My husband travels to Washington, D.C. for work at least once per year and he always wants the kids and me to come along on the trip. The perks are great: we get a free hotel room or apartment (depending on the length of the trip), reimbursed transportation, and since the Smithsonian museums are free, very inexpensive entertainment. Plus, the fact that my husband wants me and the kids around, instead of getting two weeks of peace and quiet, well, that’s amazing, too.
So, when my husband came home the other night and announced he had to take a two-week trip to D.C. this summer, and, of course, he wanted us to come, I should have felt lucky or grateful. Instead, I’m whining. Why? I’m nervous about taking a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old around Washington, D.C. all by myself.
The first time we went on the DC trip, B was only 18 months old and I was a couple of months pregnant with N. It was a great trip. We went to Manassas, VA when N was 17 months old and back to DC when N was 22 months old. On those trips, one or both children were happy to ride in the stroller for most, if not the entire day. Strollers have their downsides, but I felt safe with at least one child strapped in, plus I had somewhere to put our stuff. Believe it or not, even a double Bob stroller fits through the security gates at the Smithsonian and is surprisingly easy to navigate around the city.
Now that N is almost three, he spends very little time in the stroller. We recently went to the Turtle Back Zoo and it was tough keeping track of both kids. I often see a mother out and about with three or more children and wonder how she manages to keep them all together. When I’m out with both of my boys, I’ve started setting up expectations with them before we even get out of the car. I tell them we are going to have a lot of fun, but there are a few rules: no running away from mommy. Make sure you can always see me. You must hold mommy’s hand when we are near a road or on the sidewalk. Listen to me. We are not buying any toys. N has heard this speech so many times, he starts reciting it as soon as I say the word ‘rule.’ I know doing this has been helpful, but this speech is just for Barnes & Noble, not the National Mall.
As I stated before, I should feel lucky. We don’t have alot of extra money, so big vacations are not in our budget right now. I moved to New Jersey 16 years ago and love the proximity to so many amazing places. Since moving here, I’ve travelled up and down the eastern coast and have enjoyed every trip. My husband, who grew up in New Jersey, fondly remembers the trips he took with his family when he was a child. Thinking back on my own childhood, many of my favorite memories include trips to the zoo and family vacations.
Should I shy away from this great opportunity because the trip will be a little more stressful for me? Because I have to carry a heavier bag? Handcuff my kids to my arm? After thinking about it for a couple of days, and writing this post, I’ve decided I need to change my attitude. After all, we’ll get to see the dinosaur bones in the Museum of Natural History and the view from the Washington Monument. We’ll play in the Spark! Lab and sit in the subway car at the Museum of American History. We’ll spend a day (or maybe two!) at the National Zoo because we love the pandas and the elephants. And maybe I’ll be able to let go of their hands long enough to take a few pictures. I’m glad I have a couple of months to work on my speech and buy a comfortable backpack.
This is an original post for Jersey Moms Blog by Elizabethsboys, a New Jersey mom.
Photo credit given to Washington DC Go.