We’re going to the zoo, zoo, zoo!

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So traveling with kids.  Let’s talk about it for minute.

I used to travel for work ALL the time.  I could pack in 10-15 minutes.  I could get from my house through the airport and to my gate in 90 minutes max.  I never checked luggage.  Oh, and I got to relax and read on the plane.

NOT ANYMORE! 🙂  Now I have to start packing weeks in advance to make sure I have everything I need for the upcoming trip and that it fits.  We have to schedule a car service if flying and if we do not have enough adults to hold all the babies, then we have to arrange for car seats.  When we went to Hawaii over Christmas, we needed an extra car for our 14 (yes 14) bags.  Four of those bags are just for the two strollers and extra seats.  Two were for my parents.  That leaves eight full of diapers, food, bottle, formula, toys, and extra everything.  We leave for the airport 2.5 hours before our flight and found a wonderful company that assists us through the airport to the lounge and then our gate.  It is a process.  Plus, we are their constant source of entertainment for the entire flight.  Forget enjoying a meal, reading, or taking a much needed nap.

Now I always said that my choice to have multiple kids would never take away from us being able to give them all the experiences I had growing up, especially traveling.  So we brave it.  And the kids are actually all really good travelers.  Except when it comes to sleeping.  At home, they sleep a solid 12 hours a night.  On vacation…not so much.  They were maybe 7 months old when we went to Hawaii and everyone ended up having to sleep with a baby the entire trip.  They refused to sleep in their portable cribs.  Fast forward to Easter in Santa Barbara.  Nope.  Almost 1 year old and Marcus and I have all 4 kids in the bed and did not get much sleep at all.  So, I decided that before heading to Cabo in August, we would take a little mini trip down to San Diego and see how they do now that they were almost 14 months.

We drove down to San Diego which is about a 3 hour drive and they all did fantastic in the car.   It was about 1pm when we arrived at the San Diego Zoo and they loved all the animals.  We got to our hotel, the U.S. Grant, around 6pm to give us time to rinse off, change and go downstairs for dinner.  Now they were wonderfully accommodating and set us all up in a private dining room and they kids all sat through an almost 2 hours dinner and ate very well.  So I thought, hey, super smooth so far and they have to be exhausted so we’re good!  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Now I don’t know whether it’s a new environment or that they are all constantly teething now, but Quinn refuses to sleep in a portable crib but he also will wake up if you have him in the bed (I think he gets too warm) and then he lets loose a blood curdling scream.  When we just had Kai, there were two of us and one of him.  He always slept between us and if he got up, one of us would rock him back to sleep and that was it.  Now when Quinn lets loose, there are 3 other kids in the room.  It is instant panic mode.  You do not want the other babies to wake and cause a chain reaction.  In San Diego, he woke up Rowan (who does NOT like to be woken up…not sure where she gets that…lol) who in turn, lets out a scream of her own.  Vivi and Kai were angels and slept through all of it, but Daddy and Papa once again did not get much sleep.

We did SeaWorld on the way home the next day and again, the kids were fantastic and loved all of the sea animals.  We did not see the Orcas out of principle, but we pretty much saw everything else.  And I will say, not having to deal with formulas or bottles anymore is a game changer.  It’s one less suitcase to pack and they can eat packs on the go in between meals.

So…wish us luck for Cabo next month.  They are now able to walk so they will want to be up and down the aisles of the plane and don’t understand why they have to stay in their seats for takeoff and landing.  Bless my mother for getting them all Fire tablets on Prime Day.  It should be enough to distract them temporarily.

One last little tip or piece of advice to all the parents out there who think traveling is just too much.  When you (and your children) look back on their life, you are not going to remember your child throwing a fit on the plane.  You won’t remember the stress of losing one in the airport for a split second.  Lost or delayed bags will be a distant memory.  Even the lack of sleep for the entire week of vacation will not matter.  The memories you make on those trips though will be remembered forever and they will shape the adults your little humans end up becoming.  I know schedules are easier, monotony prevents chaos, but what kind of a life is that?  Push yourselves.  Teach your kids that sometimes, the most difficult things are the most rewarding.  And get out there and travel.  Expose them to other cultures, different ways of life, people who grew up drastically different from them.  They will be better for it.

 

I walked into Kai’s school today and he was outside on the playground with two of his friends. Neither one looks like him. One was a boy. One was a girl. Not only does that not matter, it’s not even a thought to any of them.

The pure joy of them just holding hands and playing in a circle stopped me in my tracks. I would normally just stand there and take it in but it was too precious not to capture and share.

As a father, I never want that to end. (I just started to type the word unadulterated. I know the typical usage and definition but is it not interesting that I was about to talk about unadulterated joy and I literally mean joy that has not been tainted by adults). My goal is to keep that unadulterated joy from becoming, well, adulterated. We, as parents, and just adults in general need to be hyperaware of what we do, what we say, and how we act around children. We need to present the best parts of ourselves and let the negativity dissipate with our generation.

Now I cannot control other adults and I definitely cannot control all of the different media that my children will be exposed to during their youth (though I will do my damnedest…and I am pretty savvy when it comes to technology). I can however do my best to keep their original coding intact and try to undo any outside damage with positive reinforcement at home.

I believe everyone, even if they themself had a tough childhood, had those moments of our joy that they still remember to this day. If you’re reading this, try to find those memories. And I challenge you, if you have not made a new one in a long time, go make one. Let it remind you how small most of the things are that we let weigh us down. And, for me, let it make you consciously, fully present when you are around young impressionable minds.

Let the kids believe in magic. Let them think this world is and can be better than it is…and just maybe, they will manifest that reality.

Childhood Joy