Traveling with small children

(Let's pretend the house is clean, the laundry is done and the children have not watched 4 hours of TV today. Come on, now, use your imagination!)

I recieved an e-mail from my aunt today about doing an 85th birthday party for my grandmother. This is awesome, as she totally deserves a nice dinner with her family.

The problem for us lies in the fact that Nana really isn't up to traveling and she lives in Brooklyn. I like Brooklyn. Some of my favorite people live in Brooklyn. I would love for my kids to visit Brooklyn again. BUT...

Have you ever traveled with four kids? Okay, well, niether have I but I have traveled with two and three and... ugh.

Getting ready for the trip begins about a month in advance when I go through their clothes, books, toys and make lists of what we will need to bring with us, what I need to buy and so on. A few weeks before hand, I purchase all the goodies we will need- new treats for their backpacks, food for the trip, clothes they might need and so on.

Let's say we're leaving on a Thursday. *At least* the Friday before, I begin doing laundry. Clothes I want them to wear are pulled out. I check to make sure everyone has enough underwear and if we have bathing suits and a swim diaper. If we are gone for a 5 day trip, everyone needs six changes of clothes plus jammies (and I pack extra of those for the kids who are in diapers). Sometimes I know we can do laundry; other times, I have to plan on NO laundry facilities.

ALL laundry needs to be put away. Dusting commences, as does cleaning out the fridge and eating up the perishables. Mac and cheese again anyone?

Bedrooms get cleaned, new sheets put on the bed and the day or two before we leave, rooms are military clean and toys are put away.

No matter how we travel, every kid has a backpack with toys, books, and a couple treats to snack on. They have to carry their own backpack. Everyone has a lovey, usually a toy/stuffed animal and a blanket. If we travel by car, they bring a pillow.

The diaper bag MUST have enough diapers to get us to our destination plus extra for accidents or delays. I carry a change of clothes for the babies in the diaper bag, a massive package of wipes, hand sanitzer, snacks, one sippy per sippy-taking kid, and a few items for myself, like breat pads, "female supplies," lanolin, etc.

We figure we will need two large suitcases this time. I don't care WHAT Adam says- we can't all fit into one suitcase anymore.

If we travel by car, we have sodas, water, fruit, fruit snacks, granola and candy to use as bribes. We also have a DVD player, DVDs, my MP3 player or Zune (for me... yeah, totally), and MAYBE reading material for Mommy. MAYBE.

By plane, we have four car seats, a stroller, a baby wearing device, a small amount of snacks for everyone, the DVD player, a limited selection of DVDs, the Zune (for me... yeah, totally) and MAYBE reading material for the adults. MAYBE. (The car seats come with us in the car, duh, but they aren't the PITA that they are in the plane!)

Oh, and do we need the pack and play?

So now we are at Wends. The night before, all kids are put to bed in clean jammies and Adam and I pack the car. When we travel to WI, we leave at butt o'clock, letting the kids sleep in the car.

By plane, we are up and dressed and heading to KCI hours before our flight. (Our guess is that it would cost 4-6 grand for all six of us to travel to NYC.) We have to deal with uninstalling car seats, unloading the van, keeping track of kids, checking in and going through security to make sure my (will be) 19 month old isn't carrying scissors.

And if you have to potty... use a diaper. All of you. Adults included!

(Actually, I understand and don't mind security but it is a pain!)

In the plane, we have to strap kids into their seats, deal with ears popping, boredem, potty breaks and entertainment while trying to squeeze into the bathrooms to help them, paying 10 dollars for a glass of ice water and changing diapers in my lap. And pppplleeeeease don't blow out!

Now to CHANGE PLANES!

Let's pray the plane is on time. I give a whole day for travel and we if arrive in time to do something in the evening... bonus.

We would have to rent a car and we can no longer split a rental with someone or mooch off one of my cousins since we all only fit in a mini-van.

The hotel... checking in isn't a big deal, although when we travel by plane we have more STUFF since we can't leave anything in the car. However, getting kids to sleep in a hotel or any strange location... not easy. Also, we need a larger room with a bed, a pull out couch and room for a pack and play. I think this summer the boys will share a bed, the baby will be in the pack and play and Camille will be on the floor. Adam and I like to think we'd share a bed but, honestly, Cheesie will likely end up with me, Camille somewhere and Adam in the car! (I'm kidding about the car thing- I think.)

Then there's the cost of food. Most hotels have a free breakfast. Lunch and dinner are not free. Snack time might be free, IF we brought enough snacks to last us the (theortical) four days we are gone. That is harder to do with plane travel but not with car travel.

Okay, have you stopping twitching yet?

After a fun filled (in theory) four days, we head home. Let's add another day for travel with kids coming down from sugar and fast food highs and having their every whim induldged by grandparents, great grandparents, assorted aunts, uncles, cousins and two parents who need them to sitdownbequietstoprunning and staywhereyouare.

And let's pray the newborn is a good traveler who handles new people and faces well!

Okay, now I am twitching!

We get home to a nice clean house (see! Method to the madness!) where I have to wash four days worth of clothes, unpack and put away new toys or clothes, have the kids unpack their backpacks, clean out the car, get the suitcases put up and detox everyone from getting their every whim catered to, fast food, junk food, no exercise and probably too many DVDs.

Did we have fun?

Yes, we had fun with the family (in theory). However, I think 2008's back to back traveling in July and Aug is too fresh in my mind. Plus, after the birth of every kid I have had something MAJOR happen. At 6 weeks PP, I traveled with newborn JOseph to a wedding in WI. (Best trip, actually, because he slept alot and so did I- in the car!) At 6 weeks PP with Camille, I went to my parents house and then at four months we went to a wedding in Brooklyn. (Camille was a horrible traveler but did hold it together for those two events!) At 6 weeks with Georgie, I was packing up a house to sell. This birthday party will happen 8-10 weeks PP with Cheesie... and I honestly don't know if I want to travel. I want to GO but I don't want all the work. We MIGHT be able to afford for me to go, with the baby, but I don't know. It would be nice to not have to travel... but, like I said, I'm delusional.

(At least I know it, though!)