My husband would tell you that I have an insatiable travel bug. I start twitching on the inside if I haven’t gone somewhere for a few months.
We also have three young children ages 5, 3, and 18 months. This makes traveling look WAY different, but we still do it. Just because you have kids doesn’t mean you have to stop exploring the world.
Here are things to keep in mind when embarking on a trip with your kids.
Go outdoors. Nature is a huge playground to kids. Take them on a hike and they can find sticks, throw rocks in a lake, race to a tree, climb on a boulder, and see wildlife. The outdoors are free (or super cheap), there are usually no lines, there’s nothing your kids will want to buy, and your rowdy toddler can’t break anything (besides a bone or two).
The time before they can run away from you or give an opinion is a prime time for a trip. Most people go into lockdown mode when they have an infant but I am here to tell you, 7 months and younger is the easiest lap child you will ever have. Another plus to traveling at this age is that they (usually) fall asleep anywhere still so you can wear them/push them and GO.
Renting a house is the way to go for longer trips. Airbnb and VRBO have some great places to stay at affordable prices. This way you can spread out and not be sharing a room with your child(ren) and you have the added convenience of a kitchen. Do you know what happens when a small child wakes up in a hotel room? Everybody wakes up. The last time I shared a room with my 5 year old I discovered that she talks A LOT in her sleep and it is frequently directed at Mom so this did not equate to a restful night sleep.
YOU CAN TAKE KIDS SOMEWHERE OTHER THAN DISNEY! I’m yelling this because I don’t think it gets said enough. Disney does a fantastic job of marketing and making you believe that this is the ultimate vacation for a family, but I’d argue that there are much better options out there for a young family. You can go a lot of places with the money that a Disney Vacation would cost you (Europe, if you are super thrifty). Also, if you haven’t been to Central Florida before I have some news for you, it’s really hot and humid. The fact that I already live somewhere that is hot and humid (Houston, TX) probably adds to the fact that I have no desire to make a lateral move in terms of heat. There are also a lot of lines at Disney World. For everything. I’ve waited in a long line with a one-year-old before, now I have Amazon Prime and I get my groceries delivered through SHIPT because it is literally the worst.
So say yes to the trip, because you and your kids aren’t going to tell stories years down the road about that one night you stayed home and watched Netflix.
I’ve birthed 3 humans. I’ve been pregnant 3 times. When you go through a pregnancy there are a few different ways that your body can react.
Scenario 1: You could go on “I didn’t know I was pregnant” as a guest. You somehow, against all odds, don’t look pregnant at all. When you tell people how far along you are they are utterly shocked because there is no way you could be 38 weeks because you look like you just ate Thanksgiving dinner, not a bowling ball. You get maternity pictures taken because you are still cute. Your OB talks to you about gaining more weight and you have no idea why people equate pregnancy with swollen ankles. You, my friend, are an anomaly in nature.
Scenario 2: It’s obvious to strangers that you are pregnant…but only when they see you from the front. You gain the suggested amount of weight steadily throughout your pregnancy and you look like your usual self with a basketball underneath your shirt. People say things to you such as “you’re all baby” or “I couldn’t tell you were pregnant from behind.” Also, super lucky.
Scenario 3: You are pregnant everywhere. You are pretty positive there is a baby in each of your thighs at this point and you aren’t sure how those babies are getting out of there. Your face looks like a perpetual allergic reaction for the last 3 months of your pregnancy which makes random strangers offer you Benadryl. You laugh when people ask if you if you are doing a maternity photo shoot because why would you want to look at this down the road? You go to your Doctor’s appointments in the least amount of clothing possible and your lightest pair of shoes, which you still take off for your weigh-in. At this point the comments you receive are along the lines of “Are you sure it’s not twins?” or “I think your Doctor got the wrong due date” or “Wow” or even worse, complete silence. I feel you, I’ve been there.
After your darling, fat-producing, cuddly baby makes their entrance into the world the real fun begins. Losing the baby weight.
For scenario 1 and 2 people this comes pretty easily. Breastfeeding (if you decide to nurse), some walks or runs, and not eating entire cakes by yourself will pretty much do the trick.
