The husband and I have always been keen on travel. We used to try to go somewhere new or different when we went on holiday. Not necessarily expansive or exotic, often just a bit random, but still, an adventure.
Since having the children, we have been very restricted in where we can or are willing to go. We do try to take them on adventures, but it isn't always easy.
Just before she turned one, we took The Girl overseas. When The Girl was just over a year old, we took her to a festival. A proper camping, hippie-type festival. With the dog. When The Boy was just about 8 weeks old, we did it again (what was I thinking?) Our family's live some distance away from where we live, so if we want to see them it involves us staying there or them staying here.
One of the bonuses of children is that staying away from home, even for just one night, is an adventure in itself, the disadvantage is, it's not always a fun one.
Some things I have learnt about surviving the 'stay away from home with children' includes;
The younger the child the more stuff you have to take. Honestly, it's amazing how much stuff you feel you need to take for tiny little human.I have suddenly developed the ability to pack really really light for myself. Even the dog takes more then I do sometimes!I will always think we need a bigger car.Having a small dog helps-she fits into smaller gaps!Even the simplest trips become very complicated logistically, with a baby and a toddler in tow. Bedtime. We always try to stick to bedtimes, but sometimes they have to be a bit 'elastic.'We try to time as much of the extended driving as possible around nap time. Or even bedtime. We have often put The Girl in her pajamas and set off home at her 'bedtime!'We try to get help, to visit people we know want to spend time with the kids. Or take those people with us.
That said, it can still be a challenge. I have one friend who is currently barely speaking to me because I haven't been to stay since The Girl was born. It's not because I don't want to. It's because it is just really, really difficult, especially when people are not geared up for kids. It takes up the whole weekend, because driving there takes twice as long, what with multiple stops for food and toilets or because technically the baby has been in the car seat too long.
The first night staying somewhere no one really sleeps properly, least of all the toddler, and there is so many exciting things to explore in other people's houses. Like unguarded fire places, toppleable DVD racks and reachable knife blocks. Often, we are all crammed into one room, so we have to be sure we don't need a wee in the middle of the night for fear of waking everybody up. If that should happen then for some reason sleeping in the same room as us and her brother makes the toddler very excited so it's a while before she will go back to sleep.
I now ask myself, before I plan a trip away, a few new questions.
Firstly, can I do it in a day? I will drive much further in a day now if I means I can put the toddler to bed in her own bed at the end of it.
Second, is it worth it? Sounds awful, but I seriously have to consider if it is worth using an entire weekend to visit somewhere. To spend Saturday afternoon doing something involving broken conversations and chasing children, messing up routines and having a broken night's sleep and then heading home in time to get sorted for Monday, for what? An evening meal and a 45 minute chat we are all too tired to follow after attempting to keep up with (at least) one two year old all afternoon. Not that I don't want to see people, but I'd rarther see them for longer and have a proper conversation. If I'm really lucky, persuade the husband to have the children on his own so I can attempt to hold an actual conversation with a person. Not that this has happened yet since The Boy appeared.
All of that said, we still do it. We still pack everyone into the car, dog-&-all and go to stay with people. Not as often as before, but sometimes.
In a previous life, a mentor once told me that plans always work out better if you take a risk. I wouldn't say they always work out better, but it is always an adventure, that's for sure.