Monday, October 20, 2014

Road tripping with one year old triplets

We took our first long road trip with the babies since they've become mobile last week. Our last trip was to St. Louis in May when they were six months old. Let me tell you, this was a different beast! Those three little peanuts who slept for long stretches and were fairly content to look out the window or play with toys when they were awake are now three active movers & shakers who, if they could really talk, would've been screaming "I'm trapped! I'm trapped! Let me out of this prison!" For a good portion of the drive on the way to Massachusetts. We went to MA to be with my dad and extended family for my uncle's funeral.  Google maps estimated it would take us 7 hours....ha! If only!  

We left State College immediately following their one year well visit (and two quick stops to drop off paperwork & grab something we forgot at home), around 3pm. The first couple hours of the drive were blissfully quiet because the babies were taking their afternoon nap and the fall colors were beautiful as we headed northeast through PA. It was raining & not the best driving conditions, but the babies were asleep and we were listening to various podcasts so all in all, not a bad start to the drive. The babies woke up about 15 minute before we hit Wilkes-Barre and just as we drove into a torrential downpour. The roads were flooding and we were worried that the Prius, which is very low to the ground, might have trouble, but we made it! (Yes, we did take the Prius and yes, we did manage to fit everything we needed into the car...barely!)

On past trips, higher end hotel lobbies have been our go-to pit stops because they're usually pretty comfortable places to nurse babies and have clean bathrooms. But as I was looking up hotels (with the babies whining & wailing on & off in the backseat), Michelle had the great idea to look to see if there were any libraries close by that might have a children's area. So I quickly switched gears & found one telling Michelle about 100 feet before the exit to get off the highway.  The library didn't have a parking lot so we unstrapped the babies while still in the car to decrease the amount of time we'd have to be standing in the rain and then grabbed them and ran into the library.  The children's area was great and was a perfect stop for three babies who needed to move.  They enjoyed playing with the new toys and it was hard to motivate ourselves to leave and stick them back in the car!

The babies were none too happy about being back in their car seats and the next two-ish hours of the drive were pretty awful.  We sang every kids' song we could think of and put out a plea on facebook or more ideas for songs.  But they really like the songs they already know so I think we sang about 20 verses of "wheels on the bus" about 20 times along with "if you're happy & you know it" and "Old MacDonald" over and over until our throats were raw.  By now it was dark AND raining so add in some baby screaming and you have a rockin' good time. Around 7 we couldn't take it any more and although we'd fed them dinner in the car (Michelle's shoulder was killing her from reaching back over and over with cheese & deli meat) we decided to stop for a second dinner for them (& first for us).  We searched for all day breakfast places because that's usually a safe bet for the babies and found an IHOP about 15min away.  That was a LONG 15 minutes, but we made it.  The babies did great at IHOP and scarfed down almost an entire kids meal of eggs & pancakes between the three of them.

hungry babies
spacey baby enjoying her pancake!
We were hoping that since it was then bedtime that they would just konk out for the rest of the ride, which they first. But I guess NPR podcasts aren't close enough to the white noise they are used to hearing when they wake up and the screaming resumed about 45 min into the drive.  So we put on the "mountain rain" track and drove the last couple of hours listening to the oh-so-stimulating white noise.  It is a miracle that we managed to stay awake!  Michelle was a rock star driver! We arrived at my cousin's house at midnight, a mere nine hours after we left home.  I'll write anoter post with pics from our visit with family, but this is all about the drive so let's skip to the way home!

Having suffered through the drive there, Michelle and I put together a strategic plan to try to make the drive home more tolerable. We decided to start the drive during their morning nap and stop in Stamford, CT to visit Michelle's cousin.  Our original plan was to spend the night there and drive the rest the next morning, but our new plan was to just hang out for the afternoon, eat dinner there and then plop them in the car and power through the rest of the drive when they should be sleeping.  Sadly the morning nap was not as long as we'd hoped and we had a bit of a detour (on a failed attempt to find a Trader Joes that sells wine so we could stock up), and hit some traffic, so the babies were awake and unhappy for the last hour or so.  We temporarily satisfied them with slowly parsed out bites of lunch, and the new baby crack (AKA multigrain crackers from TJs) and apples that they love to gnaw on.  Oh yeah...and we sang...AGAIN. (and no, sadly, kids song CDs do not seem to be a substitute for our lovely voices)

The babies were pretty good all afternoon though their afternoon nap was really short.  They did great at the pizza joint we went to for dinner (which was delicious by the way).  We headed off the initial crying with more singing and they all fell asleep pretty quickly.  They did much better on this drive and slept most of the time with only a few little wake ups.  We braved it and listened to some podcasts and music until they stirred when we switched to "ocean waves" for a bit.  We had one quick stop to get gas and switch drivers and all three woke up.  So we had a yogurt pouch snack in their car seats before hitting the road again.  We got home around 11 and went through their usual bedtime routine and they did pretty well falling and staying asleep so although we didn't get a lot of sleep, we at least got some good chunks.  We spent a good chunk of the drive home strategizing our next epic road trip at Christmas time.  We'll see if any of our plans help!  For now, we're just glad that Christmas is almost two months away!  If you have any tried and true road trip strategies for traveling with 14 month olds please feel free to share in the comments!

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