Surviving a road trip with a toddler & baby

It’s now been a week since we arrived back home after our 4500+km road trip.  The holidays are over, our bags are all unpacked, new toys and books have all been put away, and we have returned to a somewhat modified routine, as Daddy has still been on holidays.

In what may seem like a strange turn of events… we not only survived our trip, but we were still speaking to each other at the end of it, and even enjoyed ourselves just a little bit!  My husband even commented that he was ‘surprised’ we were not at each other’s throats during our travels- should I be a little concerned that he thought we would be?!?!

It’s just now on this thankfully cool Sunday morning (seriously the weather in Brisbane has been crazy – even the water in our pool was hot yesterday), that I’ve had a chance to sit down and put together my top tips for car travel with kids.  By no means do I consider myself an ‘expert’ but considering we travelled 1700km each way down to Victoria with an almost two year old and a seven month old and not only did we survive, but we have said we would do it again – I figure I should share some tips on what worked for us!

  • Dry Erase Board – we had a lot of fun drawing pictures and writing our names on the boards.  The crayons were a great size for our little man to hold and draw with.  It was also an opportunity to learn about different colours and shapes that we drew.

car travel 1

  • Board Books – easy to handle/turn pages for the little ones.  You  can also pack a few of them as they don’t take up too much space.  the ones that come in a little box/suitcase are great – Just as much time was spent pointing out all the trucks/cars/diggers etc on the box the books came in as was spent on the actual reading of them.
  • Food…..  Our big boy likes to think he is eating at a buffet ALL OF THE TIME….  so having little bags filled with different foods was great fun for him.  We had grapes, strawberries, apple, dry biscuits, vegemite sandwiches and fruit bars.  Also the squeezie yoghurts were a big hit.  I also made sure to have food handy for our little man, so I could feed him whilst we were travelling.
Yes.. he is eating a paddle pop.  Bribery again at its best!

Yes.. he is eating a paddle pop. Bribery again at its best!

  • Audio Books and Kids Music – I’m not sure what it is about the Wiggles, but everytime we put it on the boys would go into a daze and inevitably fall asleep.  It was amazing, our big boy could be on the brink of a meltdown but as soon as he heard the opening line of Hot Potato he would instantly chill out!  We think there must be some subliminal message behind the music that adults don’t hear!  The Roald Dahl audio books were also a big winner, especially the us – we really enjoyed listening to stories we had also grown up with.
Thank you Wiggles!

Thank you Wiggles!

  • Bribery… All I will say is that this worked a treat!!!  Especially when our big boy would just start to lose it when there was only 20kms or so to go.
Bribery - this is what you get if you are a good boy.

Bribery – this is what you get if you are a good boy.

  • Lastly, and maybe most importantly – Don’t have a plan.  This was a hard one for me since I always like to be super organised.  We had vague ideas as to where we’d like to stop for breaks and stay overnight, but we really let how the boys (and us) were feeling dictate where and when we stopped.  If they were asleep, we would keep on going, if they were starting to get cranky we’d stop.  I spent a lot of time sitting in the back with the boys, which whilst it was a bit cramped, I really did enjoy.  We had a mostly great time singing songs, reading and just being silly to help pass the time.
Even our little man got in on the action!

Even our little man played silly games with us!

What are your top tips for travelling in the car with kids – safe travels to everyone on the roads over this holiday period x

PS…

You may remember a couple of weeks ago I wrote about my illusion we wouldn’t need technology to keep us amused on our trip. The iPad did come in handy a couple of times times (a big thanks to The Multitasking Mummy for her kids app recommendations), as a distraction when we were getting back in the car – our big boy has a strange fascination with ‘Daddy’s keys’ to the point he becomes quite obsessed with getting his hands on them.  The iPad was a great way to distract him for 10/15 minutes until we were on the road again and he would move on to something else.

Our Bedtime Routine

It’s no secret that I like to be organised – or at least feel like I am organised!  Having a routine is vital for me to get through the day – especially with the two boys  When Liam was around 10 weeks old, I made the decision to start following a routine, especially around bedtime.  It was starting to get ridiculous – his bedtime kept stretching out further and further, until he was going to bed after 10pm.  I know routines are not for everyone, but in those early days I was willing to try anything to help me feel more in control. Then following Aiden’s arrival, it became more important for me to have some kind of structure for bedtime, otherwise things would quickly go downhill fast – as I discovered a few too many times!

