Traveling with your kid: Managing the Crazy

  Traveling with kids SUCKS! It's horrible. I absolutely want to take adventures and see the world with my child, but let me be honest by saying that I'm literally praying daily for someone to invent teleportation or the "beam me up" situation from the Star Trek. TSDSTTR PA062 Before I had a child I would say I was an expert traveler, I had packing down to a science, and the ability to travel anywhere at anytime.  Now? Oh, how the game has changed my friend.  As a person living with anxiety I really don't enjoy the traveling with my kid in tow.  It freaks me out!  I need lots of time to prepare, pack, repack, panic, and repack again.  That usually helps me control the anxiety, so needless to say, I'm pretty good at it.  Here's what we so to get through it.  ***Note this is for ONE parent flying with ONE child.***

His Carry On: (Boy 3 1/2 years old): Pick a backpack that has plenty of room but that your little one can wear or even better a rolling back pack like the ones from Pottery Barn Kids that they can pull around behind them. In quart size ziplock bags separate the small toys, crayons, etc so that you can not only see them but feel them while you're searching thru their bag for them because they just can't (ugh.) Grab a few brand new Grab and Go fun packs from the Target dollar section or the Dollar Store.  Get one new decent sized toy that kiddo has never seen before but really likes (i,e. a Spider-Man or Barbie, or an Imaginext) this way they have a surprise that will keep them preoccupied for part of the plane ride. On this trip we're trying a new Disney Star Wars kinetic sand playset...it may be a disaster, but he loves them and it will keep him entertained (wish me luck.) image   I swear by the iPad mini, but make sure you have enough memory to download a new movie and maybe a few episodes of their favorite show, just in case there isn't any wifi.  Other Apps to consider are VUDU, Disney Anywhere, Netflix and YouTube Kids for wifi hotspots or even use your phone as a hotspot for driving. Snacks: just a few so that they can grab it themselves. I pack 1 Pirates Booty, 1 Veggie Stick, 1 Annie's fruit snack, and one small pack of cookies or graham crackers...but here's the thing if you run out of room just grab some snacks after you get through security.  We usually find hummus packs, yogurt, a bagel, or pick up a smoothie at Starbucks. Pack a hoodie, an empty water bottle, some toddler flushable wipes, a spare pair of underwear and a wet bag or gallon size ziplock bag for any accidents that could occur.  Don't forget their blanket or favorite stuffed animal for comfort.

My Carry On: I carry a pretty big (but very chic) back pack.  I don't do the tote bags because they tip over, can be reached inside of and they pull one shoulder down or slip off and just make your life a little more unbearable.  A backpack makes your hands free to hold onto little ones and a rolling suitcase.  Keep liquids to a minimum (if any at all) and contained to a quart size ziplock or clear makeup bag.  I pack a few daily wear contacts, mascara in travel size, hand sanitizer spray, lip balm and a good tinted CC cream (you can buy anything at your destination that you may need beyond the bare essentials.)  I highly suggest skipping the laptop computer if you can and investing in a good tablet that can replace it while you're traveling.  I love my iPad Pro and found it at a good price at Costco! You won't have to unpack the iPad's at security so that totally rules.  Grab a comfortable, light and versatile cardigan for the air conditioning and a bonus is that it can double as a blanket. Lululemon or Three Dots make great ones.  I pack a compact cross-body bag in my carry on.  When I need it on my trip it's there but one less bag to sling around my neck at the airport.  You can even store your wallet, keys, and sunglasses in it and ready for when you get to the hotel.  All you need accessible for travel is your photo ID, boarding pass (which you can put on your phone now), cash and your phone.  Hello! That's why I suggest a backpack  plenty of little pockets for that crap.  Remember to bring a snack for yourself, a refillable water bottle, toothbrush,  antibacterial wipes, facial wipes (please don't confuse the two...ouch) and your phone charger.  In fact, most of the time I only carry the USB cord to save room because you can plug it into a hotel TV or charging station at the airport.  Most places have joined the tech revolution and have USB ports for charging now.  We only need one cord for all of our devises.  A good pair of ear buds or headphones just in case you can manage to catch a movie or listen to your tunes if kiddo falls asleep is a bonus.

What we pack in our Carry On Size Suitcase: Basics and favorites.  For a 4 day trip we need to keep it simple.  Anything longer try to see if laundry is available.  I only fly with a carry on suitcase.  I almost NEVER check a bag.  I can't stand waiting for it to get off of the flight and such, and for us that has added an extra hour stuck in the airport and not on our way to the fun stuff.

