Preparing Yourself For a Long Car Trip and Vacation With a Small Child

Let’s face it… after you have a kid vacations are just not the same. For the better or for the worse taking a kid on vacation changes the entire trip from the get go.

The car ride to a destination and the actual vacation with a young child can be a relaxing, refreshing experience or it can be an aggravating, stressful blur. The best way to ensure a smooth, enjoyable car ride and vacation is to be prepared, cross your fingers, and hope for a pleasant child that will chill and let you enjoy yourself.

We recently made the 5-hour drive to Switzerland for a quick vacation. It was a last-minute trip with one night to pack everything we would need for a three-day stay and a combined ten hours of driving with a 14-month-old and a dog.  I didn’t have my usual 3 to 4 days to start preparing everything so I was more stressed than usual. This isn’t our first rodeo though and with some experience I have learned some of the best ways to have the most enjoyable, relaxing trip you can have with a young child.

Tips For Taking a Car Trip and Vacation With a Small Child

 

Try to start getting ready a couple of days before the trip with lists…then use the lists.

Using lists helps to ensure nothing will be forgotten. (An added plus to having a list is getting to check stuff off the list.)  What toys or stuffed animal does your baby need? What food and snacks will she need?  Bottle cleaner… dish soap…..  Put it all on the list and it hopefully won’t be forgotten.

Organize the car so anything you need is easy to access.

Food pouches, snacks, and baby toys should be easily reached. Having them behind the driver’s seat makes it easy for the passenger to reach without having to unbuckle the seatbelt and hear that annoying f-ing beeping sound that can really drive someone crazy. The beeping on top of struggling to get a food pouch from a weird part of the car, personally, makes me snap and that is unenjoyable for everyone.

Pack a small cooler with milk of choice.

Since I’m not a fan of breastfeeding and think breastfeeding a kid over the age of one is just freaking weird my 14-month-old is drinking organic cow milk. I’ve done a lot of research on the milk I feed my daughter and ensure that the cow or cows it comes from haven’t been pumped full of hormones and antibiotics. I like to pack my own milk to be safe. I’m also not risking a change in milk upsetting her stomach causing her not to sleep and causing me to be tired, grumpy and an all around bitch.

Bring a Pack n’ Play and if there isn’t room for a Pack n’ Play bring a sheet and blankets.

Hotels often charge for the use of their Pack n’ Play, so save some money and bring one from home. I’m super uncomfortable with the thought of how many toddlers and babies have pissed or thrown up on the hotel’s Pack n’ Play and how well it got disinfected.  Can’t bring your own?  Sheets from home are easy to pack, take up a small amount of room, and are clean…usually.

Bring a small fan or sound machine.

One of the worst parts about vacationing with a toddler is having to be super quite at bedtime. Unless you get two hotel rooms you’re gonna be stuck with a sleeping baby and having to tiptoe around the room at 8pm. Any background noise, like a fan or sound machine, might help her sleep and you to be able to watch some TV or do other fun adult activities… quietly.

iPad.

I’m not one of those ‘no screen time’ moms, but even if you are for the sake of your trip bring an iPad with kid games and shows. Throw Baby Einstein (or another educational show) on, give your kid a Ritz Cracker and maybe you’ll have enough time to enjoy a long lunch and a few glasses of wine. It’s vacation… you NEED it.

Over pack

The one positive to a car trip is that you aren’t charged for how many bags you have. One bag or five bags it doesn’t make a difference. When you are going to a country like Switzerland where everything is WAY overpriced it’s nice to not have to go buy diapers that cost 2-3 times more than they do in Germany or America.

Also, weather is pretty unpredictable so pack for the cold, pack for the warm, make sure you won’t be stuck unprepared for what nature can throw at you. Pack anything you might need… bags are free!

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In the end, don’t over stress about all the shit you need to pack and what might be forgotten, most places you visit have a place to buy what you need.

It’s vacation. Have some wine and chill as much as your crazy baby will let you.