In our house, it’s an early dinner for the boys before we head upstairs for baths, stories and milk before bed.  Bath time has always been one of the highlights of our day, if Liam is in a cranky mood (which often happens around the infamous ‘witching hour’), having a play and wash in the bath always cheers him up – especially when Aiden joins him in there.

It can be easy to get caught up in the processes of getting the boys ready for bed, I found myself on ‘autopilot’ bathing and dressing the boys and getting them ready for bed, and not really enjoying the time.  I feel very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to review Johnson’s Baby Bedtime Bath, Lotion and Oil, as it’s made me slow down and enjoy our pre bed routine more.

Reading through the product information I received, it all made sense – following a three step routine – a warm bath using Johnson’s Baby Bedtime Bath, Massage with Baby Bedtime Lotion and then quiet time, is clinically proven to help babies fall asleep easier, sleep longer and perhaps most importantly reduce tension and anxiety in Mums (which I’m definitely all for!). We’ve always used Johnson’s baby products – mainly because I can remember them from my own childhood, but I hadn’t used the bedtime products since the early days with Liam.

Both the boys love having a bath together, and the bubbles create by the Bedtime Bath were a big hit!  I’m always wary of the boys skin drying out when using new products (as my skin is really prone to dryness), but they both came out smelling lovely and feeling soft.   I’ve never really given the boys a massage after their baths, it always been a quick application of sorbelene cream if needed, some nappy free time and then they are dressed.  After using the Bedtime Lotion and Oil to give Aiden a massage, I know I have been missing out!

bath

Aiden just loved his massage.  We first used the Bedtime Lotion, and then the Bedtime Baby Oil, I was only a couple of minutes in before his eyes started glazing over.  Running my hands down his arms and legs I could feel his was totally chilled out.

Not wanting to miss out, Liam then bounded over and started to give himself a massage – he was a little confused as to what the Baby Bedtime Oil was, calling it water and trying to drink it!

bath2

Amazingly, Liam was able to keep still for a few minutes whilst I rubbed in the enormous amount of Lotion and Oil he had poured onto his belly (a little goes a long way), he too began to relax and the familiar sleepy eye glaze began to take over.  Afterwards, both boys were relaxed and content as well as both smelling lovely and their skin was beautiful and soft.  Then after their bedtime milk and a story (ok a few stories) they easily went off to bed.

As well as both the boys enjoying their bath and massage, I also really enjoyed slowing down and enjoying special moments with them both.  They are both growing up too fast – Liam will be 2 next week (eek!) – and I know as they get older these special, quiet moments will become few and far between.  We’ve now made an after bath massage with our Bedtime Lotion and OIl part of our bedtime routine.  It certainly helps both of my boys wind down and relax at the end of their day, and it has been easier to settle them both in bed, and they do both sleep through the night (even if it’s not in their own bed).  Now if only Johnson’s could come up a product to help Liam sleep all night in his own bed – rather than finding him on his floor/under his bed/hallway or couch in the mornings I would really appreciate it!!

johnson and johnson

I’d love to hear from you – do you follow a bedtime routine? What do you do to help your kids wind down before bed?

Disclosure 

I received this product for the specific purpose of providing an honest review. No financial compensation was received and all opinions are my own

Christmas Leftovers – Quinoa, Vegetable and Fetta Salad & Baby Puree

Like a lot of people, I woke up this morning with a massive food hangover.  Whilst I didn’t really overeat yesterday, the food that I ate was much richer than my normal diet.  Opening the fridge today and seeing all the leftovers just waiting to be devoured over the next few days was enough to make my stomach turn.

As we had quite a few leftover veggies, and I needed to make some more food for baby Aiden, I mixed together our leftovers with some cooked quinoa as well as some feta and seeds in an attempt to return to our healthy eating ways.  It tasted great, and we didn’t need a huge amount to fill us up for lunch (I did leave room for some trifle though!).

Quinoa & Vegetable Salad

 

For Aiden’s puree, I picked out 10 or so baby spinach leaves from the salad mix we had and lightly steamed them, before adding to the quinoa and veggie mix and blitzing for around 20 seconds with a stick mixer.  Our little man loved his lunch – lucky as he will be also having it for dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow!