With my first pregnancy I was a scenario 2 person. I gained 40 pounds. I was also 27 at the time so my metabolism hadn’t completely flown the coop. I even wore a bikini that summer after having a baby in March (not normal). I ate M&M’s while I would breastfeed. I’m a runner so I did that but I didn’t go nuts about it. It was easy. Looking back, ridiculously easy.
Then I got pregnant with baby number 2. I became a scenario 2 and 1/2 person with this pregnancy. I gained 50 pounds this time around. Losing it was more difficult. Some factors that made this more difficult would be that I had 2 kids to manage at this point, I could no longer do any type of jumping in my workouts, and my metabolism had started packing its bags because I was 29.
I ran on occasion, I ate M&M’s, and I drank beer. This combination is not a winning weight-loss strategy by the way.
I rationalized that I was breastfeeding and that is pretty much like running 5 miles a day so surely I could still eat food I liked and not workout every day of the week.
All it really took was the realization after about 8 months of this that I needed to run more and drink less beer for the weight to eventually come off.
Then I got pregnant with baby number 3. This pregnancy was all sorts of scenario 3. I gained 65 pounds. I ran until I was 32 weeks pregnant and I didn’t eat entire boxes of donuts…but the weight just kept coming. My maternity clothes from previous pregnancies didn’t fit by the time I hit third trimester. I’m pretty sure someone was injecting fat into my salads. I was 30 this time around. My metabolism didn’t even write me postcards anymore from wherever it went. We had a great run together but it just wasn’t enough to keep her around.
After I gave birth to my cute little fat producer I was on a serious mission to get back to pre-pregnancy weight. Here’s how this went:
Five Weeks PP (Postpartum): I went running. It hurt real bad. Not like hurt my uterus, but my knees. Understood why overweight people don’t go running for exercise.
Two Months PP: Signed up for a half-marathon that was 4 and 1/2 months after I gave birth. Figured there was no way I could run 13 miles while overweight. Stopped buying M&M’s.
Four Months PP: Ran half-marathon. Ran really slow. Found out that you CAN run 13.1 miles while 30 pounds overweight, it just hurts real bad.
Five Months PP: Worked out like a crazy person. Not losing weight anymore.
Six Months PP: Still on plateau of weight loss. Not sure what to do since this has never happened before. Start googling adult beverages that contain fewer calories than beer.
Nine Months PP: Come to the stark realization that I can’t consume bread, pizza, dessert, pasta, beer, or anything delicious anymore. Start eating salmon and vegetables most nights. Husband is bored with menu at home. Start losing weight again.
Ten Months PP: Look into options like the 21-day-fix. Decide I probably shouldn’t cut that many calories since I’m still nursing. Still have 15 pounds to go.
12 Months PP: Kept nursing through the Holidays purely because it burns calories. Got rid of clothes that used to fit but don’t because there’s no reason for them to take up closet space anymore.
13 Months PP: Stop nursing. Decide to do a 3-day juice cleanse to kickstart some weight loss. Nothing happens besides being really hungry and using the bathroom more often. No change in weight.
16 Months PP: 10 pounds left. Wonder when the statute of limitations on the phrase “baby weight” occurs. Think about writing to my metabolism to see if there’s any chance it’s coming back.
The moral of this story being losing weight after 30 is the worst. Also, M&M’s won’t help you lose weight, you’re welcome.
You just brought home your new bundle of joy! Congrats! Being a new parent is a whirlwind of emotions and can be quite overwhelming at times. There are so many books and resources out there that you may have read about your new baby, but there are some things people leave out when they talk to you about having a new baby, let me fill you in.
Your belly is still going to look pregnant. It does go away eventually but for the time being avoid brutally honest preschoolers or that Uncle that thinks he is hilarious. “Yes, I’m positive there isn’t another one in there.”
Forget that you own non-maternity jeans for at least the next 5 months. I’ll tell you right now, they aren’t going to fit well. Don’t bother trying them on because it will only add insult to injury. This is why elastic was invented. Use it to your advantage.
There are going to be people that have ZERO boundaries when it comes to touching your baby. Wearing your baby is the easiest way to combat this BUT there will still be a select few (generally people you don’t know that well) that will put their hand on your child’s head, foot, etc. I have yet to come up with a tactful way to say, “Excuse me, your hand is less than one-inch from my boobs, what the heck are you thinking?” Let me know if you figure something out.
