If you know me, you know that I adore my children and husband. However, having 3 kids is never easy - I knew it wouldn't be and I never, ever regret having 3. But sometimes, like yesterday, the first day of a 3 day trip to Boston, my nerves are tested to a point where I actually look into booking a separate hotel room for myself. I may have done this last night at a point of desperation.
My kids are privileged to be able to stay in hotel rooms sometimes. They are lucky to have been traveling to Europe since they were infants, and Puerto Rico, and a lovely Disney cruise for my parents' 40th anniversary. We don't travel in luxury, but they GET to travel. One day, they will have enough perspective to appreciate this (that is the hope, anyway).
We came to Boston for a special event: my mother is being recognized as a Distinguished Alumni at the Boston State House. We are going to a nice luncheon. Everyone will be dressed up. Everyone better behave or I might actually lose it.
So as my eyes opened this morning after a very restless night, I thought of some advice for parents who are thinking of traveling with their children soon. I think when you have 3, it makes for a special explosive dynamic, and when the oldest is the know-it-all 14 year old, and the oldest AND youngest AND the dad have ADD and the middle child gets frustrated by all of it and feels lost in the shuffle, it's especially fun. Maybe this only happens in my family and you have excellent traveling stories with your children.
But if not, here are some tips for the future.
1. Stay at home.
Seriously. This might be the best option.
If you are flying, book yourself a first class seat and let the kids fly coach. If you can afford it, buy a ticket for a nanny to travel with you and sit with them (I honestly know someone who did this).
If you're driving, take 2 cars. Let your husband drive with the kids. Drive in your own car, blasting the Go-Gos or salsa or rap or AC/DC, or whatever music makes you happy, and sing as loud as you want to. Prepare your nerves for what is to come.
3. Get yourself a separate hotel room.
Set everyone up in their room, and then say good night. Retire to your room, and if you thought ahead, you will have a bottle of wine ready in your room - my friend Heather never travels to hotels without one. In the morning, when you go see the kids, hope that they have made it through the night in one piece. Open the door to their room and announce in your cheeriest voice, "Breakfast!!" and begin to sing "Oh, what a beautiful morning!" as you whip open the curtains. Then say you will meet them at breakfast, and leave. By the time they get down there, you will have finished a peaceful breakfast and can head back upstairs, leaving them to figure out the waffle iron, and letting someone else deal with the spills.
4.Leave the kids in the hotel room. Go visit the city, walk as much as you want without hearing whining, and visit every museum you would like to, stopping for coffee and pastries or cocktails in between.
5.If you take them with you walking through the city, walk 20 paces ahead of them, with earplugs. Or just completely ignore all complaints about tired feet and hunger. Answer everything in your cheery voice. This will most certainly piss them off.
6. If they make you crazy, give them all the silent treatment. For the whole trip. I tried this for 2 hours last night and it scared them, at least.
7. If you are out with your kids and they act out, pretend they are not yours. Watch them from a distance, shaking your head and frowning.
In all seriousness, though, I hope that with each trip, my kids appreciate traveling more. As they get older, it does not get easier, I have to say - it just changes. When they were little, it was all about changing diapers in the tiny airplane bathroom, or worrying about their feeding and sleeping schedules. Now it's a whole other animal. Even with their own electronic devices and a baggie of snacks, there are things to fight about. My favorite latest thing is the hotel safe: they have a competition as to who can take the most washcloths and put them in there, and figure out the new combination.
I'm hoping today will be a better day. Maybe our special event will be more conducive to good behavior. Maybe the wonderful, nice, caring, beautiful qualities my kids have will shine through.
Or, maybe we will get kicked out of the State House. I'll let you know.