For my little dude:  I pack sunglasses, a baseball cap, 4 pairs undies, 3 t-shirts, one collard shirt, 2 shorts, 1 pant, 1 pair of pjs, one swim outfit, 2 socks, 1 pair of sneakers, 1 pair flip-flops or crocs. (Remember the hoodie in the carry on.) Roll each outfit together including undies.  Stick socks into shoes.  Anything over that is too much probably.  Lay it all out and see if you can edit or combine outfits to make even more room.  Here's where you can get them involved....have them pick out the clothes they want to wear.  My son hates to wear a collard shirt or anything dressy so I have him help me choose his outfits.  I have a higher success rate when his opinion has been factored in.

For me: I can get away with dresses for day or night and simple sandals.  For a 4 day trip I do denim cutoff shorts and 2 cotton tank tops, cotton sundress, simple black dress that can be worn day or night, white jeans with a grey or black cotton t-shirt, maxi shirt and white tank top and one basic black bathing suit. (Remember you have a cardigan in your carry on bag for layering.) Do your self a favor and just leave the crazy big platforms and whack ass fancy heels at home, girl.  You won't want to be burdened with them in your bag.  Simple black sandals, comfortable flip-flops, one pair of comfy pjs, however much underwear you feel you need, and 2 bras should be sufficient. You can wear your sneakers to travel in.

Consider shipping: Diapers, liquids, bulky items and extra clothes can be shipped to Grandma's, but you can also check hotel policy and for longer trips this is super simple and easy to do and just makes dealing with checked bags a thing of the past. Hallelujah!

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What we're wearing to fly: Gone are the days of dressing to the tens for airline flights. Boo can wear his favorite t-shirt, comfortable cotton shorts (with pockets if you can,) crocs and a baseball cap.  I always travel in black leggings, cotton tunic style t-shirt, 'no-show' socks and Adidas sneakers (preferable black and white because they go with all of my other clothes.) I wear a sports bra to travel in just in case I get the ol' frisk and fondle by the TSA agents.  A baseball cap always is helpful so that you don't ruin your blowout by pulling your hair up and wasting that time an energy.

Airport Tips: Buy snacks and fill water bottles after you get through security checks.  Make sure you are early for flight times...and by early I mean like an hour or more kind of early.  You have no idea how long the lines can be, who will need to pee or poop (which with a newly potty trained kid can take some time) and it gives you plenty of time to make sure you can check in at the gate and let them know your needs to pre-board.  A few times I have been lucky enough to upgrade seats to first class or business class on the cheap so look out for these options.  Trust me, they call it first class for a reason.  I don't like traveling with a stroller or car seat.  It's just as easy to rent if you need to.  Try finding a car service that supplies the seat.  You'll have to buckle it in but that's old hat for a seasoned parent.  Less is more here, people.  I have been known to buy a cheap umbrella stroller at Rite Aide or Target in desperate times, but I prefer not to relive those.  Once you've been seated on the plane make iPads readily available along with water bottles and blankies.  Sometimes the pilot will let the kids see the cockpit which is pretty cool and totally take the flight attendants up in the little wing pins...cause that's about all that is free on an airplane now.  Also, if you can allow your little one to sit in the window seat you'll be happy to have that entertainment but if not the middle seat will do and if the person next to you is annoyed offer to buy them a drink.  This is real life and in real life kids travel so we all have to deal with it.  They can be nice or go to sleep.

Many trips will be taken, many people will be annoyed by kids on an airplane...even in a train or on a boat...it all sucks.  But for us it's about memories.  Try to be prepared, try to keep your wits about you, try not to over pack or over stress (like I have a tendency to do) and remember to have fun.  As much as we hate the travel grind the kids can't help who or how they are and most of the time they're more well-behaved than the adults.

Good luck and ALL Love,

W and B

 

"The Incident" Part Two: How to survive dealing with a toddler in a Spica Cast...

IMG_1078 I know what you're thinking by seeing the picture above. You're thinking "how in the actual f*&% do you survive that on your toddler?" Well, I am here to tell you that you can and you will...if you're ever faced with this like I was.  Boo's spica cast ran from chest to toes with a big bar between his knees.  There is an open hole in the cast large enough for his "little man parts" and "toosh" to be exposed for "bathroom purposes" (I will explain diapering below.) Remember, boo's leg break was a spiral fracture of the upper femur, a pretty sever break, so the cast kept any rotating joints from moving and disrupting proper healing.  They did place him under anesthesia to put on the cast.  We had no issues with that at all, thank goodness.  After the cast was on, the most important thing is to try to keep it clean and dry. That seems like an impossible chore, but trust me it can be done (for the most part.) We had to deal with our spica cast for 10 weeks, and if that doesn't seem like enough of a nightmare, the healing after is a whole challenge in itself.  I will also explain how we recovered from cast removal and rehabbing little man in enough time for the ever important SUMMER CAMP!

