Traveling with a toddler – Our first vacation

IMG_6587We went on our first family vacation this summer. There’s a little place on the beach in South Carolina where my husband and I honeymooned a few summers ago, and we knew it would be a great spot to bring B to one day. After some careful thought and a lot of planning we decided to take B this summer, at a year and a half old. So the summer of 2014 marks our son’s first trip to the ocean.

This went just about as well as you might expect when flying with a 1.5 year old. The first flight was a rather miserable mis-adventure with a very sad toddler. The return flight went a little smoother, but was still a flight with a toddler. Safe to say flying is one of those things that will never be the same as it was when I was a non-parent.

The beach
The place where we stay is right on the ocean, so after we got settled in we decided to take B to the ocean. We figured it would be best to introduce him to the ocean right before sunset – the sand would be cooler, the water would be calmer and the beach wouldn’t be as bustling as the afternoon. It turned out to be a brilliant idea, B ran right in to the tide and let the sand run through his hands. Though he met the ocean with great enthusiasm, the rest of the trip was spent mostly in the sand, tide pools or condo pool. I think B realized the ocean waves were a bit louder and more unpredictable than he planned, so he stayed pretty close through the rest of the trip (which I didn’t complain about).

Language explosion!
My husband and I had noted – with only a tiny bit of concern – before our trip that B’s language development seemed to have stalled. With his second birthday approaching we wondered when he was going to start picking up more words. When we left for vacation he had only around half a dozen words and two signs. But once we got to the condo it was as different story! Every day on vacation he said at least one new word. It was very awesome.

Delicate sensory situations
This was not so awesome. We’ve known for quite some time that B is “wired” differently than other kids. (We’ve landed on the term “spirited” but that’s a discussion for another day.) One of these traits involves him being a bit more sensitive. The first thing we noticed on vacation was the sound of the ocean, while soothing from far away, is downright terrifying for him when he’s up close.

The second thing we noticed was during probably the only disappointing part of our trip. We decided to visit Ripley’s Aquarium while we were down there and it was an AWFUL experience. For everyone. Crowds of people packed in not-quite-big-enough spaces, bright lights, video display screens everywhere and poor building design lead to sensory overload for one sad Little Bear (who typically loves fish). The adults of the trip were disappointed in the unbelievably expensive aquarium that seemed to be lots of plastic and very little fish. The toddler was a worked-up mess who couldn’t really calm down until we left the building. Oh well. You live and you learn. We probably won’t go back.

I’ve said it before; for all the crunchy-attachment-like parenting practices my husband and I have, bed sharing is not one of them. We co-slept with B in a bassinet for the first three/four months of his life, but past that our little man has been happy with our nighttime routine that includes lots of rocking, snuggles and sleeping in his own bed.

On vacation this was a different story. The three of us all shared one room, with us in a huge king-size bed and B in a portable crib. Before naps and bedtime, B and I would lay in the big bed until he wound down, then I’d put him in the crib. His bedtime was a couple of hours before ours, so he’d generally be snoozing by the time we crept in the room. In the early, early hours of the morning B would wake up. Not wanting to leave him standing in the portable crib a mere two feet away as he stared longingly at his dad and I sleeping, I’d bring him in to bed with us  – where he’d snuggle up and sleep for a couple more hours. And though we all went back to our own beds once we got home, I’ll admit having my typically squirmy toddler all tucked in under my arm resting peacefully was an awesome thing to wake up to every morning.

All in all, it was a fantastic trip and just the vacation our family needed. Hopefully we have the opportunity to take another family vacation next year.


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