snacks, I avoided anything that seemed like a liquid.

I read some other sites with tips for traveling with youngsters, but none of these tip-givers seem to have more than one child. “Sit separately so you and your partner can trade off the kiddo and one of you take a nap” doesn’t work when your family is so big you can’t even all sit in the same row! I ended up calling the airline for advice and arranged our seats so I am sitting with my infant and kindergartener and my husband is in front of us with the toddler.

I’ve been prepping the big kid that he will wear his backpack, which will hold his inhalers and the iPad, and be in charge of pulling one rolling suitcase, to which we will jigger his carseat using the latch hooks and the tether. I plan to wear the baby on my front and a stuffed-with-diapers-and-snacks backpack on my back. I will have a hand free to wrangle the toddler, who is in charge of only his baby doll. My husband will pull another rolling bag with the toddler’s seat jiggered to it, lug along the bucket seat (we’ll just do a seatbelt install on the bucket–no base!), and probably wear his own backpack. Our fancy clothes will probably be a bit rumpled when we get to St. Louis. So be it–hotels have irons!

(Actually, I’ll be updating more about this later, but my dress won’t be rumpled because of the wonderful wrinkle-proof material.)

I’ve got copies of all the kids’ birth certificates printed out and I bought them some silly putty and plastic worms at a dollar store. We have new-to-us issues of Ranger Rick Jr. for the plane and gummy worms as bribes for calm behavior in the security line. My husband has been made aware of the extreme importance of arriving at the airport with enough time for me to get a very large mocha once we’re through security. Plus time for me to use the bathroom before boarding. Use the bathroom by myself, that is. What a treat, even in a dirty airport bathroom, am I right?

The last time we flew, my boys fought each other over empty cups from the drink cart, so between those and the Sky Mall catalogue, I feel ok that I’m not bringing any toys for them. If memory serves again, the excitement of the rental minivan will keep them entertained for hours. Failing that, I’ve loaded the iPad with apps and videos that don’t require an Internet connection.

At this point, I’ve done all I can do to prepare logistically. All that remains is for me to surrender myself to the idea that all three of the kids will pee and poop during takeoff, that we will arrive stinky and covered in somebody’s spitup, and that nobody is going to sleep more than an hour at a time. If I just accept this in advance, it won’t surprise me as much when it all happens. I’ll see you on the other end to let you know how it went!

Have you flown recently with a new baby and other young kids? Leave us a comment to share your experience!

A (Rough) Day in the Life with 3 Wee Ones

5am: the baby wakes up and starts to poop, very loudly.

5:30am: he’s all done, ready to be cleaned up and looking to nurse

6am: well fed, clean, the baby drifts back to sleep just as the older 2 wake up and thunder down the hallway. They want to know if the iPad is still in timeout.

6:22am: the episode of whatever show they found on the iPad has ended, so the big boys are ravenous and start hitting/kicking each other. One of them has a pee accident on the floor. The other one poops and needs to be wiped.

7am: I’m standing in the kitchen nursing the baby with one hand and scrambling eggs to microwave with the other hand. The big boys are pulling on my pant legs telling me how badly they need the eggs, also cheese, also juice. By the time the eggs have finished cooking, they have realized eggs, cheese, and juice are repulsive foods.crying toddler

8am: my husband and I have managed to get dressed and wash our faces. One of us holds/pats the gassy baby while the other coerces the bigger children to get dressed and brush their teeth. At some point, we remember we used to make monster sounds or sing songs to make this part more fun. We half-heartedly growl at the children.

8:44am: My husband has left for work only 20 minutes late, the biggest kid has gotten on the school bus, and suddenly everything seems 86 times easier. I have one kid per hand. The middle one is so happy to look at cars while we walk home from the bus stop. The baby has fallen asleep in the carrier. A friend pops out and invites us in for tea, which I’m able to drink warm while swaying the baby. Then, the baby and the toddler poop at the same time.

9:30am: I manage to get the baby fed, clean, and into his carseat. I toss the seat and the diaper bag into the van while the toddler refuses to put on his shoes for awhile. I add the shoes to the diaper bag and put the toddler into the minivan. We are out the door on time to meet friends at the Toy Library–I still don’t feel up to taking my kids to outdoor locations, despite the nice weather.

11am: the toddler shows me he is ready for his nap by hitting many other children in the head with many hard objects. A gracious woman helps me haul my stuff, the car seat, and the limp-noodle sobbing toddler into the minivan. He does not fall asleep in the car on the way home. He weeps for a long time, and I have to ignore him because the baby wakes up again and needs to nurse and get a fresh diaper.

