5 Tips to Maintain Sanity While Traveling Alone with a Baby
Okay, let me start with this, going on a road trip ALONE with your child could go one of two ways: they could sleep well, be in the best mood ever, laugh and be merry OR it could be hell. When you’re traveling solo with your kiddo and they scream and cry the whole way, you start asking yourself so many questions, like…
- What did I do to deserve this?
- Why is this happening?
- Did I screw up in a past life or something?
- Why won’t he/she stop crying?
- Is this the sixth time we’ve stopped?
- Am I really still wearing house slippers?
This list goes on and on, honestly. And the thing is, you never know how a car ride is going to go. And you can’t be afraid, but you definitely shouldn’t just wing it, either. I thought I could do this. I think deep down I was really anxious about traveling but I pretended like I was fine. I went through all the motions but once my husband shut my car door, I knew. I knew I was about to have the worst day of my life. I figured it would be a good idea to put Leo in his seat just before he fell asleep. I’d done it so many times before and he just mumbles until he falls into a solid state of sleep. WRONG. Of all the days, my child decided to protest the car seat about 45 minutes into the trip. Never has he done this. But he decided he hated it and nothing I could do would change his mine… for the next seven hours (it only takes three hours to get to our destination, mind you).
We stopped at multiple gas stations, hotels and the entrance to a cemetery (don’t ask- it was a really weird exit). I thought I was going to crack. I called my husband probably 20+ times, crying and saying one too many choice words. I could feel myself getting hot and I knew it was only time before I broke. And I did. It was my worst moment, so far, as a parent. I yelled and immediately started crying. I just sat there and cried and he was crying and I had done everything I could to calm him down and nothing was working. I felt so defeated. I was so afraid to keep driving, yet I was so close to my destination.
Long story short, I made it. We both made it. He screamed so much that as soon as stopped, he threw up all over himself and the back seat. I quickly got him out and as soon as he realized we were done in the car, he squeezed me so tight and I started crying. I had to remind myself that the only ways for him to communicate with me are to laugh and cry. He was scared and he just wanted me there to ensure he was safe. My heart ached. I knew two things: we needed to get a new car seat ASAP (one where he wasn’t so hunched and could see out the window) and I needed to figure out how to get home.
I’m currently writing this as we are figuring out the new car seat (HUZZAH!). We decided to go with a Graco 4ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat because my sister, Lindsay, told me her daughter literally did the same thing a few months back and this car seat saved her life. Fingers crossed it saves mine, too.
So, are you ready for the five tips? Me, too. When you figure those out, please let me know. KIDDING. But if you have MORE tips, feel free to leave a comment so other mamas (including myself) can take note!
- MENTAL PREPARATION: Make sure you mentally prepare yourself for a long trip with a baby, especially if you’re going solo. I did not do this and it literally bit me in the arse. Next time, though… I’ll be mentally prepared as heck! I may have to take a few months to do it but I WILL SURVIVE!
- PATIENCE: Remember that you will make multiple stops and that’s just a part of it. Be patient. Plan on stopping every 2-3 hours.
- KEEP THEM MADE IN THE SHADE: Make sure your little one is out of the sun. Let’s face it, no one like the sun beaming down right into their eyeballs. I would be screaming, too.
- MUSIC!! This is a big one. Yeah, I like jamming to Bruno BUT when Leo is screaming, he hates most all music and will scream even louder if he hears it. I’ve managed to find a few really good artists on Spotify that can help calm him (kind of). If nothing works, make up songs.
- LET THEM KNOW YOU ARE THERE: If you’re driving at night make sure to remember that if your little guy or gal wakes up and it’s completely dark they will probably start crying and this will turn into blood-curdling screaming REAL QUICK… so figure out a way to let them know you’re there. Maybe talk to them, turn a light on, do the one-arm-reach-back and rub their head… then maybe go ahead and plan on pulling off on the next exit to calm them, get out and walk with them, etc.
Like I said before, not all babies are crazy screamers and have extreme separation anxiety issues but some do. Leo is one of them.
Hang in there, mama.