Roadtrip With A Toddler

Roadtrips are only glamourous when you’re travelling with friends, and when none of the passengers are children. Sorry, not sorry–it’s true!

I mean, I kneeeew that travelling by car with a toddler for a 9 hour drive was going to be a challenge, but I guess my hopes and dreams hid the reality of how much a shit-show it was going to be. And how much longer it was going to take…

The first couple of hours were great: she played with her toys, sang along with us, and napped. But once she woke up, about two hours into the trip, she wanted OUT of that damn car seat. Me too girl, me too. We tried to push for as long as we could, but this mama can only handle so much screeching–thank goodness he was the one driving at this point. I don’t get why, and I am sure I am not alone, but the sound of her pissed off vibrating chewbaka-like screams literally make my blood boil with anger. This makes the concept of a relaxing drive nearly impossible, and makes her requests for milk, walks and flower-sniffing that much more compelling. So we stopped. Again and again, we stopped…

You can see her death-grip in the reflection in the mirror; this girl was not letting go once she latched on.

Breastfeeding is great; it’s low-cost, high-convenience, and without the trouble of cooling/heating, which is great for being on the road for so long. Except you cannot do it in a moving vehicle. Shit. It’s okay, we can stop a few times to pee, snack, and gas up along the way and do it then. Great. Or so we thought… It especially sucks when your breastfed child realizes that by asking for milk, you stop the car and they get to run around after feeding because they end up asking to be fed just to get the other stuff. Ugh, go figure. At least it means she is smart!

So there I was, standing on the side of the road, leaning over my daughter’s car seat so that she could breastfeed to her heart’s content, and not lull her into false confidence that milk meant out. Especially considering we had literally just trapper her in there. No, not a typo: trapped her in there. She has recently learned to push the release button on her chest clip and tries to climb out (yikes!), and covering it with a button up shirt wasn’t doing anything, so we had to resort to literally taping a piece of cardboard over the darn thing to keep her from getting unstrapped. So far so good, and she only managed to rip it off once (hubby used small pieces of tape instead of wrapping it all the way around).

My advice: make that first stretch as long as humanly possible before you stop! That first chunk of the drive is your longest and sets the pace for the rest. Push through the urge to pee, try not to drink too much, and take advantage of cruise control to alleviate the leg cramps and foot pressure. We made the mistake of stopping after only 2.5 hours, but we also left 2 hours later than planned so technically lunch was supposed to be 4 hours out. Oops. Toddler life! Also, in the spirit of full-disclosure: if it hadn’t been for the pandemic, we would have left after dinner and driven as far as we could until we were too tired, stayed in a motel, and then left in the beautiful refreshed morning for the last third of the trip. BUT since we had been tested and didn’t want to compromise our negative covid results for visiting my elderly relatives, we couldn’t stop anywhere (wore mask and gloves for gassing up, and sanitized our picnic spots). Otherwise, it’s not worth the savings of a hundred bucks or so to do it all in one day. Oie!

Though I must say, our family picnics along the way were so much fun, and will definitely encourage us to do them a lot more on our days off, if nothing else but to spend time to get outside of the house. Winter will be here soon enough so let’s take advantage of the beautiful weather! Since I had brought my camera with me for the week, I even got to take a few photos of little miss playing around on our last break of the trip–it was the start of golden hour, so how could I not!? (photographer’s brain!)–and I must say: you’d never know these were captured at a rest stop unless I told you! But you will have to wait until we get back to see them; worth the wait, I am sure!

See that BIG smile? That’s her adorably sweet and beautiful amnesia-inducing smile that she got what she wanted: food, walks, and play time with rocks. Gosh, we love her, but man does she test our patience!

And that my friends is how a 9 hour drive quickly turned into over 12 hours of pure insanity. Totally worth it to spend time with my grandparents and for them to enjoy seeing their great-granddaughter in several months (waving from 10 feet away for 20 minutes doesn’t count), but man we are NOT looking forward to the trip back. Mostly because it means we have to leave this heavenly place (I spent all my summers here growing up so it’s that much harder to leave), but also because it means we go back to real life, which includes full-time retail work for him and full-time momming for me. But, the mental reset button has been hit, making it that much easier to enjoy the regular crazy when we get back.


stephanie de montigny SdeM handrawn initials ottawa blogger