So it has been written, so it has been done. By others, by those more experienced and better at planning and less anxious than me. Traveling with my kids, or even contemplating the enterprise, sends me into paroxysms of list writing, over-thinking and worrying. I try not to let it show, but I think there is a positive correlation between the number of kids, the number of suitcases and associated junk, and my level of anxiety.
Especially with a young infant, the amount of baby gear is upsetting for someone like me, who is an extreme minimalist. I work hard at planning efficiently, packing effectively. But I am also practical, I think ahead of how many days we’ll be away, and the places we might go to, what the weather will be like, if we’ll be walking or riding or staying indoors. I’ll think about access to diapers, baby food, if I can prepare something to eat or if we’re ordering out. I’ll think of the sleeping arrangements and what i’ll do if we need a doctor for whatever. I’ll take light jackets and snacks and medication. I’ll take strollers and car seats. I’ll take coloring books and figurines and little games just in case of delays or looming tantrums. I end up with a mountain of clothes, a ton of baby “necessaries” and a jumble of what-if-I-need-it-its-better-to-take-it-just-in-case stuff.
I find it harder and harder to be mobile with three kids. So I do what I’m sure other moms do: I cut corners. If my 3-year old has acquiesced to pee before we head out, I’m not fussed about him having his hair brushed. That’s what baseball caps are for. If my 9-year old refuses breakfast I’ll let it slide because I know he gets motion sick and that will save me a mid-flight mop-up. If my baby is fussy I’d prefer to feed her rather than spend the few minutes putting on my makeup. I let them run ahead of me, so long as I can see them, and push the stroller if they want to, as long as we get where we’re going together with no damages. I try to enjoy our outings, but if I were to be honest, I’m usually too anxious about the what-if’s to do so.
Just going to the mall with them frightens me, so I plan my trip for the early morning, when its less crowded and less potential for getting lost, and less waiting in line to pay or eat or whatever. But I have to psych myself up for it, and even trick myself into doing it by secretly promising myself a treat (coffee, cookie, lipstick, or even a browse through my favorite shop).
But psyching myself up for an airplane trip takes me to a whole new level of nerves. I only relax when its over, when we’re all arrived and they’ve been fed and watered and changed and brushed and asleep.
I will probably have forgotten to pack my own things as usual, but that’s the way it is. Maybe that’ll be my treat for when we go to the mall tomorrow.