It turned out to be a crazy idea.
My friend, Amanda, is currently living in Chicago. She is moving to Miami at the end of August. Chicago is "just a few hours drive" and Miami is way to far away. So, my "brilliant" idea was to visit her before she moved away. Her husband, Drew was gone last week, posing the perfect opportunity to get some quality time in. It also helped because they have a studio apartment, and there was some more space with him gone.
So, I decided to pack up myself and Cooper and drive 7-8 hours to Chicago for 4-5 days.
Then I realized that I could stop in Indianapolis and see my friend, Erin on the way up.
Last Sunday Cooper and I hopped in the car and headed out. We drove to Indy Sunday, spent the night there, then drove to Chicago Monday, where we stayed until Friday morning. There are many fun memories I will share later, but for now, let's just focus on some things I learned while traveling for a week, by myself, with a 2 year old.
1) Younger than 2 1/2 would not be good to drive that far by yourself. Cooper is at the age where he can tell me what he needs/wants, can keep himself entertained with a toy, book, or movie, and understands me when I tell him things like "hold on, we'll be there soon". Things that helped: DVD player, snacks, drinks, books, and some toys. I have a bag next to his seat where the toys and movies are contained. The cup holder in the middle was reachable for him, so I didn't have to keep reaching back when he wanted a drink. Snacks were in a baggie or container. Know that your car will be a mess at the end of the drive. Guaranteed.
2) Be prepared when a child with "only child syndrome" is around 2 girls that are younger than him. First of all, there is a big difference between boys and girls in general. Boys, especially Cooper, are loud, loud, and louder. Boys don't sit still. Boys aren't always very sensitive. Girls (especially the ones we were with) were more quiet, content to sit, and sensitive. There were moments those personalities clashed. Cooper didn't like it when the girls would cry, and he would tell, or yell at them, to be quiet. Which, for a sensitive girl soul, did nothing but make make them cry more.
3) Be prepared for anything, resulting in flexibility. Rain, shine, cold, hot....sickness. Yep, Cooper threw up during the middle of our trip. This sickness cancelled some fun plans. One was a plan to "hangout" with my girls. So, be prepared to cancel plans to hold your child and do several loads of laundry. It also rained when we went to the zoo. Mix that with them being so over everything from the week, and you have a shortened zoo trip, seeing only a few things, and leaving before both kids and moms lost it completely.
4) When traveling with young children, slow the pace down. Amanda and I packed our days. We realized Thursday (we left friday morning) that we should have planned some down time. The kids needed the time just to chill at the apartment.
5) When you are without the help of a husband or babysitter, just a couple of days is sufficient. It's hard on any mom to be by herself with a toddler day to day. Combine that with being somewhere new and you have the perfect storm. The kids are on edge, and screaming (literally) for normalcy. And the moms get edgy, too. Amanda and I listened one night as Cooper and Addi had a screaming fight before bed. They egged each other on, and we ended up separating them completely and rocking/patting them to sleep that night. If we had just stuck to a couple of days, it would have ended much more pleasantly.
6) Enjoy every single moment. I know this blog post highlighted some of the rougher moments, but it really was such a great trip. And I will look back on the trip with love and laughter. I will look back and laugh at all the ways I had to learn the five things mentioned above. And I will look back with love of the time I got to spend with Erin & her family, and Amanda & Addison. I don't regret for a minute my decision. However, next time I have a "brilliant" idea, I'll adjust some things a little.
Here are some pictures that show you the rough parts of the trip.
The kids' faces say it all.
How's that for my 100th blog post??
Maybe for number 101, I'll post the fun things?!