First Road Trip: A Lesson in Parenting

Our Family: Tired after the long drive, but
enjoying the peace & quiet and the gorgeous view.

Aria’s first Labor Day was marked by her very first road trip – to her aunt & uncle’s West Virginia cabin. Once there, we relaxed and took in the beautful scenery, panoramic views and, at night, a sky full of stars. The trip there, however, was a different story…

Aria’s “fussy time” starts around 4pm each day and generally lasts until bedtime (around 7/8pm). This “fussy time” is Aria in winding down mode; she’s tired from the day’s events and wants to eat frequently and be held constantly. Sometimes she’ll nap for a bit before going to bed for the night; sometimes she won’t. At home this time of day is quite manageable as we’ve come to accept it as part of our nightly routine and can anticipate and react quickly to any wants/needs, thereby heading off any major meltdowns. Generally if we go out, it’s a short walking trip just after a nap, allowing us to make it home quickly when our little lady deams it necessary.

When planning the roadtrip to W. VA we did take “fussy time” into consideration and chose to leave during the afternoon, figuring it could go one of two ways – either she’d sleep through it or she’d have a meltdown; we were obviously hoping for the former. Aria usually likes the short car rides we take around town and though not a huge fan of the carseat, she doesn’t hate it when we put her in it for walks or quick trips. And so, pulling away from the apt Saturday afternoon, with naptime looming large, we were sure she’d fall asleep soon, allowing us a blissful drive across country.

What a huge error in judgment. A 3hr drive became a 6hr drive, with frequent stops generated by high-pitched screams, lots of tears and just general hysterics (by all involved). Aria was miserable in her carseat and so wanted to be cuddled; we were miserable about causing her such misery. At 1030pm, still 15 minutes from the cabin, Aria finally crashed, exhausted after just one 20 minute nap during the entire drive.

Her parents vowed never again to drive anywhere. Ever.

The Aftermath: Aria’s schedule was a bit off for a few days, but we did have fun hanging out in the cabin. Aria slept very well in her new travel crib (much to her parents relief) and when awake got to spend some long overdue and much enjoyed time with her aunt & uncle. Keith and his brother, meanwhile, got to do the male bonding, physical labor thing, hacking up overgrown brush and whatnot.

The ride back (done much earlier in the day) was not nearly as bad as the ride there. After the 1st hour (lots of crying and two pit stops), Aria slept for 2hrs and awoke happy and amenable to a stop at Target. All in all, not a bad trip, but we’ll think twice before traveling very far by car anytime soon.


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