Your baby will cry and need you at the most inopportune times. For example: when you sit down to a hot meal, when you answer a phone call, or when you are in the middle of washing your hair. However there will be times when they WON’T cry: when you get pulled over by the police, when a random stranger goes into great detail about their birth story, or when it’s your partner’s turn to wake up in the middle of the night with them.
If you get invited to a trampoline park, a jump-a-thon, or a workout class that involves jumping jacks do yourself a solid and bring an extra pair of pants. You’ll understand why.
Now is the time to pick a television series to watch. If you are breastfeeding you are going to have a lot of time to sit. It doesn’t have to be child-appropriate when it is your first born because those little eyes are only seeing your boobs and their own eyelids so they won’t be traumatized by Prison Break, House of Cards, etc. Live it up now because if you have subsequent children you are going to be feeding your child while watching Curious George.
Accept help. If someone wants to bring you dinner, take it. If someone wants to fold laundry, let them. If someone wants to hold your baby while you take a shower for the first time in 3 days, let them.
You are going to know things you had no prior knowledge of. It’s weird, but Mother’s intuition is a real thing. If you haven’t been around babies much this will almost feel like an out of body experience when you start spitting knowledge of your baby and what they need. Just go with it.
They are more resilient than they appear. They won’t break by you putting clothes on them no matter how terrifying it is to pull clothes over a screaming newborn’s head but rest-assured you won’t do any permanent damage unless you are secretly the hulk. They also won’t tell their therapist when they are 30 about crying for 10 minutes while Mom finished taking a shower.
Your brain is going to go on a vacation for the next couple of weeks. I’m not sure where it goes but it won’t be with you. You may have been forgetful during pregnancy “pregnant brain”, you’ll forever have “Mom brain”, but “newborn brain” takes the cake. For my firstborn I completely forgot it was my birthday; I was truly wondering what the heck all these alerts on my phone were. For my second child at his one-week well check I left my car running unattended in the parking lot (mind you, it is a Prius and makes no noise) for 1.5 hours. Now is NOT the time to defend your thesis or make life-altering decisions.
It gets better and don’t worry, you will block out the next couple of weeks because otherwise no one would do this again. Best of luck.
My daughter, Kate, has been anticipating turning five for roughly the past 364 days of her life. Five is the fix for EVERYTHING according to her. It is when she is going to be “big”, when she is going to eat all of her dinner, when she is going to be able to run longer and faster, you name it. She has this milestone on a pedestal because this is when she feels she will have made it in life.
Yesterday, she turned five.
None of her hopes and dreams for five came to fruition.
She came downstairs that morning, sat with my husband, looked at her leg next to his and started crying because he was still bigger than she was. The fact that she was five didn’t provide any type of change she could see.
Change doesn’t happen overnight.
This rings true in every aspect of our lives. If you want to get fit; one workout isn’t going to whip you into shape. If you want to improve your marriage; one hard conversation isn’t going to fix all of your problems. If you want to deepen your walk with Christ; going on one retreat or attending one service isn’t going to create lifelong devotion.
Change takes time. Change takes discipline. Discipline means you go on that run even when no part of you wants to. It means broaching subjects that are uncomfortable with your loved ones. It means reading, journaling, and praying even when you are tired and surely don’t have another moment to spare in your schedule.
The change process is where we learn about ourselves. Are you the type that looks for excuses not to do things or do you make things happen no matter what? Taking on a new discipline isn’t easy but Hebrews 12:11 says “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
That change you want, it’s worth it. Keep going.
It is so easy to live in the mindset of the “when.” Kate’s “when” was turning 5. Everything was going to be better then. We all have these; for some it is when I get married,when I get that promotion, when I don’t have to carry diapers in my purse anymore, when we sell the house, when we go on that vacation, etc. If we constantly seek the next thing we can’t enjoy what is in front of us.
Instead of hoping for that elusive “when” in your life that will undoubtedly turn into something else; let’s embrace the process and the now that is presented to us.
Like move across the world to help Iraqi refugees big.
Like being on broadway or TV shows big.
Like being the CEO of their own company big.
I LOVE getting to watch their journeys and cheer them on from afar but at times it makes me wonder what I’m doing. Because it doesn’t look big.
