5 tips to a stress free road trip with a baby

It’s that time of the year when the urge to get in a car and drive out to ‘sunny’ destinations is high! Last weekend we drove out to Kamloops. We have done road trips in the past with Zara when she was younger and they have gone well. This year we were a little concerned about her willingness to sit in a car for a long period. Here are some tips I have learned along the way to make road trips fun for the entire family.

1. You know how they say the journey is more important than the destination? Well I was never a big believer in this. I was always in a hurry to get to the destination. With a baby, you just have to slow down and expect that a 4 hour drive will take 5 or 6. Once I trained my mind to except this as a fact it was a lot better. 


2. Timing is important! We left about 2 hours or so before her nap time. Zara likes to sleep during car rides, so we wanted to use that to our advantage. How ever we knew the drive was longer than her nap, hence we left a couple of hours before. She also had some play time prior so she would get tired. It worked like a charm both ways! 


3. Plan something fun for the stops. We stopped at a rest stop on the way, to Kamloops. We were surrounded by mountains, and the view was breathtaking. There was a little grassy area and Zara loved running in it. On the way back we stopped at Castle Fun Park, which has a couple of baby rides that Zara enjoyed. 

4. When booking a hotel, pick one with a restaurant and an indoor pool. Having a restaurant in the hotel made things easy and convenient. Weather in BC can be pretty finicky, so incase of rain we had an indoor pool to spend time at.



5. When booking a hotel room, opt for a suite. We did not stay at a super fancy hotel. Instead we stayed at a good 3 star hotel so we could afford to upgrade to a suite. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Suites and it was great! This way Zara could go to bed at her normal time, and we could still have some alone time. 


I know sometimes it can be scary to travel with a baby. To me vacation time is important family bonding time. Rj and I travelled quite a bit before we had Zara. And we don’t want to stop. Our trips are different now. They are fewer and simpler. But the memories are forever.

Postpartum Dad syndrome 

No one talks about the dads. Us moms get a lot of credit, and we deserve it, but what about the dads?

Yes moms our lives change when we see the pink lines on the pregnancy test. Then our bodies change and keep changing for 9 or 10 months ( feels more like a year). And then the day comes, the baby is born. You are now responsible for this little life and your world is turned upside down!

Dad, I want to give you credit. You deserve it too. Your body did not change ( there is the ‘dad bod’) but you did not give birth, but you were there through it all. You where there holding your wife’s hand when she took the pregnancy test. You were there when her body changed. You rubbed her back. Made her breakfast, lunch and dinner. Rubbed her sore feet. Helped her tie her shoes when she could no longer see her feet. You were there in the room to hold her hand when the contractions came. And you were there when your baby came into this world. And your world changed. You also felt an overwhelming sense of love and need to protect this little person.


Your life changed. Maybe not exactly the same way as your wife/partner. But it definitely changed. You have given up things too. Your time that was spent tinkering around the garage or washing your car, is now spent running after a little one in the park. When she falls and calls for ‘dada’, you scoop her up, kiss her ‘ouchie’ and promise to never let her fall again. Dads, do you wish sometimes you could go back to your old life? Of course you do. You are only human. But then you hear her call you ‘dada’ and your heart melts. I know you would choose this over spending time going to the gym or going fishing. And, it’s ok to miss it and feel the ‘daddy blues’. I know you think you have to be strong for the family, but sometimes showing vulnerability is a sign of strength. Only the strongest of men have the ability to show emotions. So, go ahead, shed a tear for the loss of your old life. Us moms do. I will not you judge you for it. It does not mean you love your baby less. You have the right to feel the way you do. You are a great dad regardless!  

My baby hates me

Yes! It’s true. Well not entirely true. My little Z is now 19 months and her personality is shining through. She is pretty opinionated, stubborn and doesn’t give up on what she wants (I wonder where she gets that from). 


Since I have gone back to work, I have noticed a change in her attitude towards me. During the week when I am in the office, I drop her at daycare but my husband picks her up. He then, has an hour to hour and a half with her. Initially I felt this was great as he gets to bond with her. But now I am going to admit I am slightly jealous of it. When I come home, Zara does not want anything to do with me. She runs to Dada and cuddles with him and gives him kisses, while momma gets a  ‘NO WAY’!! At first, it was funny, then it got annoying and now it hurts! I know I should not take it personally, but I can’t help it. I want the cuddles and the kisses! 

