March 20, 2007

Trip Toys

In June, when the new baby is about 3 weeks old, I'm going on a 3-day trip with my mom and my dad and one toddler (probably Edward) and the new baby, to attend my cousin's wedding. It will be one full day of driving, one full day for the wedding, and then another full day of driving.

Some of you will think this is berserk, but consider for a moment:
  • If I stay home, I will be exclusively in charge of five children: a fighting 8-year-old and 6-year-old, two 2-year-olds, and a newborn. If I go on the trip, there will be two additional adults and three fewer children.
  • If I go on the trip, I will get to eat meals out three times a day, without having to cook or even open the fridge.
  • If I go on the trip, I will be able to go to a wedding, and I love weddings. I will get to buy a wedding gift, and I love buying wedding gifts.
  • I am fond of my cousin, and would like to be there on an important day like this.

Now I realize there is a flip side:
  • If I go on the trip, we will have to stop every 2-3 hours so I can nurse a newborn.
  • That newborn will probably spit up all over his car seat.
  • Spit up IF WE'RE LUCKY.
  • A toddler in a car for two days.
  • A toddler in a hotel room.
  • A toddler at a wedding reception.
But still! I think it will go okay. I think it might in fact be very nice: I tend to be a little overwhelmed and weepy at 3 weeks post-partum, feeling as if all the happy anticipation of life has drained away. A little trip like this might be great. I don't have to do any driving, and can rest in the car. I can eat lots of nummy snacks. I can buy new postcards for my collection. I don't have to look at a dirty house. I can show off the new baby to lots of relatives who, because of being related to the baby, will refrain from noting how rashy-cheeked and patchy-haired and generally unappealing he is.

I think I even have a dress I can wear. I was worried about that, because I'll still be kind of puffy and pregnant-looking 3 weeks after the c-section. And it IS a little worrying, because it's not as if I can try the dress on right NOW and see if it'll fit: I'll have to try it on after the baby is born and make a decision THEN if it'll work or if I have to somehow drag myself out shopping. But I think it will work. It's a dark blue floral print, and it's a forgiving cut. If I remember correctly, it's the kind that's really loose and then there's a string in the back to tie it the right tightness. It's not high fashion, but who's going to be looking at me anyway? It's a wedding, so there's the bride just for starters, but also I'll have a newborn baby with me. I could wear nothing but a hospital johnny and an arch expression and no one would notice.

Oh! I nearly forgot the point of this post! Which is that I will have a toddler in the car for about 24 hours. And I'm going to buy some new toys for the trip, and I am hoping for recommendations. Edward will have just turned two years old. He likes things with buttons: an old TV remote was a big hit for awhile, until he realized the buttons didn't do anything. I'm thinking along the lines of handheld battery-run toys that aren't so annoying that an adult trapped in the car with them will go nuts. And of course if you know of any SILENT toys that are just as entrancing, TELL ME RIGHT NOW YOU MUST TELL ME RIGHT NOW.


Julia said...

You are a BRAVE woman! :D I couldn't imainge doing something like that with just my three kids! But as you said you do have your mothers help, rather than being home alone with all your kids.

I also have two year old twins, who were just that when the new baby arrived! Its certainly an adventure! But fun!

Good luck with your trip!

Kelsey said...

Don't know if your little ones will be into this, but we got a mini (5x7?) magna doodle before a car trip to St. Louis. It says 3+, but Harper had just turned two and was fine. I keep it only for in the car or maybe in the shopping cart on a long outing. Harper really liked that,even if her drawing skills are nearly non existant. She can scribble and erase, scribble and erase. The "pen" is attached so there's nothing to lose. I also found that I can draw things on it for her to guess if I'm not driving and that's a good game too. And no batteries!

nowheymama said...

When we went on a trip when Katherine was 2, we took a travel-size flannel board set. It was very entertaining and very quiet. I like Kelsey's Magnadoodle idea, too.

You might want to think about packing a ball or frisbee. That way someone can play with Edward in the grassy rest stop area (and help him burn off some energy) while you nurse the baby.

And of course, you can't underestimate the power of snacks, especially ones that are special treats.

Jen said...

My kids like their leapsters and the volume can be off on them and you get about the same experience. Plus, they're fairly educational, so you can justify the purchase.

We traveled from VA to Iowa for a wedding with a one year old and a 3 week old for a wedding. They have the same birthday, just a year apart, so he was really just a one year old!

Black Sheeped said...

I'm really happy you're going to have a nice little trip to look forward to! I obviously can't recommend any toys, but I'll be cheering you on. Hooray!

Michele said...

I would totally take that trip if I were in that situation!! I love weddings and everyone will be fussing over you and the baby.

My kids love writing with real pens in a notebook. They also like stickers (it can even be colored dots like they use for yard sales) and sticking them in the book. I also bring lots of books and lots of small snacks. My boys even like magazines - ANY magazines - and if they get really bored I let them tear the pages out. It only takes a minute to clean the van floor up after but it keeps them busy for miles and miles.

Devan said...

I second the magna doodle! d loves his! (and it's O SO quiet!)
Any chance for a portable DVD player? He'll be mesmerized...

Also, candy. Bribes are sometimes a good thing.

theflyingmum said...

If he will wear head phones, a lot of the "Leap Frog" toys have head phone jacks to keep parents sane...
We also have a LOT of kids books on tape, like "Mog the Forgetful Cat", "Room on the Broom" - you get the picture - anyway, Ben would listen to those, quite rapt, for an entire long car trip.
Good luck, and Have Fun! (Yes, I know it's still, like, 3 months away)

jen said...

... but... but.. how do you separate twins? (yes I realize the probable "why" of that but I had to comment :) )

No ideas. I want to drug them. One thing that works for us is an iPod playlist full of kid songs and stuff they like. I can listen to that for the hour or so it takes.