When I started staying home with our kids a couple of years ago it was a weird transition. I remember the first time I was filling out a form that asked for my employer’s name and I had nothing to put. I guess I’m employed by small humans that demand snacks and poop in their pants?
I know this is a limited season of life that I’ll be home with young kids. I kind of think of it as a really weird vacation. The most stressful part of my day is getting to preschool on time (not that stressful). I get to workout in the middle of the day at the gym. I take a shower after working out and change back into workout clothes because why would I wear pants that zip in my own home? It’s awesome yet strange all at the same time.
What I’ve come to realize is that this is my big thing right now. It looks way different from other people’s big things, probably because it’s covered in fecal matter and spit up.
We are all running a race and we all have a lane we are running in. Your lane may be climbing the corporate ladder, putting out a record, making the fastest PBJ sandwich ever, or getting partner at the firm.
Find your lane. Know what works in your lane.
There are things I can’t do in my lane at the moment. There are awesome, great things I have to say “no” to because it’s not my season of life. One thing I have said “no” to is volunteering with my husband’s youth group. We have a million young kids (at least it seems like that) and it’s not the most feasible thing for me to be at every youth event. I like to think of myself as the white whale of the youth group actually. It’s ok and healthy to say “no” to things. If people don’t like your “no” tell them to step off your lane. I am thankful we are in a church that doesn’t try to tell me what should be in my lane and loves our family in the season we are in.
I’ve found my lane. It’s the loving on and playing with our young kids, working out at 10:00am, helping friends out, occasional writing, building community and supporting my husband lane.
I’m going to run like the wind in my lane. I hope you are running the race of your life in yours.
When you have your first child you have all the time in the world to focus on them and their needs. Your world revolves around them. When you have your third child things change. You are just making it, nothing is perfect, but you know that they will be just fine regardless. Here are some of the differences from when you have your first child to when you have your third child.
How you tell people your child’s age. First child you do exact months. i.e. “They are 16 months old”. This sometimes goes on until they are 2. Third child is just a rough estimate for their entire life. Their age progression is as follows: newborn, 4-months or so, 6 months I think, almost one, one, oneish, a little over one, one and a ½, almost 2, two.
First birthday party planning. First child has invites sent out a month in advance, family comes in from out-of-town, a new outfit is purchased, cake is homemade or bought from a bakery, and gifts are brought. Third child either has no party at all or has a group text sent out the day before, grocery store cupcakes, champagne for the adults because we are celebrating survival, no new outfit, and no gifts because they have all of their siblings toys and outfits and they don’t know how to open presents anyways.
Going out and about post-baby. First child you go on lockdown for a few weeks or a month because taking a baby in public is terrifying to you. What if they cry, poop, or scream in the car? I went to the grocery store a few weeks post partum with my first and I was on sensory overload from the fluorescent lights and all the people since I’d been a boob hostage in my home for a month. Third child you go out to dinner on your way home from the hospital because you know this is the easiest they are ever going to be in public. They will sleep anywhere, they can’t run away from you, and they can’t tell you their opinion yet.
Getting them dressed. First child you put them in clothes to go to the church nursery or daycare because it is daytime so they should be wearing something other than pajamas obviously. Third child lives most of their life in pajamas because who cares? Unless they are getting pictures taken or it is too hot for pajamas that is what they are in until they start walking.
Feeding them. For your first child starting solids is terrifying. I knew how to feed her milk and now I’m supposed to try something new? No thanks. They can maybe try real food once or twice a week until 10 months, then we will try 3 times a day. Third kid can be eating steak by 10 months because they have been introduced to everything way earlier.
Teeth brushing. First child has a tooth pop out and you start brushing it right away. Third child has 4 teeth and the thought has never crossed your mind to brush them. (The nurse at our one year check asked if we brushed her teeth once a day and I laughed out loud, whoops.)
Tummy time. First child you start this immediately. You follow all of the guidelines and increase their time each week because you are SO excited for them to roll over and be mobile. Third child you don’t want them to move because you know the time between rolling and walking is THE WORST. No tummy time for them because once they can roll over things get nuts. Our third didn’t have tummy time but 5 times in her first 6 months of life. She walked by 1 so I don’t think we set her back too much.