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Need It… thredUP! 5 Reasons To Not Buy Toddlers New Clothes. Instead Buy Secondhand!

A few reasons why I don’t waste money buying my toddler new clothes, but instead buy secondhand…

  1. She couldn’t give two shits about how she looks or what she wears.
  2. She’s messy.
  3. She’s dirty.
  4. She’s constantly touching and rubbing gross stuff on herself.
  5. She grows fast.

thredUP! Online Consignment and Thrift Shop

I am not embarrassed to admit that I buy a lot of clothes from Goodwill, Savers, and Kohl’s clearance section.  (Why spend more money then you have to?) Always looking for a good deal led me to this amazing new online secondhand store called thredUP!  

thredUP! is The Largest Online Consignment and Thrift Shop.  Since shopping with a toddler freaking sucks, an online thrift shop I was a godsend.

I was a little weary at first, but after ordering from them once my fears were gone. All the clothes were in great shape, pretty true to size, and looked awesome! Even better you get 40% off your first order and free shipping on all orders over $79! Another great perk of the site (Because I love buying myself clothes more than buying my one-year-old clothes) there’s an adult section!

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was $110 now $28.99

 

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was $20 now $6.99

 

Not interested in buying secondhand, but have a closet full of old baby clothes? You can also sell to thredUP! Why not make a little cash for that next ridiculously expensive baby outfit?

 

FIND THRIFT SHOPS IN YOUR AREA

Goodwill stores have a great selection of baby, toddler, and young children clothes.

Savers has a great selection of clothing if you are lucky enough to have one in your area. My personal favorite.

The website thriftstore.net is an amazing way to find ALL the thrift stores and secondhand shops in your area!

3 Reasons (experts say) You Shouldn’t Tell Your Daughter She Is Pretty and The 1 Reason You Always Should!

There is this crazy new idea going around that parents shouldn’t tell their little girl she is pretty.  It’s a ridiculous one.

It’s like some bored asshole with a couple master’s and a doctorate  was just looking for some attention and money and needed to come up with something to bitch at parents about and thought, “What is something a lot of parents do or say that I can bullshit enough reasons up that they will in turn feel bad about their actions, even if they were doing it with best intentions?” The answer to this thought, “Telling your little girl she is pretty.”

1 Reason Parents Should Always Tell Their Daughter She Is Pretty

 1. They truly believe she is. Every little girl is pretty and they need to know it!(Soon enough this world will be telling her differently.)

  • The world can be a mean place, young girls and boys can be vicious (I know first hand) and the teasing usually comes in the form of making fun of appearance. Whether these kids are jealous or just assholes they will usually attack the way someone looks first. (Adults do it, too.)
  • Every little girl and boy needs to know that their individual look is pretty. Tell them they are pretty so no one can convince them otherwise.
  • These experts seem to assume because a parent is telling their daughter she is pretty that they can not also be telling her she is strong, smart, and independent.  You can tell her she is pretty in the same sentence that you tell her she is a boss! (not bossy, but a boss: a person that runs the show)
  • We will never live in a world that isn’t obsessed with looks. So maybe this idea would work in another universe, but here on earth people are visual and drawn to certain looks. (FUN FACT: While this really has nothing to do with telling your daughter she is pretty or not… it’s proven men and women are instinctually drawn to certain physical attributes. History is loaded with stories  of powerful men attracted to beautiful women. The Trojan War was fought over a beautiful woman. Henry VIII broke from the Catholic Church to be with a beautiful woman. Benedict Arnold reached out to the British and offered to be a spy and betray his colonial cause after one month of marriage to his beautiful, English loyalist wife, Peggy. Coincidence?  Throughout history beautiful women have made men do crazy things. #hailtotheV )

 

3 Reasons Experts Say You Shouldn’t Tell Your Daughter She Is Pretty

And why they may be wrong

  1. It may seem obvious, but is easily forgotten, that teaching girls that appearance is the first thing we notice about them gives them the powerful message that looks are their most important quality.

