A Toddler on Vacation

It was only 15-20 minutes into the drive of our mini-vacation getaway, and the concern started to set in.  What had we gotten ourselves into?  I mean, I had known that Brady started to call out, “Go walk?”  And “All done!”  And *insert high-pitched screaming noises that make you want to bury your head under a thousand pillows, except you’re stuck in a car for another 2 hours*.

Stopping for dinner wasn’t much easier…  Looking back, trying to convince a 19 month old to sit still in a highchair after he’s been locked in a carseat for 2 hours probably wasn’t the smartest of ideas.  But we were hungry.  And Friendlys is the happiest place for kids of all ages, right?

(I got him to smile for this photo, even if I had to cheat and tickle him a bit).

Brady, apparently, wasn’t happy enough for Friendlys.  He tossed crayons.  Grabbed for anyone walking past us.  Whined, tried to get out of the chair, and threw a small tantrum.  (According to my doctor, the negativity and even slight aggression is very common at this age, as toddlers test out their parent’s authority and their own emotions.  But going through it in the moment, that isn’t always reassuring enough).  😉

Brady also discovered that if he throws chunks of grilled cheese hard enough, it gets stuck in my hair.

The kid has impeccable aim.  (I left the restaurant with enough crumbs in my hair to feed Fievel’s family for a week).

I thought I’d planned brilliantly by coming up with fun, toddler-approved activities while still leaving enough free time for relaxing, napping, snacking, and exploring at a little one’s pace.  But if something can go wrong when you’re on vacation with a toddler, it will.  And there is nothing more horrifying than being stuck in a hotel room at 5am with a screaming 19 month old who won’t be soothed.

(You know the people that you don’t want to be renting a room near in the hotel, because their child makes a ton of noise first thing in the morning?  We were those people…  I apologize to the people renting the hotel rooms on either side of us).

On our first (and only) full day, the beach had been on the agenda.  It rained shortly after arrival, but we were able to squeeze in some quality time in the sand and waves.  It was most definitely the highlight of our trip!  Brady loved running along the sand, chasing seagulls, and dipping his toes into the ice-cold water.  (And, well, you all already know how much I adore the ocean…).

Since it was still very early, and since Brady had successfully taken a 3 hour nap, we decided to go to the Aquarium that afternoon.  The kid is obsessed with fishies and could spend all day at Petco watching them swim around.  I’d been excited about taking him to the aquarium for weeks!  

Apparently he just has a thing for Petco fish though…  We paid $70 to get into the aquarium, and he insisted on leaving 15-20 minutes into the visit (after whining the entire time for food, even though we had just eaten lunch).

Hmmmm, who forgot to pack the snack bag???

I really couldn’t believe it!  I mean, we were standing in front of a ginormous tank, when this swam by…

Oops, wrong picture.

…this swam by!

My breath was taken away at seeing such a magnificent, large creature up close.  Brady, on the other hand, decided that he wasn’t interested.  So we set out to find the clock that had captured his attention, completely ignoring the whale, penguins, seals, brightly colored fish…and sharks!

It’s okay, Brady.  I get hangry sometimes too!

Thank goodness for general stores that sell popsicles AND fresh, fried dough.  Like the beach, this was a win-win for all parties involved.

That night, when back at the hotel and trying to unwind a toddler who was bouncing off the hotel walls, we received a call from the lawyer who’s handling Nate’s disability case. She told us that Nate had a mandatory meeting in the city the next day.  We had to go home a day early.

I was part devastated… and part relieved, since Brady had been throwing tantrums and whining all day.  Nate, meanwhile, canceled our hotel for August, because Brady just isn’t ready for travel.  Or maybe we aren’t ready for travel with Brady…  😉  Either way, we decided that we’ll go away one night in October instead for our anniversary (since my mom is willing to watch Brady).

But Nate will stay home in August, and I’ll travel with my sister to the 5k I’ve already signed up for.