Naps. First child this is sacred time. You never wake them up and you plan your life around this. They take two naps a day for at least a year. Third child takes 80% of their naps in their car seat as they are being dragged from preschool pick-ups to Sunday school. If they are actually sleeping in their crib they will undoubtedly be woken up by having to leave the house or by an older sibling yelling.
Sugar intake. First child has little to no sweets in their diet before they turn one. The smash cake at their first birthday party is a novelty item to them. Third child has been force-fed a skittle by 5 months of age by an older sibling and has had countless bits of cookies and cupcakes at toddler birthday parties.
The TV Mom gets to watch while nursing. First child I watched all of Prison Break while I breastfed because there weren’t little eyes and ears that were aware. Third kid I watched Curious George, baby bum music videos, or Dora the Explorer because the last thing I needed was a 4-year-old having nightmares about T-Bag and Scofield.
If you aren’t the first born in your family this is why you are so resilient. You know the world doesn’t revolve around you and you have what it takes to survive, congrats.
Cooking. Some people love this. For me, it’s just something that has to happen if I want to eat. I feel like I can hold my own in the kitchen; I can throw a dinner party or cook a meal for a friend with a new baby confidently. I’m probably not going to light your world on fire but I’m also pretty sure you aren’t going to have to swing by Jack-In-the-Box later.
My mother has taught me a lot of things in life; how to spend time in the word, how to workout like an amazon woman, how to show hospitality, and how to have to good time. Something that I didn’t learn from her, how to cook fancy things. She is more utilitarian in nature as a cook. Simple, not fancy.
As a result, I’ve been completely self-taught as a cook. If google and YouTube didn’t exist my family would be living off of frozen pizza. We also don’t have cable so I have never watched the food network or anything of that nature. This has led to some embarrassing mispronunciations of common ingredients. “Quinoa” for instance is not pronounced phonetically. As a general rule, these are the types of recipes I will attempt.
It needs to have 5 ingredients or less. Any ingredient list that is half a page long…no chance that is happening.
It must have 3 steps or less. I have small children all over the place, I don’t have an hour to cook dinner.
It can only require one google or YouTube search. This is pretty much only for special occasions.
It can not be spicy. I don’t do food that makes me sweat (which my friends will tell you doesn’t take much). The other day I sampled a piece of sushi at the grocery store and it was so hot that I was sweating for 30 minutes aftwards. I almost had to leave the store because of it.
We have a dear friend, Joel, who went to culinary school. He has been having Blue Apron boxes arrive at his house for a while now (Blue apron gives you a recipe and all of the ingredients you need for that recipe already measured out). He could send a few people a free week worth of recipes/meals and he picked me. Great, right? I figured I could use some new recipes and get outside my comfort zone in the kitchen.
Last Friday our blue apron box arrived. I looked at the recipes and was immediately intimidated, probably because I didn’t recognize half of the ingredients or the names of the dishes. I texted our supper club group text (Joel included) about how intimidated I was by these recipes and ingredients. His response, “What?! They’re really easy to follow. You got this!” Easy to say for someone who goes by “Chef.”
Saturday night I decided to tackle my first meal, Sautéed Beef and Potato Latkes. Turns out that Latke=fancy word for pancake. This meal had a ridiculous amount of steps and way too much hot oil. I singed my eyelashes because if you add cold water to hot oil it pops…a lot (you’re welcome). My husband was in charge of grating an onion and he cried for 10 minutes afterwards. The meal was delicious, however quite painful and it took way longer than originally estimated.
What the meal should look like.
I attempted another meal yesterday, this time while I was solo and all 3 children were awake. I learned quite a few things during this cooking adventure.
I had no idea what a scallion was. I’ve been calling that a green onion all these years.
I learned what kale looks like. I love the kale salad bags from the grocery store but if you would have given me a quiz about which ingredients were which I would have failed miserably. I was pretty sure that kale was the long and clear stringy things in the salad bag.
My children will steal and eat an entire bag of cheetos puffs if I am distracted by foreign vegetables in the kitchen.
Needless to say, I think I’m going to stick to my 5 ingredient meals and keeping my eyelashes in tact. If you want a free week of blue apron, let me know. Hopefully you don’t discover all of your deficiencies in the kitchen like I did.