You’ve been waiting for this family getaway for months, planning, packing and anticipating a few days of relaxation and family fun. You’ve packed your bags, checked your lists and have declared that your vacation is ready to begin!
ACT ONE: THE ROAD TRIP
You tumble into the car, the iPod queue is loaded and you’re off – woohoo!
Family sing-a-longs are the best! From the Frozen soundtrack to The Sound of Music, you’re all singing merrily, taking in the landscape that whizzes by outside the window.
Halfway through the Frozen soundtrack, your newly potty-trained toddler yells that he has to use the potty. This is something to be taken seriously, so you and your partner begin weighing your options: pull off on the side of the road (because that’s totally a right of passage) or try to make it to the next rest stop (Shit! Did you see any rest stop signs?). Just as you start to panic, you see that a rest stop is just two miles away (thank you potty fairies!).
Somewhere around hour four, you roll into your hotel’s parking lot and check in, road-weary and ready to crash in an air-conditioned room.
ACT TWO: THE STAY
You’re tired, but your toddler is just getting started, having stored up energy over your four-hour car ride. Your husband stays with the car while you attempt to check in; your toddler runs through the lobby like a Tasmanian Devil on Pixie Sticks.
Room keys in hand, you head back to the car to park and unload. The staggering amount of gear you have will require TWO trips from the car to the hotel. Said trip from parking garage is a hike, spanning two buildings, two elevator rides and several long hallways.
FINALLY, you can relax in the comfort of your hotel room.
Toddler proceeds to try out each bed and piece of furniture by jumping on them. Repeatedly.
In a misguided frugal attempt, you passed up the suite for the studio hotel room; this means that your toddler will punish you for not being able to sleep in his own room.
Give yourself a pat on the back for getting so much exercise on vacation – FitBit says that you’re a ROCKSTAR climbing floors! You’re momentarily crushed when you realize that your FitBit is reading your elavator rides. Womp-womp!
Your toddler’s anthem takes on a Beastie Boys theme: No. naps. ‘til home.
No naps means a wired munchkin constantly asking for adventures, even when you’ve just arrived at the hotel room after an all day adventure. Crying and hysterics commence (and it’s not just the toddler).
Stop checking FitBit sleep stats because it’s depressing and making you more tired than you already are.
By day three, you’re giving in to your toddler’s terroristic demands. Cookies for breakfast? Sure (I mean, how much worse could it get, right?).
Driving around the city for naps and nights, in an effort to get your little one to GO. TO. SLEEP. has logged almost as many miles as the trip out here.
Your reflexes are delayed, due to your increasingly fatigued state, which means your toddler has run into an open elevator at least once [without you].
By the end of your stay, caffeine no longer has any effect on you, well, except to make you even more tired.
ACT THREE: THE DRIVE HOME
You tiredly lug all of the crap you didn’t use and pack souvenirs (that you’ll be tripping over in no time) into your overstuffed car.
You slap a diaper onto your toddler a la Lisa Nowak – you’re not in the mood for any impromptu bathroom stops or accidents.
Toddler stages a sit-in on the hotel room floor, refusing to leave the room he has hated all week. You bribe your toddler with a sugary treat to get him to leave the room; you’ve broken all of your “no sugar” rules on this trip, so why not continue in the same vein?
Toddler proceeds to squirm and contort his body in an effort against being strapped into his car seat. You and your partner take turns “giving it a go” and you finally get the no longer non-violent protestor secured into his seat.
Sweaty from the car seat battle, you and your partner climb into the front seats and blast the AC to cool down.
First stop is for coffee. Bucketloads of coffee, bathroom stops be damned! Must have coffee to make it home.
You set off down the highway, the quiet atmosphere in stark contrast to the jovial singing on the way there. Your toddler falls asleep for his first nap of the week, just five minutes from the hotel.
Once it becomes evident that the coffee is not working, you turn on the radio to YOUR station – First Wave on XM – and are surprised to find that you, once again, relate to the melancholic sounds of The Smiths and the Cure – the anthem of your youth (the lack of sleep is making you weepy).
Your drive home takes an hour and a half longer, as every other family has decided to pick this day to come home. As you’re inching forward in traffic, your toddler begins screaming – GET. ME. OUT. OF. THIS. CHAIR. You begin to panic, as much as your dulled senses will allow, when you realize you still have over an hour left until you reach home.
In a stroke of genius, you remember that there is a kid-friendly movie downloaded on the iPad for such emergencies! You have another 45 minutes of silence before the screaming commences. You pull of your exit and can’t believe your luck – not a single red light on the way to the house!
You unload the car and the kiddo only to find that the small rash that appeared on his face that morning has turned into an angry red galazy, stretching across his entire face, forehead and behind his ears.
You give the toddler a quick bath and check Google to see if any Urgent Cares are open (it’s now 7:30pm on a holiday). Score! You drag your toddler into the Urgent Care and are relieved to find out that his throat won’t close during the night, but a little alarmed to find out that said rash might be the start of Hand, Foot and Mouth.
Exhausted, you climb back into the car and call the friend you had spent the last day with, warning her to look out for signs of HFM with her own kids.
Exhausted, you arrive home and your toddler beams the biggest of smiles at you and tells you that he loved the adventures of the past few days. You fall into bed with a warm heart, the vow you made to never vacation again [until the toddler is 18] is already slipping away…