Raising Littles Without a Village

They say raising A child takes a village.

To all of you raising littles without a village, I salute you.

I understand your struggles.

I understand the exhaustion.

I understand that your patience can be stretched thin…reaaaaaaal thin.

I understand how easy it is to completely lose. your. shit.

7 days a week 365 days a year you are with your kids without the option of casually swinging by your sisters house to drop the kids off so you can have an hour alone, completely stress free. Or calling your mom up because your husband is out of town and you desperately need help.

I’ve made plenty of friends who have offered to watch the kids. But calling a friend who has their own children and families to worry about makes me feel as if I’d be putting them out (even if I wasn’t). Family is different. Family is 100% guilt free. “Hey Ma…can I swing the kids by while I grocery shop”? I wish….

Date nights.

A date night to you and your husband is rushing to get the kids to bed by 7 on a Friday night so you can turn on a movie and maybe just maybe make it all the way through without one of you falling asleep.

If you do plan to go out and end up finding a babysitter…someone you trust with your precious little angels….a $50 date night quickly turns into a $75+ date night.

On the weekends my husband and I try to let each other get a break in. We take turns taking care of the kiddos. He usually goes fishing before the sun comes up on a Saturday. On Sunday, I usually go to the gym with my girlfriend (whom I’m not sure I’d survive without). Then I’ll usually grab a coffee and run errands.

During my time alone, I have a lot of time to think. It makes me want to call up my mom or sister to come have lunch with me or walk around a mall together. The loneliness sets in. Sometimes I don’t even like to have alone time because of the sense of emptiness it brings.

My husband goes out of town for work once in a while. Everything falls on me. This is when my anxiety rises. I become extremely stressed. Changing Diapers. Breakfast. Play time. Lunch. Naps. Cleaning. Snacks. Laundry. Dishes. Wiping more asses. More play time. Dinnertime. Baths. Bedtime. Middle of the night wakings. Sometimes I am not even sure how I survive 4 days without him, alone.

And you know…It’s not only about needing the help, wanting a break, or being desperate for a date night. Its about my children growing up surrounded by unconditional love. Having people around them who would do anything for them at the drop of a hat. Spending the night at grandma and grandpas with their cousins making special memories that will last a lifetime.

But recently I’ve learned as a parent you can’t dwell on negativity or that will reflect onto your children. You have to rise above and you have to find a way to create your own village.

I am so thankful to have met a group of women I can lean on at any given moment. Some of these women I wouldn’t survive without. This group of women encourage me, they make me be a better version of myself. They make me a better mother. They love my children like their own. And I couldn’t ask for more.

Traveling with 2 under 2

Because why fly when you can save a couple hundred dollars driving 17 HOURS with two tiny tots!!! Said no one ever. But if you are that one person who decides to take a long road trip with littles, I hope this post can help you prepare a little better!

The Henry Ford Museum
Dearborn, MI

Trips like this take lots of preparation, like weeks. Unless you cram it in then it can be done in a couple of days. You have to make lists, lots of lists. I made lists for myself, my husband, my toddler, my baby, list of things I needed to drop off with the dogs at their babysitter, snack list, activity list….and the list of lists goes on…

The morning of the trip we piled everything packed by the front door, my husband and I both knew everything wasn’t going to fit.

Well, all you mama’s know how much shit you need with a toddler and a baby, don’t you?! We had two large suitcases, a bag filled Christmas gifts, cooler, pack and play, snack bag, activity bag for Owen, Activity bag for Cameron, overnight hotel bag, breast pump bag, diaper bag, stroller. Well my husband being Mr. Doitall, was able to squeeze just about everything in and with little to no bitching at how much I had packed (thank goodness). The stroller had to stay behind.

We finally got out of the house 3 hours after we woke up. You’d think with all of those lists I had written we would have been right out the door…nope not with 2 kids, mom brain syndrome and a 17 hour drive ahead of us! On a positive note, the memories we were about to make would be unforgettable.

TIP: have your car packed the night before!

The activity bag I mentioned above that I made for my toddler was filled with toys and activities he had never seen before. Here is what I included in his activity bag:

  1. Matchbox cars
  2. Crayola mess free coloring book with markers
  3. Melissa and Doug water wow
  4. Usborne lift the flap books
  5. B. Toys pull back cars from Target
  6. Usborne busy car book
  7. ipad uploaded with Blippi and new educational games
  8. Colorful pipe cleaners (because why not!)
  9. Finger puppets

The snack bag was similar, I tried to find fun new snacks…most unfortunately held little to none nutritional value but I did pack some fruit and PBJ sandwiches for lunch in the cooler! Here is what was included in the snack bag and cooler:

  1. Fruit snacks
  2. Pringles
  3. Simply Cheetos white cheddar
  4. Chips ahoy cookies
  5. Annies bunny snacks
  6. Nabisco cheese dip and pretzels/crackers snack packs
  7. Grapes
  8. PBJ Sandwiches
  9. Waters/Mini Gatorades
Oops!
Pringles errrrywhere

I wouldn’t suggest driving over 8 hours with two littles, unless you have an abundance of patience!

Staying in a hotel with a toddler and a baby can be challenging. At bedtime Owen is used to being contained to his crib. In a hotel with freedom to roam about and bountiful amounts of energy from sitting in the car we realized we were up for little to no sleep. I took the king bed in the bedroom with Cameron and Tim took the pull out with Owen. (we had a king suite hotel room which had a bedroom, it was nice! Check if your hotel has that option!) After a couple of hours, we were all finally in Zzz dream mode! Suggestions for a hotel stay with a toddler:

  1. Let them RUN, burn that energy (of course)
  2. Bring swimsuits for the pool!
  3. Bring a pack and play
  4. Put the pack and play in the bathroom at bedtime
  5. Bring books and a favorite toy/blanket

Ive personally never done #4 but I’ve heard many parents use that hack so I figured i’d throw it on the list!

Fun at the pool to burn energy!
Matchbox Car – Check!
Blankie – Check!

After we made it to Michigan the following day, I realized how much stress I had put on myself before the road trip. I was entirely way too nervous for absolutely nothing. It is what it is, if you decide to drive and take a road trip with kids…you never know what will happen! You can just be as prepared as you can be and thats it!

Time for LUNCH!

Oh and one more tip. If you need a place to stop and stretch, use the bathroom and let the kiddos have something fun to look at, Cabelas is a great spot for a road trip stop! Some even have a restaurant inside!

Cabelas – Somewhere in Illinois
I burned 800 calories a day crawling from the front passenger to the back with the kids!
Nap Time!
Me dreaming about how I wish I could put my seat back a little further.
The road trip was filled with fun memories that will last a lifetime, it was entirely worth it.
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