I have discovered the one and only true Holy Grail of Kid-Included Road Trips.
Without this, you will surely meet your doom, as your children will find you keeled over from over-questioning, exhaustion, and lack of alone time. And they won’t dial 911 because they have no idea how to use a phone without FaceTime.
So you’ll die.
Do not disregard what I am about to say.
DO NOT I SAY.
Here it is. Are you ready for the most fantastic nugget of wisdom that I’ve ever shared with you?
If you dare road trip with children, you absolutely must take with you someone who thinks your children are more delightful than you think they are.
For me, that is my mother. For you, it might be someone different. But identify that person in your life, or find a person to be that person in your life, or for all I care hire that person – you just need that person. That person that will laugh at their jokes on the hundredth telling, that will think they’re adorable when you’re so tired you just pray they would spontaneously fall asleep, and who will, with no begrudgingness expressed or implied, gladly take your children on a walk when you sprint in the other direction with your camera.
(Under the ruse that you must hurry to catch the sunset but really you’re just trying to take one single breath without having to answer another “Hey Mommy when will we…” question.)
This invaluable asset became most important to me today after Noah ended up in my bed at 1am (from his air mattress on the floor because I DO NOT sleep with children), then pile-drove into my back with various sharp angles all night, then woke me up at 5:45am, then cried when I took him on a walk so that he didn’t wake up his sister or grandmother, then came back to bed with me and kicked me as I dozed between stabbing pains to the ribs, and then later complained to whoever would listen, “Mommy WOKE ME UP at like 4am and made me take a walk.”
And then later, when on our actual hike, I ended up carrying him up the hills. Which was really peachy for my still-recovering neck, back, and shoulders.
AND THEN I GOT TO SEE HIM SLEEP PEACEFULLY WHILE I FERRIED HIM AROUND.
(After which he insisted he didn’t sleep. At all. And when his sister asked, “Then do you remember when we put on the Home soundtrack?” He said, “Well of course. Why wouldn’t I?”)
This all might have been what led me to say to him at the end of the day, “I love you and I appreciate your hug but I really just want you to leave me alone.”
Because I’m a stellar Mom like that.
But Gramamma. She willingly accepted all his hugs, all his jokes, took over for me at bedtime because she could see in my eyes that I was done, and was the ever-important adult conversation companion that one needs when in the presence of children 24/7.
She taught them about plants, helped collect fallen leaves, found butterflies, and explored joyously with them.
But also, the entertainment-education factor.
As I was walking out the door to go pick up my Mom for our road trip, I texted her and said, “Be sure and bring anything you can think of that would help Ali with her nature journal while we’re on the trip.”
She never answered, so I didn’t even know if she’d read my message. Until we unpacked. And she had this.
And then she got out the state park lodge’s iron and ironing board and did this:
(Who even knew what an iron was for?? Now I have something I can do with that awkward triangular thing that sits in the top of my closet!)
And then she sat with Ali as they cut, journaled, and documented all she had taught her during our hikes.
Okay nevermind. The one rule that you must follow if you choose to road trip with kids is, take MY Mom.
We’re actually all having a lovely road trip of State Parks (thanks in full to my mother) – follow my pictures real-time here, and see them all compiled later here, but here’s one from each State Park ( that we’ve traveled to so far) that I haven’t gotten to share yet:
Joe Wheeler State Park:
Guntersville Lake State Park:
Desoto State Park:
And also forgive any typos (but INFORM ME IMMEDIATELY), as I’m writing this at 12:31am. After being woken many hours ago at 5:45am. But no need to rehash that.