Baby Puree Vegies & Quinoa

 

You can use any leftover veggies that you may have, and you could also add any left over meat (e.g. chicken, turkey).  I used:

Roasted Pumpkin and Sweet Potato (approx 500g)

2 roasted carrots

2 corn cobs (kernals removed)

1 cup of cooked peas

1/2 cup of fetta cheese crumbled

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1/4 cup pepitas

1 cup of uncooked quinoa

* Cook quinoa as per instructions on packet, add vegetables, seeds and fetta and stir to combine – Serve

To make the baby puree – I steamed approx 10 baby spinach leaves in the microwave for 20 seconds, added to the quinoa and vegetables (no seeds) and blitzed with a stick mixer for approx 20 seconds.

What are you doing with your Christmas leftovers?

 

To my big boy

Mothers Guilt…. We’ve all experienced it – in many cases it can even start before the baby has arrived!  I simply love being a Mum to my two little boys, watching them growing up and helping them to discover their world is the most amazing and fulfilling job I have ever had.  My Mother’s guilt is always lurking in the background though – I will feel guilty when frustrated about having to read Dear Zoo for the 15th time, when Liam has toast for lunch if it’s one of those days, for either spending too much time with one of them when the other also wants my attention, or wishing I could spend more quality time with them one on one.

I had been feeling particularly guilty lately for not spending as much ‘fun’ time with Liam as I used to.  In between trying to get him to sleep in his own room through the night, our half hearted attempt at toilet training and the day to day trials of having a toddler and a baby it’s been tough.  To try and ease my guilt, I decided we’d go along to Rhyme Time at our local Library, confident that Liam would enjoy himself and we would have a fun morning out together. This is a letter I wrote to him after our day.

Dear Liam,

I know this year has been hard on you.  You didn’t understand why Mum couldn’t play with you as much when I pregnant with your little brother, or why I had to stay in hospital and leave you at home.  After your brother was born,  you barely saw us for the first four weeks as you were shipped around between different babysitters. Then this tiny little person came to live with us, someone you weren’t allowed to touch or play with, and were always being told to stay away from.

That’s why this morning was important. It was an opportunity for us to enjoy some time together, just like we used to. You love to read, sing and dance.  I wanted to have some fun with you, I don’t want to always be telling you off, or rushing around. For this half hour I want to be able to enjoy having fun and being silly with my big boy.

Once we arrive, you know where to go – straight up the back where all the other little kids are.  You are so excited, there are books everywhere! And you are allowed to pick them up, look at them and I even tell you we can take some home with us!  All by yourself, you pick a book about your favourite things – trucks…. As soon as I see it I smile, you really are too clever.

We find a spot, and even though your friends are there, you still want to sit on my knee.  You are so excited to have found your truck book you are loudly pointing out all the different trucks you can see. Aiden senses that we need this time, just the two of us.  He happily watches us from the pram, all smiles.

As they are getting ready to start, you glance up to see what all the fuss is about.  The music starts, and you pause from your book to see what is going on. The singing starts and you see the other children stand up and start dancing about.

You clap your hands, a huge smile spreading across your face.

You join in the actions, all the while still clutching at your book.

You are so happy, you are having fun

You look back at me to make sure I’m still there.

Watching you wriggle around dancing makes my heart melt.

Afterwards, you run around having fun with your friends, looking at more books – all the while with a big smile on your face.  These are the moments I will remember when I’m getting cranky or frustrated, these are the moments that remind me why I love being your Mum.

xx

music man

Dear Aiden- 6 months

Dear Aiden,

Tomorrow it will be six months since you came into our world.  You are our happy and cuddly little man. You are relaxed and content, just happy to sit back and take in the chaos around you.

I love how your eyes light up when you see me first thing in the morning

I love that you will break out into a big happy smile when I talk and sing to you

I love watching you laugh and smile at your big brother

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I love watching you explore and take in the world around you

I love the time we spend together, just the two of us

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I love that you need me

I love that I am more confident looking after you than I was with your brother

I love that you are with us

You have come so far over the past six months, and I love seeing more of your little personality coming through. Although in some ways I feel like I am grieving the newborn phase.

I miss our special, quiet moments during the night when it was just the two of us awake.

I miss your happy and contented face as you would drift back to sleep with a full tummy.

I even miss the times when you would wake up just for a cuddle, when all you wanted was your Mum.

There are no words special enough to describe the joy and love you have bought our family.  My heart swells when I hear you cheeky little laugh, when you grab hold of my finger and simply when you stare into my eyes and smile.