Going back to work, even though it is part time (4 days) has been an adjustment for me. I am just starting to feel a sense of balance. Between, getting the cold shoulder from my Zara and feeling the pressure of balancing home and work, it has been a tough road. But that got me thinking. I felt overwhelmed by this change. And I am an adult who has gone through changes before and had to adapt. I thought, because Zara was already going to daycare prior to me working, she would not feel the difference. But she does. I dropped her and picked her up before. We had more alone time together. And then, it dawned on me, my baby doesn’t hate me. My baby misses me. She also needs time to adjust to this change. 

So, every Friday we spend some quality mother and daughter time. Some days we go out to the library or the acquarium. Some days we just have coffee (I have coffee, Zara has a banana bread). Some days we stay in our pjs. Some days we plan things, some days we don’t. And yes come, Monday or Tuesday she goes back to ‘Dada Dada’ everything. But I think back to our Fridays. It will take time for Zara to adjust. It did for me. I try not to take it personally or feel guilty about it. Instead, I plan our next ‘Friday mother daughter day’.

To sleep train OR not to sleep train

Sleep training. Two controversial words that can start debates between the best of friends and family. I was in a group setting recently, where one parent mentioned how sleep deprived they are, as their baby is going through a sleep regression. The parent was talking about how their baby was waking up every 20 min. The parents are so tired, it is affecting their marriage. I went through this. And it was terrible. I told this parent about sleep training and what worked for us. And yes it involved crying. One of the other moms in the group chimed in ‘You do not have to let them cry if you don’t want to’. And just like that the conversation was over. Why? Because no one in the group wanted to go there. I felt judged. The parent that was thinking of sleep training now felt judged. 


I did not want to start a debate so I stopped talking about it. Here is what I wanted to say: 

Dear Mom who judged me for sleep training 

Let’s stop judging! As moms/parents we have enough on our plates to worry about. Let’s support and listen. Sleep training is not fun. It is painful. But for a lot of parents, the sleepless nights is effecting their work performance, their marriage, their LIFE. It did for me. I was cranky. Baby was cranky. My husband was cranky. I remember after one particularly bad night, my husband had a day at the movie planned with his brother. After he left I sat on the couch for the next 3 or 4 hours and cried the entire time(of course baby was sleeping!). I knew then I had to do something! Sleep is also detrimental for the growth and development of babies. So now it is not just about the mom or parents well being, it is about the entire family. So I sleep trained. Because that was right for our family. Do what is right for your family. If co- sleeping works and everyone wakes up rested and happy next morning- then do it! If that is not for you( it was not for me, I have problems sleeping and need to sleep in dark, cold room, with complete silence or sound machine, on my tummy), then consider sleep training. There are tons of methods out there. But most of them will have some crying. Crying is a way of communication for babies, so it will happen. And yes it sucks to hear our little ones cry. But so does waking up the next morning with only an hour or 2 of sleep, with an over tired and cranky baby. At the end of the day, every mom, every parent wants to do the best for their baby and their family. So it doesn’t matter how or if you teach your babies to sleep- it is your decision. Let’s respect and honor the parents decisions instead of shaming or judging. So to the mom who judged me for sleep training, I don’t judge you for not. Because I respect your decision. 

5 things NOT to say to a Mom

As a mom you are constantly doubting yourself and worried about EVERYTHING! On top of that you will have people ask questions or say things to you that makes you want a stick a fork in your eye. 

So I wanted to compile a list of things NOT to say to a mom.

1. Is your baby sleeping?

Never ever ever ask a new mom or any mom this. If your baby sleeps through the night and takes all their naps on schedule from day one-that’s awesome! Good for you! You won the Jackpot! But please don’t ask this to a new mom that looks like she has not washed her hair for a week! Bottom line, just don’t go there.


2. Are you breastfeeding? 

Nope don’t go there either. Do you want to hear about how the baby is having issues latching, supply is low, nipples are cracked, or that the mom is pumping like crazy, taking pills, drinking tea to get her supply up? Do you want her to break down and cry? 


3. Are you thinking of having another one? Or When are you thinking of having another? 

I was asked this in the first couple of weeks of giving birth to my daughter. This was not what I wanted to be asked. My body had just cared, nourished, and pushed out a 6 pound baby! I was still bleeding. The thought of going through it again made me sick. 

