As I continued hitting the snooze button on the alarm clock this morning I began hearing my 3-year-old son calling for me to come get him out of bed (amazingly, he won’t get out of bed until I come get him). During those few minutes of reintroducing myself to the world, my mind wandered to our planned family trip to the beach this summer.
We haven’t figured out the details yet, but my mind has already been wandering to the sleeping arrangements for mom, dad and son, especially if he ends up having to stay in the same room as us. I guess I'm still getting used to traveling with a child.
We have traveled a number of times with our son, beginning with a four-hour drive to grandma’s house when he was 6 weeks old. He handled that drive miraculously well, so I guess he has the travel bug in him too. He tends to do well on the drives. It’s the hotel stays that stress me out. This kid can be a beast to get to sleep in an unfamiliar place.
We have stayed in houses, hotels and condos with our son, all leading to different sleeping arrangements. When he was a baby, it was actually a bit easier. We just sat up his Pack n Play, laid him on his back and went about our business.
His first beach trip to Gulf Shores, Ala., came when he was 10 months old, and we shared a three-bedroom condo with two other couples and their boys, both roughly seven to nine months older than ours. We were lucky that trip in that we won the coin toss and got the master bedroom. So we sat up the Pack n Play in the walk-in closet, giving us a bit of privacy. The other two couples were not as fortunate, having normal bedrooms: one bed, one Pack n Play and no privacy.
We haven’t been as fortunate other times. Last year, for example, we stayed in a condo in Destin, Fla., with some friends. The three of us had to stay in the same room. It had two beds, so he slept in his own twin bed. No problems really as he slept well and we could somewhat come and go quietly after we got him to sleep. The comical thing was when I would wake up each morning, the second my eyes opened he would scream out, “Hey Daddy! It’s time to get up.” He was waiting for me. No sleeping in on that trip.
Other trips to hotel rooms have provided various experiences. When he was younger and still sleeping in the Pack n Play I would get a room with two beds so it would usually have space between one of the beds and the wall so we could put him there. Not to create privacy for ourselves, as much as to keep the lights from reaching him. I’ve rearranged bedroom furniture, creating barriers between him and us. It usually works except one night in Mobile, Ala., when I think he woke up during the night freaked out not knowing where he was or where we were.
As our son has graduated to a bigger bed things have gotten trickier. We’ve gotten rooms with a king-size bed so we could just all get in together. I’ve gotten rooms with two beds. But not one for him alone. No, this boy has to have me there.
It can be quite miserable on a trip to put a child to bed only to realize you still have two or three hours before you would like to do the same. The choices are simple: get creative with finding privacy – and a way to minimize the lights reaching him – or get 12 hours of sleep.
I know there are a lot of parents out there who face similar issues when traveling with babies and toddlers. I’m curious how others handle this situation. I guess I could always spring for a suite, although those rooms aren’t the ones I tend to find on Priceline.com.