My trip to Texas taught me a lot about how I’m going to approach travel with young kids for the next few years. There are people who take their children to Disneyland, and talk in glowing terms about nothing but the smiles and laughter and first encounters with characters who previously existed only in a virtual world. I know that a trip I took to Disneyland with young kids would not be summarized with a Pollyanna attitude. There would be meltdowns and missed naps and obscene amounts paid for messy popsicles in the shape of Mickey’s head. I don’t generally consider myself to be a negative person, but when it comes to parenting I have a hard time managing my expectations and the trying experiences are what often stick in my memory.
Speaking of managing expectations, I didn’t manage mine very well for the first portion of our trip, spent in Austin. I was meeting my parents there while they were on a business trip, and staying with two young kids by myself in a hotel (my parents were in a separate hotel, a 5-minute walk away) was a lot harder than I thought it would be. T1 saw his first 3D movie with my parents and I’m happy about the little bit of time they were able to spend together, but that’s something I won’t be repeating again until both children are self-sufficient.
Traveling with young kids means making-do without the arsenal of resources that helps make parenting manageable and enjoyable. After two days I left Austin and drove over to Houston to spend a week with our closest friends from Chicago. When I got out of the car and hugged Paige it took a lot to hold back the tears – I was overwhelmed with relief to be in a kid-friendly environment with my friend who I can 100% be myself with. We didn’t have anything except the mundane planned for my stay. We went to the gym, made meals from scratch, traded off childcare responsibilities as we ran errands, and stayed up late into the night painting our nails and talking about our husbands.