    Appearance actually is the first thing you notice about someone, before you can shake a hand and notice a firm grip or make small talk and realize how funny someone is, you notice their appearance. If I go in for a job interview dressed in my PJ’s chances are, based on my appearance, I won’t even be allowed into the interview (I’m not Mark Zuckerberg after all )  You don’t have to be the prettiest person in the room, but you do have to make an effort in the looks department.

  2. Shallow praise linked to looks can have a negative effect on a girl’s ability to deal with adversity. These off-the-cuff remarks can imply that looks, goodness, talent and even intelligence are things you either have or don’t have.

    Seriously? How can telling a girl she is pretty even start to imply that talent is something she either has or doesn’t have? How long did this asshole have to sit and think about a way to relate the two?

    I remember constantly being told as a kid to work hard for something that I wanted to achieve. If I wanted to be talented at something I had to work hard. (Fact of the matter is though, in some cases people either have a talent or not, but that is not related to telling a girl she is pretty and it doesn’t mean she can’t work hard and get better at a talent.)

    Again, I will tell my daughter she is pretty, just like I will tell her the more she studies the better her grades will be, just like I will tell her the more she practices the better her talent will be.

    Telling someone they look nice or pretty is not shallow praise and is not something to feel guilty for doing. As much as those experts want to not put an emphasis on looks, when someone feels they look good, they feel better about themselves. It is just life. A woman can be pretty (and know she is pretty) and also be strong, independent and successful. 

  3. These innocent comments to a daughter can make her think her self-esteem is linked to certain traits or attributes. She may grow up valuing being pretty more than being strong and independent

    Even if a little girl isn’t the standard definition of pretty why shouldn’t she  know that her individual look is a blessing and that it is beautiful. Let her know that beauty can be both on the outside and the inside and each individual is pretty in their own unique way.

    In today’s image obsessed world girls will be bombarded with picture perfect “pretty” women everyday, unless the home is without a TV, computer, even a newspaper a little girl won’t be able to avoid the pictures.  Avoiding telling a little girl she is pretty won’t prevent a problem, it will create a problem. If a person hears something enough times they will start to believe it. Should beauty be related to self-confidence? No, but with almost all people it is.

    So if a little girl hears other mothers and fathers telling their daughters they are pretty, smart, and strong and that little girl never hears she is pretty from her own parents will she think, “Oh well, looks don’t matter.” or will she think, “Mom and Dad never tell me that. Am I not pretty?”  I can’t be for sure, but it’s not something I want my daughter to question.  There is no need to give your daughter a complex. I mean, even men like to be told they are handsome.

I grew up with my brother and my male cousins being my best friends. I wanted to be a boy and be treated like the boys and I feel I was for the most part. (I even tried to pee standing up. It was a major fail and I got yelled at for making a mess, but I was dedicated to the cause.)  I didn’t want to be that pretty little girl and wasn’t made to think looks were the most important thing, but that didn’t matter. When  I went through an ugly duckling stage and got made fun of for my crooked teeth or lack of boobs (both changed drastically, thank goodness) it hurt.

So whether a parent decides to tell their little girl she is pretty or choose not to, eventually her self-esteem will be affected due to her looks. It is inevitable and a shame, but it’s life. There is absolutely  no problem building a little girls self-esteem by telling them they are pretty, just make sure that it’s also added that they are strong, that their abilities are limitless and that they can do absolutely anything they put their minds too.

 

 

 

 

9 Things I Don’t Feel Guilty Spending Money On

Kids are expensive little boogers. From food and formula, to clothing, to healthcare, keeping them alive and healthy puts a dent in the bank and parents are never done. My parents and in-laws are still buying us stuff and not getting paid back. Once you have a kid they have you for life and they just keep sucking you dry. (The only thing my kid didn’t and future kids won’t suck dry is my milk bags, cause I’m not into that.)  Most parents do so much for their kids…literally keep them alive everyday. (I couldn’t keep my Sim baby alive worth shit, so I know keeping an actual baby alive everyday means I am winning as a parent.)

