thoughts on traveling with children

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{Three wise men from Hill Cumorah Pageant}

{Hill Cumorah Pageant.  I actually played one of the angels years ago during a college summer.  It was special sharing it with the kids this weekend.}

{Picking wild blackberries from Meredith's parents yard in Fairport, NY.  There are more photos of our visit outdoors like shooting off rockets one evening-- you can find those on Instagram.  Find me at @nshiffler.}

I love this photo above.  For me it conjures up everything wonderful about when friends meet up after years of life, children, jobs, and being divided by state lines.  We spent evenings and mornings with my good college friend, Meredith, and her little family.  We were fed and cared for, children played without any needs from Mommy, we were given tourism brochures, wasp stings were made better (yes, Ainsleigh managed two), and of course, it was so hard to finally pack up for home.  These are the memories of being cared for (along with the huge family I brought along!) that stay with you forever.  It was hard to leave.

Our biggest regret was how short the trip was and how rushed we felt due to our own schedule.

If any of you have traveled with children for a long period of time know that there is so much planning and packing, patience driving, creativity with kids while in the car, long nights sometimes somewhere new, unexpected changes in plans, unexpected exhaustion and tired feet, five hundred trips to the bathroom...

After driving home Saturday, unloading and tucking kids in bed, I looked at Bobby, feeling somewhat like we must be crazy, and asked, "Is this all worth it?  The work and planning to the experiences we are trying to give to our kids?  Will they even remember??"

In my spent, pregnant and emotional state, my solid husband sat down next to me and reminded me it is all worth it.  And they will remember it.

Now a little more confidently, I'm holding this special weekend dear to my heart.  I am learning to embrace the difficult moments and the incredible moments of the trip together, as a whole as to our family trip, and learning from them.  For the "difficult and exhausting" only make the "wonderful" moments more sweet and give us a starting point as to where to make changes for the next trip.

I've also accepted that we have one last trip (this weekend!) to the beach with family before I can call the traveling off and let this slowing body take the remaining months down a notch.

I'd love to hear from you experienced parents and travelers.

How do you handle the wonderful and the difficult on long trips?  

How do you embrace the unpredictable that is reality with travel?

 And how do you keep the memories alive for your children once you've returned?

the sleepy time gal