Traveling to Charlotte, NC with Daniel so that he could attend the NA-YGN conference was a learning experience for all of us.
This was our first time to take a trip, as a family, that lasted more than 5 days. It was our first time staying in a hotel with a baby. It was our fist time staying in a hotel with our baby and our dog. It was our first time to exclusively use disposable diapers (since starting cloth at around 8 weeks). It was the first time (in a long time) that we had to take Sophie on regular, daily walks (at home, we just open the back door and let her roam our 3-acre property to her heart's content). It was our first time to eat at restaurants for every meal for an entire week.
So how did it go?
Overall, I'm going to say that we learned a lot and would do some things differently in the future. There were some tough days, but overall I am glad we were able to tag along. I don't know that we would go on a work trip with Daniel again, but it was nice to visit our old city.
What we learned:
1. Rule #1: on any road trip, as long as the baby and dog are both asleep, keep driving.
We would have LOVED to stop at NOC to watch the rafters, grab lunch and let Sophie roam around, but when your babies are asleep, sometimes you have to forgo fun stuff and keep on driving.
2. In the future, we will try to stick to renting houses whenever possible.
Hotels are tough. Having a baby in our room was tough. We stuck the pack 'n play in the bathroom, but that meant we had to plan showers, teeth brushing and other bathroom activities around a sleeping baby.
Also, trying to get in and out of the hotel, via an elevator, with a dog and a stroller for multiple daily walks was hard. Thankfully most of the people that road the elevators with us were pretty laid back about having to ride with a dog. Maybe they were just distracted by the cute baby.
3. To some degree, nap times and dog walks are going to dictate what you will be able to do.
We have a pretty flexible schedule with Jack, but we still try to make sure that he gets at least one good nap every day. I was really hoping that he would nap in his stroller on at least one of our daily walks with Sophie, but that was rarely the case... I guess there was too much to look at.
I had hoped to visit more museums and shops, and while I did get to go to the Mint Museum and IKEA, I decided for the good of everyone, naps for Jack were more important. I try to find balance when it comes to my baby. It is important that we get out and enjoy activities, but it is also important that he gets rest.
Sophie needed to get out at least twice a day. We tried to walk her in the mornings, then again around dinner time and/or around bed time. Daniel had to walk her in the rain at night on more than one occasion.
Wow. This turned out to be our biggest problem. For four nights straight Jack kept waking up multiple times throughout the night. I would have to change his wet diaper and then he would fuss, so I would give in and nurse him back to sleep for the sanity of Daniel and anybody staying in adjacent rooms. I, on the other hand, was losing my mind. I was also concerned that a week of "training" to wake up and nurse multiple times every night was going to mess us up when we got home.*
FINALLY, we decided to try Pampers Baby Dry overnight (12-hour) diapers. This was a game changer. We had no idea that we would need different kinds of diapers for just a week, but regular disposable diapers were not cutting it. We made the swap (at the end of the week) and we got our good sleeper back. This made everyone happy.
Now that we are home, we are thrilled to be back in cloth diapers. I had to change diapers more often with the disposable and we had some near fiascoes when we were out and about. I already loved our cloth diapers, but now I appreciate them even more.
*Thankfully Jack has resumed his normal sleeping schedule without incident. Whew.
5. Eating at restaurants was surprisingly easy.
We only had one meal that was a near disaster. Thanks to our experience with baby led weaning, we just offered Jack whatever was on our plates and he did great.
Our one not-so-good night was when we ate with Daniel's colleagues from TVA. We all walked to McCormick and Schmicks. Jack started the evening out happy, but he had missed his afternoon nap completely. About 10 minutes after sitting down at our table, Jack was done. Daniel and I had to take turns eating our meal and sitting with Jack outside. If it had just been us, we would have gone home early.
To top this off: as soon as our food came, a monsoon started. I'm talking torrential downpours and loud thunder. Thankfully there was an awning outside to sit under. We hoped it would clear up, but after two hours, it was still going strong.
Daniel took a shuttle with his co-workers back to the hotel while Jack and I waited. It made for some interesting people watching as no one wanted to get out in the rain. When Daniel pulled up, I had to run through the rain to the street where I handed Jack to Daniel and then I had to go back for our stroller (which we could not collapse). Daniel ended up throwing a fully open stroller into the back of our Subaru. Fun times.
I am looking to taking a real vacation one of these days. We have been incredibly busy this year and could use a break. It was nice to visit Charlotte, but it didn't feel like a vacay.