Do you ever feel like you just say no all day long? I hate hearing it come out of my mouth almost as much as Ez hates hearing it. Ez is handling our nomad life like a champ for the most part but the meltdowns have slowly been increasing daily. The great nightly teeth brushing battle, for example. I've completely given up on the idea of making it through a complete day without losing my patience. My new goal is just to replenish my patience quickly and move on. So while I don't have much advice for long term travel with a toddler, these are the tips that seem to help us.
Pick my battles. I know this is old news and sounds obvious, but it's easy to sink into a routine of wrestling with your toddler over every little thing. And when I say you, I mean me. So lately I've been trying to say yes more. I've heard tales of parents that only say yes to their kids for a day. I'm pretty sure that idea wasn't meant for toddlers though. Obviously teeth brushing is non-negotiable. But for other things, like dawdling at breakfast or spending a little longer at the park, if Ez plants his feet and decides he's not leaving, I've been giving a five minute heads up, and then settling down to really enjoy those last five minutes before we head off to the next task. This hasn't eliminated meltdowns, but a lot of times Ez will happily move on. And that's a whole lot better than trying to transport a flailing angry toddler.
One on one time. Declan and I have all kinds of built in time together because he nurses all day long, but getting time alone with Ez takes more effort. We're six weeks into this parents of two thing, and as I learn to adjust my expectations accordingly I'm figuring out that one on one time doesn't have to be elaborate. As much as I would love to spend an entire afternoon alone with Ez, for now a few minutes here and there makes a huge difference in Ez's attitude. Whether it's sitting on the ground doing puzzles for a few minutes while Declan naps or extra snuggles before bed.
Keep some semblance of routine. Unfortunately our routine became pretty nonexistent late in my pregnancy, so I've had to improvise. We did bring a few familiar toys and movies, which has helped. What works for us is getting out of the house before naptime. Somewhere Ez can run around while I push Declan in his stroller. We like the park, the book store (with the toy trains), the mall playground, and the splash pad. As crazy as it feels to head out in public with two fussy kids, a change of scenery usually turns all of our cranky moods around. And if I'm really lucky they both fall asleep in the stroller. That's the stuff mom dreams are made of.
Ask for help. I've been lucky to have lots of help while we're visiting with family, and it has made all the difference in the world. Ez is sufficiently distracted and entertained which means I actually get to shower daily and blog every now and then.
Embrace the chaos. Jump on the hotel bed. Eat extra dessert. Explore new parks. Crack open an ice cold beer for no good reason (this one's for the parents). Even though we're not technically on vacation, we may as well embrace being away from home and live it up.
Take it from Frozen and Let it Go. Buttons get pressed. Tantrums get thrown. Patience gets lost. Just move on quickly and laugh about the craziness. If you need help laughing about parenthood just look up Jim Gaffigan or Louis CK. They totally get that toddlers are crazy (lovable, but still crazy) and it's always nice to know you're not alone.