We love you Aiden

Love Mum xx

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Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT

 

 

World Prematurity Day

Reaching 20 weeks is a major milestone in pregnancy.  You’re ‘halfway’ through, you have a scan to check on bub (and find out the sex if you can’t wait like me!), the excitement builds and you start preparing for the arrival of your special baby.

If you are at risk of premature birth, this can change, with the arrival of 20 weeks bringing you all the more closer to the 24 week milestone, otherwise known as ‘viability’.

It feels like such a cold and clinical way to describe your baby.  However it is at this point that most Doctors and Hospitals will go ahead with lifesaving measures to help your baby survive (although I have heard of some babies being treated at 23 weeks).

We were introduced to the term viability during our first pregnancy, when I was admitted to hospital at 20 weeks.  In a short space of time, we went from being blissfully unaware of the complications which can occur during a pregnancy, to discussing how much further along I would need to be before I would be given steroid injections (to help our babies lungs), and at what point they would perform ‘life saving measures’ on our babies.  For us, we fell short of the ‘magic’ 24 weeks, with our daughter and son being born just shy of 21 weeks.

Knowing from the outset of our next pregnancy that it was going to be high risk, and the risk of another premature delivery was there, our goal was 24 weeks.  I started counting down the days to this milestone from the time our pregnancy was confirmed. We didn’t tell many people that I was pregnant, initially I didn’t want anyone to know until we were past that 24 week mark.  Then after numerous hospital admissions starting at 17 weeks, we started to share our news, with the thought that if something did happen to our baby, we wanted people to know about him, and acknowledge him.

I reached 24 weeks with the celebration being marred with the news I would be staying in hospital until Liam arrived.  We knew all the stats. We knew each week the chances of Liam surviving if he arrived early increased, as the chances of him developing a disability decreased.  We toured the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and Special Care Nursery (SCN).  I met with lactation consultants who educated me about expressing and feeding a premature baby.

We thought we were prepared.  We weren’t.  When Liam arrived at 30 weeks + 6 days, he was quickly shown to us and whisked away.  It wasn’t until several minutes later that we could hear his faint cries, and while I couldn’t see him, and was straining to hear, that small sound bought me to tears – our baby was alive.

There were similar feelings when I became pregnant with Aiden.  Again the countdown to 24 weeks started, with this milestone coinciding with Easter, I again eagerly counted down the days, with a strange mix of apprehension and relief as the day drew closer. Then when I was still pregnant (and at home!!) at 31 weeks, we celebrated…  thinking it may be possible that I could go close to full term! Like our babies, our celebration was premature.  Four days later I was back in hospital – just two doors up from where I’d stayed prior to having Liam, and chatting with the midwives who had previously looked after me.  The sense of deja vu continued, when Aiden was born at 32 weeks + 1 day – we were in the same theatre, our same obstetrician, the same ob assisting and the same anethatist.  This time, Aiden cried when he was delivered (and also weed all over me!), and we got to spend a few seconds more with him before he was taken to NICU.  Being thrown back into the NICU/SCN world after only leaving it 16 months before felt like we had never left.  As soon as I walked onto the floor, the smell of the NICU hits you and all of the memories come flooding back with a huge force.

We are fortunate, we had relatively smooth journeys with both of the boys during their NICU/SCN stays and there are no long term issues that we are aware of.  Once home, there have been the odd bumps in the road, and the anxiety of having a prem baby/child never fully goes away.   You are often anxious, are they putting on enough weight, is their development delayed, will a simple cold put them back into hospital? Often this isn’t helped by well meaning people,  who will compare their full term child’s development with yours or strangers who comment on how small your child is, when they ask how old they are, and when you say they were born early they go so far as to ask what the cause of their prematurity was – I was once asked ‘what was wrong with you?’ by a complete stranger whilst shopping with Liam in Woolies.

Today is World Prematurity Day.  The aim of today is to raise the awareness of premature birth and the journey families go on not only whilst their little ones are in hospital, but often for the rest of their lives.  It is a day to celebrate our little fighters and an opportunity to remember those babies who didn’t survive, by lighting a candle at 7pm.

Today I will be giving our little miracles extra hugs, and reflect on the long and crazy journey we have been through to have them here with us.  We will also be lighting a candle tonight in memory of Amber and Riley, and all the other babies who were born too soon and taken from us.

Have a wonderful Sunday

xx

world prematurity day 2013

Linking up with the Multitasking Mummy for Mummy Mondays