With the Holidays in full swing, we are entering the busiest travel days of the whole year. Hopefully you can learn a little something from us and the mistakes we made on our recent impromptu road trip. This is a long one friends, but I hope you’ll settle in for the ride.
To preface this informative post, I think it’s important to note that I am a relatively new first-time Mom. After 15 years of marriage my husband and I had less than 24hrs between finding out our daughter existed and bringing her home at 2 days old so that she could enjoy the parenting skills we hadn’t yet researched. Kid free and carefree to keeping a tiny human alive all within 24 hours! We aren’t special. Parents have existed for millions of years. Which means that parents making terrible choices has also been a thing for millions of years. Which also means I’m not the first Mom to screw up or make a series of bad decisions! I’d also bet that I’m not the first wife to induce consistent eye rolls from her husband. There’s a pretty good chance you’ve already lived through the hell I created, especially if you have more time under your belt as a parent than me. Or maybe reading further could potentially save you from having the worst day of your life. Or perhaps it may save you thousands of dollars in couples therapy.
We recently decided to do a last-minute trip home to Texas from Colorado, with a One year old. A very active, opinionated, and independent one year old. It’s important to understand that she doesn’t like to do anything other than what she wants. We made it to Texas unharmed and in one piece by choosing the “leave while the baby sleeps” strategy. It worked out great except we were both exhausted by the time we made the 12+ hour trip. Fortunately, we had family there to intercept so we could rest up, but it still took us 24hrs to completely recover which ate into the precious limited time we had with our family.
That brings me to the life altering decision I made for us to leave early morning and drive all day when it was time for us to head back to Colorado. The “grass is greener syndrome” got me here, without a doubt.
The plan was to get on the road at 4am and drive all day. In a perfect world we would arrive by 5pm, eat supper and head to bed at a decent time so we could start the next day home in Colorado, fresh and happy. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world, with a perfect baby, and perfect parenting skills. Did I mention we also had 3 imperfect dogs in tow? We like to live on the wild side.
My day started at 2am. Why 2am? I have no idea. It was dumb, and I’m sorry for doing it. At 3am I woke my super excited husband up, and at 3:30 my kiddo was up with a smile, which was promising. I handed her off to her Grammy who tried to force her to eat per my instruction. She wasn’t having it, but who eats at 3:30am? I don’t blame her. At 4am I announced I was going to try and poop. (I know, that is a shocking husband and wife role reversal. We like to think of ourselves as a progressive couple.) By 4:10 my feet were starting to fall asleep and I decided it was a lost cause. At 4:15 I did the walk of shame out of the bathroom, already 15 minutes past our predetermined departure time, and in an effort to deflect my shame I sternly announced to the room that we were already late and needed to get on the road as I pointed to my watchless wrist. I found my watch, and then we loaded everyone up and said our goodbyes.
My husband does all of the driving. I feel like it’s a small sacrifice to make to ensure we stay married for as long as possible. By 5:15 we were making our first stop at Buc-ees because we were all hungry and I had to poop. If you’ve never been to a Buc-ees you are missing out. It is my favorite place to stop in Texas. They have so many yummy things to eat and just about everything you could want in home decor. It’s a convenience store on steroids. We walked in the doors and I threatened my husband by saying he better not get anything with hot sauce. I said something about how his stomach couldn’t handle it in his old age and we had a schedule to keep, and I refused to stop every 30 minutes for him to use the restroom. I realized the irony as I walked to the Buc-ees bathroom. I was successful in my second attempt of the morning, Thank God. I left the restroom and we got gigantic delicious breakfast burritos and ate in the car.
By 5:50 am we were back on the road. By 6 my daughter and I were sound asleep, snoring, and my husband got to experience the only peace he would get for the rest of that day. At 8:15 I woke up and announced urgently that I needed to use the restroom again. We found a nice clean place to stop. Star Travel Center off of highway 287, just outside of Dallas. The restrooms were clean, and if you are looking for a place to stop, I’d definitely recommend it. You can also pick up a “Texas” souvenir, as they have all things Texas there. Including giant cheerleader bows. As we walked in the door I told my husband I was feeling lucky and asked him to buy Lottery tickets for the mega millions drawing that night. He also bought some specialty beef jerky that he loved. We did a diaper change, and I took the dogs out to use the restroom. I was feeling particularly masochistic and took all three at the same time against the advice of my husband. This did not work out in my favor and I quickly returned to the car with 2 of the dogs so I could take them out one by one. He gave me a look, but at this point in our marriage he knows better than to throw an “I told you so” my way. I knew what he was thinking. After our not so quick 45-minute pit stop we got back on our way. It is 188 miles from my hometown to the Star Travel Center. It took us 4 hours and 45 minutes to get 188 miles. Now I’ve never math’d well, but I’d say we were making pretty crappy time. That almost 5 hours would set the tone for the rest of our road trip.
We spent the next 2 hours daydreaming about our potential lottery win and arguing about how we would spend the money. When we reached Wichita Falls, TX I broke it to my husband that I had committed to stopping at a couple of stores to look for specific Rae Dunn pieces for a friend. Apparently, the selection in Colorado stores isn’t as good as the selection in Texas stores. He reluctantly detoured to T.J. Maxx and I ran in “quickly” to do a sweep of the store. I briefly tried to explain to him what Rae Dunn is and why it was important. My explanation didn’t entice the excitement I was looking for, so I shifted the conversation back to the millions we were likely to win that evening.
As we approached Amarillo we were all getting hungry again. I found a Jason’s Deli that was conveniently located next to a T.J. Maxx, so we could eat. I then, in an effort to distract my husband, picked up a couple of cupcakes at a local bakery next door. The cupcake gesture threw him off his game just long enough for me to get him to agree to stop at a Kirkland’s that was on the way out of town. If you are ever in Amarillo and are a Rae Dunn fan, Kirkland’s had a large selection. At this point I realized I forgot to get a fork for the giant, not so great, but satisfying cupcake I purchased. I asked my wonderful but very “country” husband to experience World Market for the first time so he could buy me a fork, while I tended to the baby. Let’s just say he wasn’t grateful for the “experience” but he was extremely grateful to be back on the road again.
At some point between Amarillo and Dalhart I fell asleep. I abruptly awoke to the sound of our precious angel demanding that we give her to another family. We spent the rest of our trip stopping and starting again so we could console her and keep her happy. I cried, the dogs cried, our daughter cried, and at one point I’m pretty sure I saw a single tear falling from my husband’s face. We arrived at our home in Colorado 17 hours after we started our trip, a trip that normally takes 13 hours under the cover of night. We got home just in time to get settled in and learn that we did not win the Mega Millions and I then had to break the news to my friends that they would have to pay me for the Rae Dunn I purchased for them. It was officially the worst day ever.
Here are a few things to consider before deciding when to leave on a road trip with your family.
- One-year-olds are not physically, or emotionally mature enough to eat in their car seats. If you leave during the day plan for extra time to stop so you can feed your kiddo. Regulation states that you have to provide food for them when they are hungry.
- Burritos though delicious add to the number of bathroom-breaks you will have to take.
- One-year-olds have the attention span of a gnat. If you must travel during the day, and you cannot break your trip up into shorter increments, make sure you bring lots of things to entertain your toddler.
Most importantly, a tip from my husband.
- Absolutely under no circumstances listen to your wife when she declares that traveling during the day with her and a toddler is a good idea. The only way to ensure a peaceful, and successful road trip is to travel while the baby and the wife sleep.
Happy Trails and Safe Travels this Holiday Season Friends!