Road trip survival tips when travelling with infants–not

We leave for Manitoba tomorrow, a 1600-or-so kilometre drive (1000 miles) that we’re planning to do over two leisurely days of at least eight hours in the car each day. The kids are aged 10, 7.5 and 2.8 now. The elder two are awesome road trippers. The littlest one… well, there’s a reason we didn’t go anywhere last year. We think we’re prepared (we’ve got snacks, games, electronics, strategies galore AND ear plugs)… but we’re also a little worried.

On the plus side, no matter what happens, it can’t be worse than our first car trip after Flora was born. In this vignette, she’s five months old. Cinder’s three. Their parents are in… hell.

June 27, 2005—Calgary to Edmonton. 300 km. 

6:45 a.m.—Both children in the car, unfortunately awake but, fortunately, notscreaming. So far, so good. We’re leaving only 15 minutes later than planned.We will still beat the rush hour out of town. We hope.

6:53 a.m.—Speeding at 120 km/h in the far left lane on Deerfoot Trail whenCinder starts rocking back and forth and saying, “Oh, oh, oh, oh.” “Do you have to pee?” Sean cries out, panicked about spending the next 300 km in a pee-smelling car. “No,” says Cinder. “Oh, oh, oh. Yes. Oh, yes! Oh, oh,oh! I have to pee! I have to pee right now!” “Hold it, sweetie, hold it!” Sean hollers. “Mama’s going to pull right over. No, what are you doing, not onDeerfoot! Wait until 32nd…” Mama pulls off a wicked lane change, screeches around the corner on the 32nd Avenue exit, and comes to a bumpy stop at ared light. “Oh, oh, oh!” cries Cinder. “Hold it, hold it, hold it!” screams Sean.

“We’re almost there,” say I as I take a sharp right into a parking lot. Sean leaps out of the car before I stop and runs around to get Cinder out. He scoops him out of the car seat and pulls off his pajama pants just as a fountain of pee starts flowing. And back into the car. A quick wave to the building security guard, who watches, mildly amused, or possibly disgusted, as he chews on the end of a cigarette.

6:54 a.m.—Aborted attempt to get coffee and TimBits (“for the peeing, Mama, I need a treat for the peeing!”) at the 32nd Avenue Tim Horton’s. There are two dozen cars lined up at the drive-through, and, with the three-year-old freshly peed and the five-month-old not-yet-screaming, we are not wasting any time waiting in line. We pull back onto Deerfoot.

6:55 a.m.—Three-year-old starts agitating for his TimBit. The commotion starts the five-month-old meowing.

7:00 a.m.—The meowing escalates into shrieking.

7:05 a.m.—The shrieking starts shattering eardrums. “Cinder,” Mama pleads into the back seat. “Can you give Flora a toy to settle her?”

7:06 a.m.—Exalted silence.

“Thank you, Cinder,” I say. “What did you give Flora?”

“My toe to suck, Mama,” Cinder says happily.


“Don’t worry, Mommy. I remembered. I took off my shoe.”

7:20 a.m.—We pull into the Tim Horton’s at Airdrie, Cinder’s toe no longer inFlora’s mouth (“Flora’s trying to bite my toe, Mommy! I’m taking it back!”) .Sean goes in to get coffee and TimBits. I free Flora from the restrains of thecarseat; she latches onto the nipple while I’m still struggling with the buckles.“Can I go in with Daddy?” Cinder asks. I counter with the “you have no shoes”argument. “But, Mommy,” he says, “I took my shoes off so Flora could suck my toes. We can just put them back on.”

7:25 a.m.—Flora interrupts her boobie-sucking to explode. I commence changing her, in the car, on my lap. “Stinky!” cries Cinder, not being of the camp that maintains breastfed baby poops don’t smell. “Gross!” cry I, as Irealize that the diaper contains only about a quarter of the total poop amount.

7:35 a.m.—Sean returns with the coffee and TimBits. He stares at the dirty diaper and pile of mustard-coloured wipes on his seat. He thinks about saying something, then sighs instead and gathers them up. “Give me the sleeper,” he says, extrapolating from the number of wipes—and the fact that Flora is now wearing new clothes—that we had a blow out. “I’ll go rinse it off,” I say. “I have to wash my hands anyway.” “I wasn’t going to wash it,” he says, appalled. “I was just going to throw it out with the diaper.” “But it’s a brand new sleeper!”I protest.

7:37 a.m. —Having succeeded in transferring some of the poop on the sleeper to my hands, elbows, and clothes, I toss the sleeper into the Tim Horton’s garbage.

7:45 a.m.—We leave Airdrie. “It took us an hour to get to Airdrie?” Sean laments. “The TimBits are all gone,” Cinder announces. Flora falls asleep. “Don’t worry,” I say. “They’ll both sleep the rest of the way.”

7:50 a.m.—I stand knee-deep in water in a ditch beside Highway 2, a barefoot Cinder, pants around his ankles, squirming in my arms. “Okay, baby, pee,” I say. He squirms some more. “Mommy, take off my pants. Quick! Quick! I’m going to poop.” And a row of transport trucks zooms by……

11:45 a.m.—We meander through the extremely slow traffic on GatewayBoulevard past the Edmonton city limits sign. “Remember when this used to be a less-than-three hour drive?” I say wistfully. Cinder, who fell asleep a mere four minutes earlier, snores gently. Flora lets out a loud belch.

A more common losing cup.

I’m on the road and then in the wilds for the next 10-12 days, and generally unplugged. I’ve got a few posts auto-scheduled for your enjoyment, but I won’t be able to respond to comments until I get back.

Did you catch Happy Canada Day, made complicated yesterday? It’s worth reading.

One thought on “Road trip survival tips when travelling with infants–not

  1. Pingback: Pack-it-all-in Monday | Nothing By The Book Days

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