Because I keep my baby alive and healthy everyday, spend most of my time caring for her rather than doing fun hobbies or watching my shows on TV, and the fact that I know how much she really is cramping my style there are some things that I just refuse to feel guilty for spending our hard-earned money on.

9 Things I Don’t Feel Guilty Spending Money On

  1. Wine: I love wine, I love it even more since I’ve had a kid. She should feel guilty for driving me to drink. (joking, but seriously)

  2. Beer: I don’t drink it, but my husband does and sometimes I just need to be a good wife and buy something for him.

  3. Vodka: Sometimes I’m just not feeling wine.

  4. Takeout: Some days you just need to waste money on having a burger  or pizza delivered rather than spending time making it at home.

  5. Jail broken Apple TV 2: yes, it was a bit expensive and yes, it is an older, less advanced version of the Apple TV, but movie tickets, babysitters, and renting movies on iTunes is expensive. We get all the free movies and TV shows we want. No ridiculously expensive theaters with $7 sodas, no babysitters, it pays for itself pretty quickly.

  6.  A babysitter: I hate spending money on babysitters, but sometimes we need a night away from our little fungus. We need to go out to dinner without having to rush through our meal to prevent a meltdown, we need to drink wine without our kid trying to put her hand into our glass, we just need to get our young-adult on, damn it!

  7. Music: I never feel bad about buying music. I feel like I should, but I just don’t. I listen to it constantly and it makes me happy, so I buy it.

  8. Shopping online: I’m not taking my one-year-old shopping… I’ve tried and it was an unsuccessful disaster. I don’t go overboard or do a lot of shopping, but when I do spend money on clothes or shoes I don’t feel bad. These days anything I can do to make me feel sexy I don’t feel guilty about. Will that new top make me feel sexy?  I don’t know, but I’m sure going to buy it and see. I spend half my days in sweatshirts covered in snot and slobber, so just knowing I have something cute to wear if I have the chance to get out makes me feel good.

  9. Anything from a thrift shop: I know whatever I buy I’m getting it cheaper than buying it at a regular store, so really, the way I look at it is I may be spending money but really I am saving money.

Being a Mom (or Dad) doesn’t mean you have to spend ALL of your time and money on your kid and as long as your kid is taken care of you should never feel guilty about spending a little extra on yourself. (Unless it is on crack or meth or anything along those lines… then you should feel guilty.) 

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Tips For Traveling With a One-Year-Old… And How They Might Not Work

I was so nervous about my first international flight with my five-week old. We were on our way to Germany and my mind was racing with the ‘what-ifs?’ The most serious  being…What if she cried the entire eight-hour trip? Turns out flying with a newborn is a piece of cake and I made myself sick with worry for no reason at all.

Fast forward a year and that’s when the traveling nightmare begins.  Here are some tips to hopefully make your long-haul flight a little more enjoyable and how the these tips (personal experience and common sense) didn’t do shit to make our trip better.

My story of a complete nightmare

1. Bring your stroller

Car seats and strollers can be checked at the gate for free. You are still allowed to have a carry-on and purse along with the stroller. Bring the stroller! It will make life so much easier.

For some screwed up reason my husband and I decided not to bring our stroller. We thought we would just bring the car seat.  (We needed one for when we arrived in Germany.) The car seat connected to the stroller, but we still thought having a stroller would just make more for us to pack around. Walking through the airport with two pieces of luggage, a baby, a car seat, a jam packed baby bag, and a backpack is not easy. I was sweating and pissed. Not the best way to start a day of traveling off. We checked that heavy thing at the gate, grateful to be rid of it.