**Ask for two things before leaving the hospital: A wheelchair and a specialized car seat. The hospital may have resources where these can be donated to you only for the duration of time the cast needs to be on.

First thing's first: DIAPERING!

When Boo's cast went on we were potty training. We decided to put that on the back burner.  Heres how I would diaper him to keep him clean, dry and healthy. **You may find yourself diapering a lot more than you used to before that cast, that great! Keeping the little ones hydrated and their tummies healthy is an important part of healing. Boo did not feel like eating much at all the entire time he was in the cast which is very normal.  In the future I will post a blog on smoothie recipes that keep Boo full and happy.  We lived on these for the 10 weeks during the cast.**

  1. Create a diapering area on the floor. I used his old crib mattress but you can use an old changing pad as well.  This worked better for us.  I could diaper him, sponge bathe him, "dress" him and brush his teeth all while sitting and not throwing my back out.  (These casts are heavy and you'll be carrying them everywhere when they aren't in the wheelchair so save yourself the pain of a back injury.)
  2. Supplies: 2 different size diapers: I used a size 3/4 diaper and a size 6 diaper, AquaphorHonest Soothing Bottom Wash, wipes, and Moleskin Padding
  3. Place the the moleskin padding around the edges or the opening to prevent the cast from rubbing on the skin. (Your nurse will help you in the hospital. But it's nice to have replacement moleskin for cleanliness.)
  1. Tuck the smaller diaper back to front into the hole in the cast.  Make sure the diaper is tucked in as for as it will go into the back and front to prevent any liquids from touching the cast.
  2. Place the large diaper over the other diaper and securing over the cast.  The double diaper ensures dryness also looks ridiculous, but it works.

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Bathing a kiddo in a Spica Cast:

I felt like this was very important to keeping our "nighttime routine" of dinner, bath, pjs, bedtime in tact. We did this on his diapering area.

  1. Warm bowl of water
  2. Johnson's Washcloths
  3. dry hand towel

Using the bowl of warm water, wet the washcloth and beginning with the head wash kiddo and dry each area one at a time.  Face/ears, neck, chest, arms and arm-pitters, hands, then the diaper area, then…last but not least…stinky piggies.  This cast is going to get dirty (despite all of our best efforts, it does and it SUCKS) but keeping their skin clean in paramount to good health so just try your best here.  The Washcloths are also helpful in washing kiddo hair, but we didn't need to do this more than once a week, given nothing weird ended up rubbed all over his head.

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Keeping kiddo entertained:

i propped Boo up on the couch with a series of pillow configurations that worked (it took a while to figure this out, but you will) and purchased a lap tray for playing Playdoh, legos, coloring, etc.  Also, we have an iPad mini that was essential.

I used the wheelchair for meals, snacks, a change of position, etc.  By placing two pillows (one to sit directly on and one to rest his back against) I created a more comfortable sitting position for him and used this travel tray to place these amazing PB Kids plates.

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Like I have said.  You make it work.  My ways may not be exactly what you need to do for your situation, but trust me, I tried a many different solutions only to end up at the point where i had finally found what worked for Boo and I ran with it.

I actually took Boo to Walk Disney World while he was in the cast and it worked out pretty well.  it was a short and sweet little trip and Disney made the whole experience very special and happy for all of us.  I will eventually post a "how to" on Disney with the cast and Disney without the cast.

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Healing post Spica Cast:

Don't be shocked when the cast comes off…I was.  Your child will cry so have Motrin on hand at the doctors office.  I used the special car seat on the way home.  Remember, your child will feel very strange after the cast comes off so offer lots of snuggles and prepare for a long day ahead.

My sons skin was raw and red and it looked horrible. it was very itchy!  I coated him in organic coconut oil with a drop of lavender oil added in for good measure.

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Once he was home I got him into a luke warm bath to clean the areas well.  He had a hard time sitting up, just a heads up.  But he was extremely happy to be angle to get into the bath again!

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Walking was very difficult at first.  I used this Pewi YBike to help him move freely and regain strength in his legs and some confidence.

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The key to our rehabbing Boo was swimming.  The day after his cast came off I got him into the swimming pool.  He was intimidated at first (which was new for my little fish) but once he realized how great it felt he became more comfortable and was smiling in no time.

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Just remember that before it gets better , it gets harder.  It takes a lot of physical and emotional work for these little guys to regain their full abilities.  He would walk perfectly one day and the next day be unable to stand.  You've got this! Just breathe and allow them to work at their own pace.  Our doc didn't not think we needed the physical therapy so I was left to figure it all out on my own.

I really hope that this post can help someone navigate the world of what its like to deal with a situation like this.

Good luck and much love!

-W and Boo

"The Incident"… Part One: Emergency Preparedness Like a Boss!

