I’ve always been a big fan of getting out of the house with the babies. From the time mine were about two weeks old, we’ve been taking walks and going to new mom groups. I tried to balance the need for fresh air with the whole preemie/germ thing, but thankfully it was late summer, so not prime germ season. And, frankly, I think staying inside with two newborns is the shortest road to crazy.
Being out and about has its phases of being hard, getting easier, and becoming harder again. With newborns, it seems hard at first because there’s just so much stuff to think of and bring with you. But you figure it out quickly, and then there’s a few weeks when it’s really easy, because babies sleep most of the day, and often don’t mind sleeping in carseats. Wahoo! And then… they stop sleeping so much. It gets harder again, because being awake more of the time also means being fussy more of the time. But then you start to get into a somewhat predictable rhythm, and it gets easier again… sort of.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m a big fan of schedules and routine. Not excessively rigid ones, but somewhat firm. I need that kind of predictability, and my kids seem to do well with it. The trouble is that, with our current two-nap schedule, there’s really only one good time of day to go out and do something: about 3pm. Otherwise, you risk messing with the naps, and that’s not a good thing in my world. So, my short outings tend to be contained to the 3-5pm window. It’s tricky, but at least I know what to expect.
Well, we decided to shake it up a little. Some very good friends of ours live about an hour away from us. They’ve done a lot of major work on their house recently, plus they just found out they’re (surprise!) expecting baby no. 3 (their two sons are almost 8 and 3.5). They have kindly come to us a few times since the kids were born, and we haven’t been out there in nearly a year. We were overdue for a visit. But two long car trips? Good lord, what would that do to my precious nap/sleep schedule? Sometimes you just have to live on the edge…
The plan was this: put them in the car at afternoon nap time and hope they sleep in the car for at least the 45-60 minutes we’d be on the road, hang out with friends and hope the novelty keeps them entertained, leave around bedtime and hope they fall asleep in the car. Admittedly, there was a lot of hoping in this plan. It made M more than a little nervous. But, I’m happy to say, it worked out pretty darn well!
Right as they were getting tired for their usual afternoon nap, we packed them into the car. As I hoped, they were asleep by the time we merged onto the highway, and woke up when we pulled into our friends’ driveway. About 45 minutes, which was short, but acceptable. While the car is no longer the guaranteed ticket to dreamland that it once was, I do find it works darn well if timed with the usual naps. I brought a big bag o’ bottles, diapers, food, change of clothes, favorite toys, etc. The new scenery and faces was slightly overwhelming, but mostly served to keep them occupied. Plus, there were several extra hands to pass them along. Rebecca caught a catnap in my friend’s arms, and Daniel was Mr. Sociable the whole time. We even managed to sit at a table and eat (early, but delicious) dinner with friends! Wow!
We did end up leaving near bedtime (around 6:30), though obviously without the usual bath and such. Daniel immediately passed out, but Rebecca was awake. Her squawking from the backseat indicated she was hungry, so we pulled into a McDonald’s to get some water for a bottle. Daniel woke up as well, so M hopped in the backseat at fed them both while I continued driving. The bottle and the presence of funny daddy kept them awake (though a bit glazed) the rest of the ride. When we got home, it was straight to sleep sacks, finish the bottle, sing a few songs, and in bed. Would you believe we didn’t hear a peep from them? I was worried that they’d fight going to sleep, but that was not the case. Hooray!
Anyways, I’m proud. I tend to adhere fairly strictly to my routine, which has definitely resulted in not doing certain things, because it would throw things off-kilter. But it appears that, if I plan carefully and use the schedule to my advantage, there’s more we can do than I might have thought!