2. Get the bassinet

Most airlines have bassinets available for long-haul flights. They are suitable for babies up to 14 kg (30 lbs) and up to 83 cm (32 in) in length and are provided free of charge. (The weight max is different for different airlines. I am referencing Lufthansa airlines.) These make night flights so much more enjoyable because your child can keep their regular sleep pattern. For more information and tips on flying with a baby check out Lufthansa.com

As soon as you get to your seat make sure you have a bassinet that actually works available for you. Don’t wait until the plane is packed and you reach cruising altitude to ask about the bassinet, even if you reserved one. On the way to Germany this year I waited until the plane reached cruising altitude before asking if they would set the bassinet up and surprise, surprise it would not connect to the wall.  (You always have to wait until after take off to attach the bassinet to the wall, but ensure it will work before everyone has boarded.)   As the steward said, “Who ever messed this up will burn in the darkest place of hell.” He was just joking, but seriously damn that person.  We had already taken off and everybody was all settled in and we weren’t able to trade anyone seats on the completely full flight. So that started the trip from hell. Bradley had no place to truly fall asleep, the floor wasn’t doing it for her. Like most one-year-olds when she is tired she becomes a huge crybaby. (I’m not talking the awesome Johnny Depp kind, I’m talking make you want to pull your hair out kind.) There was a lot of screaming and crying.

3. Bring Activities 

Bring your child’s favorite toys, books, puzzles and stuffed animals. Anything that keeps them occupied at home could also keep them occupied on a plane.

The one-year-old age is a tough age to travel long distances. At this age kids want to touch, taste, and play with everything. For my daughter unless she is watching Baby Einstein, TV or movies won’t keep her distracted very long.  I brought puzzles, stuffed animals, books, it didn’t matter though she just wanted to crawl and explore. I was over prepared in the activities department, but it made no difference. We tried the plane movies, but she just wanted to break the headphones. We tried games on the iPad, but she just wanted to push the home button. We tried books, but she just wanted to throw them on the ground.

I’m not the kind of mother that is oblivious to everyone else around, so I wasn’t going to allow her to crawl up and down the aisle. I just can’t be that mother that lets her kid crawl/run around, get into people’s space/stuff or get in the way of the stewardess doing their job. I understand that it will happen sometimes, but those mothers that knowingly allow that to happen all of the time suck. It is usually the same mother that lets her kid kick the back of someones seat and then when asked to have their child stop she uses the excuse that he is too young to know he shouldn’t be kicking the seat and then doesn’t actually make them stop! I witnessed this happen once and was blown away by this mother’s stupidity. She didn’t even apologize to the man. It wasn’t like the kid was doing it for a couple of minutes, it went on for 15-20 minutes. (I’m guessing that kid will learn respect for others from his mother and be a disrespectful twit later in life.) When you tell your kid no, even at one-year-old ,they know they aren’t suppose to be doing whatever it is they are doing.

4. Bring your child’s favorite foods.

I was allowed to bring six 6 oz. bottles of boiled water through security and several packs of baby food. I got many conflicting reports on what food and drink you could bring through security, but every time (on Lufthansa) I have been allowed through security with what I brought. They did pat and rub me down to test for bomb residue (but I’m not gonna bitch about that because I don’t hate it) and then let me through. I really think it just depends on if the agents hate life or not. tsa.gov has more information about what items can be brought through security.

Bradley got real fussy about 2.5 hours into the flight. We walked her up and down the aisles, made funny sounds and silly faces, let her rip apart one of my magazines and fed her all the puffs she wanted (big mistake). She is always content when eating, so I wasn’t limiting her food. I’m pretty sure this gave her a bellyache and as soon as they turned off the lights in the cabin (so everyone could sleep) Bradley started screaming. Not just crying… Screaming. She wiggled to get away from us and pushed us away. I did let her down to crawl a couple of times, most everyone was trying to sleep and not up walking around, but she crawled right to the bathrooms. Disgusting. So I would pick her up and she would scream again. I was so embarrassed and felt terrible for Bradley, the other passengers around us, and myself. I was getting flustered and overwhelmed and I think Bradley could sense it. At one point as I was in the corner seat having a small meltdown, (when I get exhausted I become a huge bitch. I see myself being a baby/bitch, but can’t do anything about it) Travis was bouncing and walking Bradley trying to console her and when he comes back to the seat she had puked all over him. (I’m guessing we overfed her her favorite foods.)