Shannon said...

You must be my sister from another mother. We are contemplating a wedding trip, too. Ours would be two weeks after c-section, on a plane ride. Not sure if it is going to happen yet, all I'm getting is gasps of NO, how could you even think of going? We would leave the toddler at home with the grandparents, but who knows.

carrie said...

Yes, the Magna-doodle is always a huge hit in our car. Also if he likes to draw/paint - all of the ColorWonder stuff is amazing. I actually like to color with the markers too - it is very relaxing and my daughter thinks it is cool to color with Mommy.

And stickers. Sheets and sheets of stickers. They are kind of annoying to clean up - but they don't do any damage and they provide lots of entertainment.

Good luck! I think you will have fun despite the obvious roadblocks!

Swistle said...

These are great ideas so far, you guys! I see me + Target + a Visa card getting very cozy in the near future.

I like the idea of the DVD player, because I am lazy and fond of television. Do portable ones always have to be HELD? I mean, could they be temporarily mounted somehow? He couldn't hold one himself.

Shannon-- I don't know how it could be true, but more than one person has told me that newborns are very easy to travel with. Apparently they tend to sleep the whole time. Toddlers, though--apparently that's a different story. And c-section scars--I don't know how that's going to go. I can't remember how long I was sore after the last one.

Emmie (Better Make It A Double) said...

You could get a few shoelaces and tie some little toys to the car seat. Toddlers love throwing stuff down and retrieving it themselves. We did that on the plane with their lovie bunnies, and it was a huge hit – next time we’ll bring more stuff to tie to the car seats.

Oh, and mini post-its.

desperate housewife said...

Newborns really are easy to travel with, actually. I was amazed by that after Adelay was born. She was like a tiny, portable, adorable lump. It's when they're awake and twenty pounds and BORED that it's hard.

Jennifer said...

For the portable dvd player, I think there is some way to attach it to the headrest of one of the front seats.

Have a great time on your trip. The pros definitely outweigh the cons.

jen said...

Look for a DVD player that's mountable, some of them are! Some of them are marketed as for the car. I was going to suggest one but I had this zany idea you were Tv Free or something over at your house LOL. Sometimes you can finagle with a seat mount kit (which consists of pleather and velcro, at least around here.)

Colorforms are cool if he can reach the window.

Kelsey said...

Being the not at all ashamed (we frequently drive 7 + hours to my parents') owners of a portable DVD I can say that they can be strapped into any car. That thing has been a godsend since flipping Harper's seat around. We love it. We usually set it up and then only use it as a last resort, or else she would watch videos the entire seven hours! I know that lots of people frown on this, and maybe when she is older and more self-entertaining we'll not use it as much, but oh lord, have you ever sat for two hours in rush hour traffic outside Chicago with a screaming toddler?

I rest my case.

Of course tranquilizer darts are always a terrific fall back!

Swistle said...

Jen (Never Melts Jen--my, we have lots of Jens in our age group, don't we?)-- "TV free"? I understand both of those words individually, but not together. Like when someone says they "don't eat sweets." What? DON'T? eat? sweets? What can that mean?

Blueberry and the Bean said...

our car dvd player is from target-it has two screens! we got it because we were driving to FLORIDA from OHIO (read 16 hours) with a 18 month old- ahhhh! it is designed for car use and just straps to the head rest. she didn't watch it the whole time but it was really nice to have- it kept her from getting too restless.
my sister has used the magna doodle for trips and highly recomends. our daughter is getting one for easter because we are driving to st louis for spring break (husband is a teacher so we still have these!)
good luck! :)

aoife said...

From someone who's done it -- don't drug the kids to sleep unlesss you know know the benedryl really works. Don't judge -- it was a 7 hour flight over the atlantic in business class with a 13 month old (I have no idea how we ended up in biz class to this day -- husband says he had *nothing* to do with it).... It made him tired and irritable... but he only slept one hour. Out of seven. Hrmph.

Another option is to make his night's sleep before you go a lot shorter so he is more likely to sleep for a few hours extra in the car.

Also, (God, I can just feel the flames coming now after the first bit of this comment) can you nurse in the car? We just got back from Morocco in January... and I did get sort of desensitized to the car seat ritual as no one drives a car big enough to accommodate a britax... If you had the baby in a carrier and you in the seat belt, he would be held against you and wouldn't be unharnessed, so to speak.

Just a few thoughts. Please don't kill me folks.

Swistle said...

Aoife: Good idea to test the Benadryl first. I remember when we were traveling with our cats, the vet said, "Well, you can try Benadryl--but it might have the opposite effect and make them all spazzy and unhappy."

One thing we're thinking of doing is leaving very, very early in the morning. This is a strategy my parents used when I was little, because then the kids sleep the first three hours or so.

The up side of stopping to nurse is that then Edward can run around a little.

ktjrdn said...

Tthese things are awesome! You can color them over and over again and they just dry out. The only thing you need is a little water for the pen. They have saved our sanity during car trips before.

Omaha Mama said...

I know I'm a little late on this, but feel I must interject. We're taking a car trip in June with a 3-year old and a 14-month old. We splurged on a DVD/TV screen that hooks on the headrest in front of the child. We tested it out on a shorter trip, not one peep out of the kiddos. Many, many parents would agree that it has made many a car trip worth the $. Especially if you'll have the newborn to dote on. Have you ever had to nurse in a moving car, with the baby strapped securely in the seat? Not that I recommend it - but it's happened to me!

Swistle said...

Omaha Mama and others who recommended DVD players-- Does anyone recommend a particular brand or model? I was looking at some online, and found that some of them were nice and low-priced but got iffy reviews ("it broke within a week," etc.). On the other hand, some of the more expensive ones ALSO got iffy reviews.