4. Enjoy this time with your baby. Don’t you love the cuddles ?

Yes yes I love the cuddles. But I also love sleep, and going to the bathroom (by myself). In the first 6 months when I heard this I wanted to punch people. Yes I loved my baby and I loved that she slept in my arms. But most days I wanted to eat, sleep and pee in peace. So no I was not enjoying it. The fact that I didn’t enjoy it, made me feel like something was wrong with me. 

5. Don’t worry you will lose the baby weight in no time. 

No I won’t. It will take me years. And even then it might not happen. Don’t give me false hope. Or tell me about your cousin that lost all the weight she put on in the first month. I am just surviving day by day at this point. Losing the baby weight hangs over new moms like a black cloud! Don’t go there. 

Moms, what are some things you have been asked that made you want to punch people? I would love to hear your feedback! Comment below! And feel free to like and share! 

Letter to my 18 month old Daughter 

Dear Zara

You are 1.5 years old now. You are growing so fast. You can run and dance ( sometimes both at the same time). You talk a lot! But most times it sounds like baby talk. You have mastered a couple of words: Mama, Dada, Papa (Puggles the dog), No Way, Ball, Book, Bed, Bath, Star, Bunny, Dino… the list goes on and on. You love to give hugs and kisses to Puggles and all your stuffed toys. Your favorite is Pinky, a little pink lady bug lovey that you sleep with. 

Recently you fell ill. It was the most sick I have ever seen you. I was stuck at work and you were with Dada,  but when I got to the hospital, you reached for me and cried, ‘Mama’. It broke my heart to be not with you. And I am sorry for that bubba. 

Mama is struggling bubba. I miss you when I am at work. When I am at home I am too busy organizing our life: bills, budget, groceries, meals, laundry! On my day off I struggle with deciding if I should spend the day with you or doing house chores or get that haircut I have been meaning to get for the past 3 months. I am overwhelmed. I have my shortcomings. I do not let anyone help me. I do not ask for help. Your dad is my rock and I do not let him help me. 

I know that I have to do something about this. I don’t want to let the stress overwhelm my life to the point,where I miss all the important milestones of your life. Momma has to take care of herself so she can be there for you. 

You are the light of my life Zara. And I do not remember what life was like before you. I want you to know that you bring me joy. You are not the cause of my stress. You are the reason I wake up every morning and take on the day. You are my source of strength. 

Love you forever Zara bear!

Momma

A letter to a Mom at the library 

Dear mom at the library 

 I have tried to talk to you a couple of times, but you do not seem interested. Maybe it’s because my baby girl is older than your baby. Today, Zara came to you a couple of times and you gave her the cold shoulder. I did not say anything because, I want my daughter to learn that not everyone will welcome her attention. 

I want to tell you that it’s OK. The couple of times we spoke you talked about finding a nanny,and going back to work part time. I know you are stressed out about it as I was. Your baby girl is adorable. She has to wear glasses at a young age, but she rocks them! I can see though that you worry about it. One time I heard another child ask you why your baby wears glasses and you seemed upset. I want you to know that you are doing great. It is not your fault. 

I wonder, if to you I look like I have it all figured out. Zara is a very happy, healthy and independent baby. And maybe you see that and wonder how I got lucky. 

I want to tell you that I was you at one point. Zara was always small for her age. I always heard comments about how she looked like she was 5 or 6 months old when she was 9 or 10 months. I worried if she would have been taller/bigger if I made more breast milk. I worried about how little she ate. I worried that people judged me when they saw how small she was. I felt it was my fault that I did not make enough milk and she did not eat enough food. Most of my maternity leave I worried. I still worry. I am just better at hiding it. 

I want to tell you that I do not have it all together. I wish I could help you through this, but I also know that no one could help me until I was ready to accept the help. So hang in there momma. It will get better. You will still worry but it will be different. Just don’t forget to enjoy the time you have with your baby. Because no matter what I do now, I can’t go back and change the past. 

I regret spending so much time worrying about what Zara was eating or not eating rather than just being with her. So stop worrying, and just BE with your little one. Because one day, like me you will look back and regret it. One day you will look back and say, I am a great mother, and I wish could tell the old me that. You are a great mother. Don’t forget that. 

Sincerely,

Mom who understands what you are going through.