12pm: I convince the weeping toddler to watch Daniel Tiger and eat some bread and grapes. I sway the baby back to sleep and am able to put him down in his crib. I back slowly out of the room and tiptoe downstairs. He remains asleep! I’m able to cuddle the toddler for a bit. When he asks to nurse, I let him and he falls asleep! I slowly put him in his bed. For 20 glorious minutes, both my young children are asleep. I choose to spend the time lying on the kitchen floor eating chocolate and drinking water.

For next time: I’ll tell the story of how I tried to take all 3 of them to the grocery store after school pickup.

Do your kids ever overwhelm you? Leave us a comment to share your experience. 

Wedding Season

Many moons ago, when I first learned I was pregnant, I wrote about locating a bridesmaids dress I could wear in my sister’s wedding and still nurse my baby. That wedding is approaching! And the week before it? My husband’s brother gets married in St. Louis. 

What this means is that my family, including a 6-week-old baby, is flying to St. Louis for a wedding September 20 and a few days after we fly home, we’re driving to Philadelphia for a wedding September 27. Doesn’t that sound agonizing? I mean the 2 weddings will be fun, but the getting there and back again and then jumping back into our real lives? That part sounds just awful. 

We weren’t sure whether I would be able to attend the St. Louis wedding, but our pediatrician gave us the green light to fly with our hearty newborn and I was cleared to travel since my postpartum recovery has been going well. Now everything is a mad dash to rent minivans and figure out our carseat situation for travel.

I have 3 kids now, so I can only achieve one (maybe two!) things per day. I’ve had to break my preparation list down very carefully to get us ready. Today’s big achievement was ordering diapers (for both the toddler and the newborn) online and having them sent ahead.

Eventually I’ll have to get dressy clothes for my boys and pack and print out birth certificates and shove all my liquids into small bottles in quart sized bags. For now, I’ll stick to feeling accomplished that my boys will have dry bottoms at our destination. More updates to come!

Have you traveled with a brand new baby? Leave us a comment to share your best tips!

Adventures in Tandem Nursing

Well, it’s happening. I’m nursing both my newborn and my toddler. And it’s actually fine.

For one thing, my milk came in almost immediately after my baby was born. By the time he was 24 hours old, he had a real breastmilk poop in his diaper, which excited the pediatric resident so much she called her supervisor to check it out.

And not only did I have milk sooner, I have so much milk. So much! For the first time, my breasts are leaking and spraying milk. I can hear both kids gulping and swallowing as they nurse, certainly filling their bellies with plentiful milk.

With my oldest child, I had to supplement my milk, and so it’s hard for me to even describe how wonderful it feels to provide this much milk. We took the baby for his one-week weigh-in and he’s been gaining an average of 2 ounces per day. What a tank! I love it. It’s so empowering!

I wish I had known while I was pregnant that these practical benefits of tandem nursing would be so wonderful. I think it would have helped me feel less frustrated throughout the process.

As for nursing my toddler, right now I limit him to once a day. He asks almost all the time, but I’ve been able to bribe him with cookies or distract him with toy cars. He gets pretty territorial and upset when I’m holding the baby all the time, nursing all the day long. I think that’s in equal part due to my not being able to run around and play with him because, well, I’m stuck holding and nursing a baby.

Whenever I can, I try to find time to cuddle and snuggle the older kids individually. It sure is hard having 3 babies and only 2 arms. But we’ll figure it out.

We’re 4 weeks in to the process so far and tandeming is totally manageable. I’m still taking it day by day with no expectations. Hopefully it keeps being a non-issue!

Did you tandem nurse your kids? Leave us a comment to share your experiences. 

Feeding My Newly Expanded Family

I’ve been reading the New Leaf Wellness blog for awhile now (Kelly leads our New Mom’s Connections here at the shop and just generally has great ideas!) and was intrigued by her meal preparation before her third baby. When my mother-in-law planned a trip to see us when I was 37 weeks pregnant, I knew . . . → Read More: Feeding My Newly Expanded Family

Nursing On the Go with Older Siblings in Tow

When my second son was born, a wise mama friend told me I’d soon become an expert at nursing while standing. She was right.

I had no idea how challenging it could be to take multiple kids out in public at the same time. This challenge is magnified when one of the kids has . . . → Read More: Nursing On the Go with Older Siblings in Tow

The Family Van

Let me begin by saying I have no ties to feeling cool or hip. I don’t need my car to look good or flashy or even go very fast. But, I do prefer my car to get good gas mileage. I find it really, really awful that we aren’t doing better with fuel efficiency . . . → Read More: The Family Van