Summer Fun: A Hop, Skip, and a Jump Away

Every summer since I’ve moved to the midwest, I’ve wanted to venture out  and explore nearby beaches in my area.  I grew up in the East Coast and spent a lot of my summer days at the Jersey shore.  It took me a while, but I finally got around to discovering some amazing beaches in Chicago.  There’s so much to do in Chicago, and I love that I can even get a beach day in right downtown!  Alas, it’s a bit trickier to get ready and head off to the beach these days.  Gone are the days when I could just pack a beach bag, some sunglasses, and be on my way. With my little tot around, there’s so much more to pack and plan for.

That’s why this summer, I’ve really been more appreciative of what is available to us right outside our patio door!  Since DJ’s been born, we’ve upgraded our yard and added a playground and swimming pool. This particular summer our yard has become a complete lifesaver. No packing up and scurrying to look presentable hours before heading out somewhere.  These days we eat breakfast and head right out to the yard to play.  There are days my son has wanted to rush back in and play inside, but it’s so great to be outside when the weather is beautiful, so I move my son from activity to activity to get him to stay out and play; we’ll dump cars and other toys in our splash table, jump in the pool to play with a beach ball, draw pictures with sidewalk chalk, or blow bubbles. They’ll be plenty of time to play indoors when our frigid winter returns.

DJ- Bubbles              DJ ice crm

Travel Meets Mommyhood

Nothing thrills me more than a trip to somewhere.  Different country to explore?  I’m there! New culture to immerse myself in?  Absolutely! Another bag to pack?  I’ll get started! Fortunately, my husband shares my love for traveling to and discovering new places, so we’ve shared many adventures together.  What I always found funny, however, was that I’d get the same advice every time I’d talk about my latest trip with friends or co-workers…”Enjoy it now before you have kids,” many would say.  At first, I sort of took the advice seriously and certainly did make sure  to travel as much as I could and enjoy the time I spent with my husband.

Then, my little guy was born, and the more I thought about it, the more I figured, I WANT to travel with both my boys [husband and son] as soon as we can get started.  Heck, I’ll throw caution to the wind and ignore that advice  I’d heard again and again. “Just go for it,”  I thought to myself.  Granted, I feel I have it easier than other moms with more than one kiddo.  However, I’m pretty proud of myself for venturing out with my little one; I’ve learned some lessons along the way and figured out how to travel with as little stress as possible.

1.  Pack comfort items for the trip- I pack some comforting essentials for our trips, so that my little guy encounters his favorite familiars, no matter where we go.  These items include his favorite stuffed toy and blankie he loves to sleep with; his nighttime playlist saved on my phone, which I play for him at bedtime; and his favorite reads (The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Ten Little Ladybugs are musts)

2. Pack extra [healthy] snacks- often the unexpected can happen during a trip, like getting stuck on the tarmac for an hour,  waiting to deplane. In such instances, I’ve learned it’s important to make room for the unexpected and be prepared.  I try to prepare by having enough food and drink for my little guy to have in case we’re stuck somewhere and my son needs to eat.  I try to make sure I have fruit and flavored water [or juice]. Though I have other snacks packed, I always try to start with the fruit, just to make sure my little guy fills up on the healthy choices first before moving on to granola bars, crackers, etc.

3. Have  plenty of entertainment available- we’re not fans of our son constantly using electronic devices, so we limit his use to trips.  During take-offs and particularly long plane rides, we play movies on our mini iPad. Often we use, flashcard apps, drawing apps, and interactive e-books as back up just to be sure we have multiple ways to keep our son busy. Being two years old, his attention span can be shorter, so he is often ready to move on to something new and quickly.

4. Have traditional non-electronic items available for entertainment- stickers, colored pens, crayons and drawing pads can be amazing lifesavers during long waits at an airport or a restaurant. I scour the Dollar Store and stock up on sticker pads before trips, so I can keep my son busy with them anywhere we go.  Best of all, these items don’t take up much room in my bags.

5.  Be prepared for accidents- during my first plane trips ALONE with my son and some accidents, I discovered that it was best to change him right before the next flight during layovers to ensure he wouldn’t have an accident.  However, as he’s gotten older, even a quick diaper change doesn’t always do the trick or our layover is just too short and we have to rush off to our next flight and I end up dreading a diaper accident and wet lap. I’ve started using nighttime diapers instead of his regular diapers.  Huggies Overnites work like a charm, and I can breathe easy knowing my son can stay accident-free until we reach our destination. Extra clothes are also useful to have on hand.  In my PB [pre-baby] days, I once had a flight cancellation and ended up having to spend the night at a hotel.  I had packed enough in my carry-on to work with and survive the unexpected, so now I just make sure to do the same for my little guy.

Every moment watching my son grow has been so precious and it’s just another level of amazing when I get to see him experiencing something new when we’re on a trip.  I hope to keep learning to be a more travel-savvy mom as the years continue.  Adventure is out there!