I love Brady more than anything on this earth and having him was the greatest miracle we’ve ever experienced.  But yeah, sometimes it’s hard to be mommy and daddy (especially when you’re going through one of the tougher stages, like the newborn stage or the terrible 2’s).

Now you all know me and know that I bounce back really quickly…  😉  I’m already coming up with smaller activities that can be enjoyed as day trips, since that seems to be our sweet spot this summer.  I still plan to make this summer incredible!

Maybe we won’t travel as much as we used to…  But different doesn’t have to mean less special or memorable!

If I’ve learned one thing as a parent so far, it’s that there will be days that are hard; because you -in a way – will mourn for the way things used to be.  (Because those are the good ol’ days you remember and cherish).  BUT also remember that you’re forging new traditions.  New memories.

And although change can be hard, you can also focus on how amazing the new, different way of doing things can be.

And trust me, I fully expect to laugh about this vacation one day.  And when he’s older, I also plan to remind Brady of what he put us through.  Ha!  🙂   Just kidding!





14 thoughts on “A Toddler on Vacation

  1. What a trip!! This is just what I needed to hear…before Ellis we used to take a trip every quarter! Even if it was just a weekend camping trip, we love to explore new places! But now that Ellis is here, we’re going crazy missing the way things used to be😝 I definitely need to switch my focus and enjoy the now instead of missing the past!

    1. I took Brady on one more toddler-getaway, and it went SO well! I think that each stage comes with its own challenges, and Brady is definitely over that rough 18-month patch. It was only for two nights, but my parents had rented a cabin (as apposed to a hotel room). So Brady had lots of room to run around…
      It went REALLY well.
      Traveling is definitely not going to happen like it used to for us. But it was a relief to be able to go away for a couple of nights and have it go so well. It just reminded me that we WILL be able to travel again one day. 🙂

  2. Aww I remember this stage so well… and will be going through it again in no time at all. 😉 You are handling wonderfully (even if it doesn’t always seem that way at the time). Good job doing what works for your family, and deciding on day trips for this summer instead. It is easy to see that you are excellent parents, and that Brady is one loved little guy.

  3. Oh my goodness… I’m nervous about traveling with a toddler. It’s just a phase, it’s just a phase, it’s just a phase. And he is so adorable. You’re doing awesome. It sounds like you guys have a great game plan for the summer.

    1. I was just rereading this comment, to reply to it, and it amused me; because I JUST wrote a blog post entitled “phases”. Maybe I subconsciously remembered this comment, and you inspired me?!?
      I went away with Brady for two nights earlier in the week, and it went SO well!!!! Traveling with a toddler is obviously different, but I felt that things went much smoother than my first attempt. 🙂 So maybe it is possible! Ha, ha. (I’d definitely say that renting a cabin or house is sooooo much easier than renting a hotel room, when there’s an active toddler involved).

  4. Staying in a hotel with a toddler is a special kind of miserable. You are not alone. I told my husband I would rather stay home than go on “vacation” to a hotel.

    1. The hotel stay was miserable!
      I went away for two nights earlier in the week, but – this time – I stayed with my parents who had rented a large cabin. It was soooooo much easier! Brady did great. I guess that’s the secret… 😉 We won’t be traveling with Brady anymore this year, but it’s good to know that for the future. Try to rent a cabin if possible. Ha, ha.

  5. Oh, I think you absolutely need to remind him of this. Preferably in front of his first girlfriend. 😉 Seriously, though, I’m glad you guys had some wonderful moments on this trip even if there were some tough ones in between!

  6. Whew, I feel wiped out just reading this! I’m sure it was so hard to go through those moments of tantrums, whining, having grilled cheese crumbs in your hair (LOL), and having to leave early. Ooof! I know you’ll be able to travel with Brady sooner than you know! Until then, you’ll enjoy your 5k vacation and night away with Nate! 🙂

    1. I was able to go away for two nights with Brady this week, and it went a MILLION times better!!! It was a wonderful little getaway, and it was a refreshing way to put the difficult trip behind us. 🙂

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