5. Bring extra outfits 

You never know when your child is going to be sick and puke everywhere or poop out of their diaper so always be prepared with a change of clothes. Bring yourself a shirt change because you don’t want to sit for eight hours smelling of baby puke.

We spent the next hour in the bathroom cleaning puke and trying to get Bradley to settle down. At one point a lady the next aisle over gave me one of those ‘I feel so bad for you and understand what you are going through’ sad smiles. It made me feel a little better, because I knew at least one of the other passengers wasn’t cussing us in their head and could feel for us. I think you could probably read it all over my face, if someone would have said something to me (or given me mothering advice) that was in anyway condescending or rude I would have jumped across the seat and went Kerouac on their ass. Crying-baby really puts me on edge and hours of it can send even the most patient people into a spiral.

6. Don’t plan on anything and just relax

Babies feed off your energy. I was stressed, pissed and bitchy and my baby was the same way.  Around an hour from landing in Frankfurt I finally relaxed a little (because there was an end in sight) and Bradley stopped screaming! Maybe it was just a coincidence. Don’t plan on anything, because chances are nothing will go the way you think.

The lights were finally turned on in the cabin and breakfast served, by this point Bradley wasn’t crying anymore just fussing. As usual and just like I excepted she finally fell asleep at what would have been 1 am in the States and 6 km away from the Frankfurt airport. She slept the hour car ride to our flat in Köln and it let me get a quick nap before my next meltdown.

Moral of the story? I guess….

Baby Benadryl for the kid.

Tylenol for you.

Now I am not one to pump kids full of unneeded medication and since she had only taken baby Tylenol once I wasn’t going to give her Benadryl when she didn’t truly need it. (I had really considered it though, but decided against it.) Well… No way in hell I ever make that mistake again. Also, always bring Tylenol for yourself. Even if your baby isn’t screaming bloody murder the changes in cabin pressure can really make your head pound. 8 hours with a pounding headache can make the most enjoyable experience miserable.

You can read every tip for traveling with a baby ever given, but there is a good chance it won’t matter. I prepared everything from food, bottles, toys, blankets, stuffed animals, technology and she still screamed and fussed for 6 hours of the trip. Just try to prepare for every situation imaginable, over pack and say a quick pray before you depart.

Need It! The Dyson

 

I am absolutely obsessed with my Dyson Handheld Vacuum. I got one for a wedding gift and loved it so much I asked for another for Christmas so I could have one in Germany. Now that Bradley puts absolutely everything in her mouth I am constantly vacuuming. (Honestly, I constantly vacuumed before Bradley because I love it and between the dog and me there is hair freakin everywhere!)

It comes with a few different attachments and makes life so much easier for me. It’s cordless and holds a charge for long enough for me to get my place clean (or my car, or my stairs, or the baseboards, there are attachments for it all).

There are a few different kinds of handhelds, (I have the cheapest one at around $170) but totally worth every penny. If you love to clean (or just have to) I would and do suggest this to everyone.

So This Shit Happened

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It’s a good thing I enjoy cleaning because the job is never ending. If it isn’t dinner all over the floor, it’s her new interest that involves taking everything from where it belongs and spreading it all over the floor. On the plus side Bradley is learning to feed herself!

 

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So this shit happened the other day. Definitely something I never thought I would see or have to clean. Note that she wasn’t crying the entire time. She was actually having a grand ole time playing in her poo and when I walked in she showed me the poop on her hands like it was a play toy.  Not until I yelled, “Oh My….Shit!” and slightly panicked did she start crying.

“It happens…” “What? Shit” “Sometimes…” -Forrest Gump