We’re back from our two-day trip to see family for Thanksgiving, and as usual, we’re all having our post-travel hangover. None of us travel well. Even the things in our house that don’t travel – our two cats – don’t do well when we travel. They generally get mad and pee on something while we’re gone.
I think people don’t appreciate the level of preparation that’s required to make traveling the least stressful experience possible for our kids. J-Man does much better than he used to with travel, but it still throws off his routine, pretty much nothing ‘works’ the same way, nothing is in a familiar place, and he definitely gets on average two or three less hours of sleep per night when we’re away from home.
Our sleep formula when we’re traveling? Completely exhaust him (which means keeping him up way past his normal bedtime) so he’ll crash and sleep in a strange bed. Whee…
While neither of us like to drive – to put it mildly, especially on four-hour car trips like this one – I think it’s at least as tiring, if not more so, to maintain near-constant awareness of how J-Man is doing and handling the day so we can adjust accordingly if we need to. I know we probably over-obsess about it, but putting forth that level of effort in general is why he’s doing so well these days and why traveling is less of a disaster than it used to be.
I think he finds it reassuring that he knows he can count on us to help him out while we’re away from home if he needs it and serve as a safe, ‘home base’ when he feels overloaded. We bring familiar, favorite toys, videos (Rachel!), and books and that makes him feel more at ease. I get to where now that I can sense things heading toward chaos from a mile away and stay ahead of it before it happens.
Still, all that attentiveness takes a lot of energy. Mind you, it’s energy well spent in my opinion. It’s just hard to maintain for long periods of time. Two or three nights away seems to be about our limit.
He appeared to fall asleep in the car on the ride home, which never happens so it’s a sure sign that he’s exhausted, but it only lasted for about 37 seconds (seriously). It’s like he caught himself going to sleep and was all, “I’m not sleeping! You didn’t see that!” Argh.
I think we have travel now to the point where it’s about as good as we’re going to get it right now. It’s tiring, but we at least get to see family and we get through it well enough.
Of course, there’s the whole thing about what we’re going to do when we have to take a second kid along, but we ain’t even thinking about crossing that bridge until we get there…