So long story, very short: In March of 2014 "Boo" fell at a playground and broke his leg.  To be exact it was a spiral fracture of the upper femur bone.  Why yes, that IS the biggest bone in the body.  And YES it is extremely scary to have a then 25 month old in an emergency room for 5 hours, only to be transferred to a larger hospital for surgery in the next morning.  Surgery.  That word made me want to vomit and punch someone all at the same time.  It was only until I was told no cutting would be involved that the 'punchy' feeling subsided a little.  Luckily, we have access to the best children's hospital in our area and everyone treated my little rebel like a Jedi Knight.  Largely, the hospital experience pretty much sucked.  Your stressed and tired and extremely emotional.  I have to say this, a huge shout out and lots of hugs an thanks your have to go to the incredible staff at Florida Hospital for Children. All of the docs and nurses were amazing and totally put us at ease (well, as much as they could.) IMG_1070

It just so happens we had been traveling earlier that month by car down to the Keys and I had packed an emergency roadside kit for traveling with toddlers.  It was still in my car! Needless to say, I literally always have it with me now.  It has a permeant home  in my vehicle along with an additional "go bag."  I think this really was what helped keep my sanity. Our first night in the hospital was a long one and I found the kit to be a total life saver for both of us, but looking back on the experience now I know that had I not had some forethought in packing these things the less focused I could have been on all of the commotion happening around us and keeping up with the utter chaos of having a kiddo i the hospital really is for a parent. I just cannot tell you how much my heart goes out to all of the parents that have to deal with this as their "normal." I just kept saying to myself "it's just a broken leg, its just a broken leg, thank God it's just a broken leg."

You should know this about me: I'm a research junkie.  I am totally addicted to Pinterest and I Google things constantly. So when it was time to take a 5 hour road trip with my Mom and Boo I was looking for ideas of what could make the ride feel less like hell on earth and more like a slight pain in the ass.  I am also a planner to the Nth degree and prefer to have a solid plan of action laid out before me, rather than jump into too much blindfolded and head first.  You never know whats going to happen when you have child.  I mean, really…how many times have you been caught out without a diaper and wipes or a change of clothes and then IT happens and when IT happens IT happens all over you, your child and any innocent bystander or freestanding objects within a 100 yard radius? Yeah…A LOT.  So, i really wanted to avoid this and by being over prepared i was able to turn this unmitigated disaster into a somewhat bare able situation.

So lets get to it.  Here's what i packed as an emergency kit that then turned into my hospital surveil kit.  As a bonus, I'll also throw in what I pack in my regular "go bag." Both of these things have come in handy on multiple occasions. Remember this is just for one toddler and one adult.

  1. Honest Company Hand Sanitizer
  2. Tylenol or Motrin and measuring cup
  3. Anti-"bad tummy" meds like Pepto
  4. BAND-AIDS
  5. 2 Diapers or pull on training pants and a travel pack size of wipes.
  6. 2 spare pairs of underwear for kiddo and one for grown up (better safe than sorry)
  7. Tiny Portable Humidifier
  8. Benadryl or any other allergy meds etc.
  9. A 2 day supply of any supplements you and your family may take regularly. We like Zarbee's brand.
  10. Travel pack of tissues
  11. Aquaphor has multiple uses
  12. Arnicare is great for bruises and bumps
  13. small pair of scissors
  14. wash cloth
  15. a toothbrush and toothpaste for each of us
  16. electrolyte packs for water like NUUN
  17. spare plastic bags
  18. a kitchen size trash bag
  19. Boogie Wipes
  20. Sunscreen (we LOVE MD Moms)
  21. These are really handy! Johnson's Head-to-Toe Washcloths
  22. lavender oil (great for stress relief)
  23. Kids plate, spoon, fork, and cup
  24. and some travel sized paper towels
  25. phone charger
  26. batteries (2 AA, 2 AAA)

I pack all of this into a clear plastic tub and it never leaves my car.  I cannot tell you how useful this has been.  Not only in our worst times but in some of our best, too.

Bonus: "The Go-Bag"

This idea came about AFTER "the incident" and now I swear by it.  I keep a tote bag packed and hanging somewhere easily accessible in emergencies.

  1. kiddo cotton pj's (we love Hanna Anderson)
  2. adult change of clothes (think yoga pants and a cotton t-shirt)
  3. kiddo socks
  4. adult socks
  5. umbrella
  6. phone charger
  7. non-perishable snacks
  8. brita water bottle
  9. crayons
  10. grab and go fun packs
  11. Honest 3 in 1 Facial wipes

I try to separate and pack things into gallon size baggies.  This makes it easier to use what I need and leave the rest and to repack for the next outting or emergency.

I am taking suggestions to improve the emergency kit and go-bag, but I hope you find this helpful and i really hope you never have to use it in a circumstance like we did.