What your parents forget to tell you about traveling with kids

I’m mentally trying to prepare myself for a few airplane flights along with my 21-month-old son, yet work remains to be done here at the office. Ross Martin My Thoughts, Exactly

This work I feel comfortable doing. I’ve been doing it for a long time. I have a special bond with newspapers. We understand each other. I’m not really sure that being “that guy” with the baby on the plane can be considered a specialty. I’ve never done this before. Of course, my wife will be there, and during our short odyssey as parents I’ve learned one very important thing: with her, all tasks can be conquered. She already flew with our son once earlier this year — by herself, leaving me behind a blubbering mess at KCI Airport preparing for a weekend alone with my wiener dog. I might shed tears of a different kind this time around. There are plenty of you reading this column with way more experience parenting than me. Many of you are probably smirking to yourself and thinking, “It only gets worse kid.” Others can probably commiserate with me, thinking back to their own recent or not-so-recent travails from similar situations. For those that don’t have kids, I’ll let you in on a little secret: travel becomes a painful burden once you decide to expand your family. It’s torture. My wife and I stayed up until after midnight attempting to finish the packing on Monday night. I finally gave up and just watched in awe as my wife’s OCD tendencies took over in her preparation rituals. Pack the shoes, the clothes, the books, the technology, the sunscreen, the toiletries, the squeezy applesauce packets. The list didn’t seem to end, yet ended up fitting in two large suitcases and two bulky carry-on bags. We’re going to San Antonio for four days. You’d think we were camping in Antarctica for two weeks based on the amount of items being taken with us. I remember being able to pack for long weekends at 22 with just a backpack. No more of that. But hey, I’m just glad I remembered underwear this time. The last time I packed for a trip by myself, I didn’t, which is why my wife is always in charge at this point. I can’t be trusted. But not just long trips can cause problems, and we’ve had plenty of those in the past two years. Road trips to Nebraska, Minnesota and other locales in the state. The short trips you used to take for granted suddenly become an art project. Departures and arrivals must be planned around nap time. Don’t forget to think about food for the baby/toddler. How late can you stay before bed time becomes needed? Did you bring enough toys and reading material to entertain this tiny ball of energy? You generally never get it all right. You just hope to avoid complete disasters. I’ve only been to one Royals game this year, and you want to know a big reason why? I just don’t want to mess with all the hassle involved in making that trip. The other option is to seek out a babysitter, and we do enough of that already. Note: this also can be a hassle, but thank god for helpful family members. Some of your friends will remain confused at why you don’t just drop everything and join get-togethers like you used to do. Bringing a toddler to Sunday brunch? Sneaking away for a night out at the bar? Buy some last-minute GA tickets at Kauffman Stadium? What are you nuts? I haven’t had nearly enough time to prepare for those trips. You’re going to have to start booking this out a few months in advance, and even then, we will put it on the calendar and will encounter major problems anyway. Sick kid, babysitter cancellation, change to work schedule, exhaustion. Let’s face it. It’s probably not going to work out. Why don’t we try again in say 13 years? I’m really hoping this trip goes well, and I’m sure it will. We often receive compliments on our happy, well-behaved baby. After all, my wife survived alone, so two has to be better than one, right? Maybe we will even see improvements like we do in other aspects of parenting, like not freaking out every time there’s a poopy diaper. If my wife agreed to do this again, it can’t be that bad, but if this goes wrong, I might just cancel all vacations for a few decades.

Ross Martin is publisher of The Citizen. He may be reached via email at editor@plattecountycitizen.com. Follow him on Twitter: @Citizen_Ross.