Some families, by necessity, started off right away traveling with their twins (and then some) – because family lives across the globe, or because work required it, or because they’re just plain crazy. As an example of the latter, a friend drove her three children – 26 month old twins and a 10 week old – to see family for the weekend. Six hours away. Solo.
Us? We live 400 miles round trip by car to get to family. And because my entire family lives in that one city, we’re the ones that have to do the traveling – about six times a year. And every time we just don’t know what we’re going to get. Sure, I’ve got a spreadsheet packing list with formulas for how many diapers and outfits to take based on how long we’re gone. (This makes it easier for my partner and my nanny to participate in getting us ready to leave town. And yes, I know that is anal.)
But I will be honest when I say that going out of town with the twins is pretty close to the bottom of favorite things to do. Why?
They hate sitting in a car. Yes, all this fostering of independence from an early age we’ve promoted, all this learning to walk by us without leashes, has produced toddlers who cannot stand to be stuck in a carseat for three and a half hours. They also hate strollers.
I’ve tried everything – making sure we have enough snacks, breaking down and buying dual monitor DVDs (it helps!), stickers, coloring books, books, toys, an iPod playlist with favorite music, and iPhone app for white noise, and knowing our one stop for a breath of fresh air and a diaper change. All those things work, but there is inevitable unhappiness, and omigod, the whining!
We’ve tried leaving first thing in the morning, after breakfast. That didn’t really work because they hadn’t run off some of their energy and we’d end up arriving with overtired kids. We’ve tried leaving just before the morning nap (back when they were still taking two naps). That worked somewhat, but inevitably the boy wouldn’t need as much sleep and would start talking away and then wake up his still-sleepy sister, and then it would be hell. We’ve tried leaving in the late afternoon and that was flat out a disaster of tears. Now that they are down to one nap a day, we’ve tried leaving right after breakfast and also right before the nap. With mixed results. And just this last trip, we tried leaving long after the afternoon nap (so that they’d at least be rested), anticipating a pre-bedtime arrival, thinking the waning daylight would help calm them down. IT DIDN’T.
We have not tried leaving at bedtime because I am just too risk-averse to jack with night time sleeping, and because my kids are not the kind of kids that stay asleep from carseat to bed. We have not tried driving in the middle of the night because neither drivers are night owls. And we have not tried getting up before dawn because, well, trust me, you do not mess with the girl’s sleep.
For us, knowing that there is no great time to travel with our kids, we’ve concluded that after breakfast arriving before lunch, is the best of the worst window of opportunity. That gives us time for a snack in the car, some Dora, minimized whining, arrival at Grandma’s just before all hell breaks loose, lunch at Grandma’s, a romp outdoors while we set up their sleeping spaces, and then a nap around noon.
I cannot even imagine when we’ll ever travel together “for fun” and it not be a family birthday or major holiday. Maybe when they’re six.
How about you? What’s your best window of opportunity, and why?
Rachel blogs about life with twins and a two-mom household over at Motherhood.Squared .