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How to Survive a Road Trip with a Baby

How to Survive a Road Trip with a Baby

My daughter was two months old when my wife and I embarked on a drive from Maine to southern New Jersey to attend my sister-in-law’s beach wedding. That’s over one thousand miles of driving in one long weekend.

It was the first trip of any distance we’d taken as new parents, and we were appropriately terrified about, well, everything.

The cool thing was that not only did we survive, but the trip brought us a lot closer as a family. After we made it back home safely, my wife and I both felt like we could tackle pretty much anything and everything that parenting threw at us.

That feeling lasted about a week, but it was a cool feeling.

Here are a few things that worked (and didn’t work) on that trip, which I hope translate into useful tips that help you out if you are planning to take a road trip with your baby.

Timing Is Everything

Avoid Traffic When Travelling With a Baby

    At two months old, our daughter was starting to sleep for longer stretches in the evening, so we decided to travel at night on the ride down. We departed after dinner and bath time—right around the time when we’d normally be settling her in for the night, and this worked perfectly.

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    Not only did we enjoy 2- and 3-hour stretches during which she slept comfortably and quietly in her car seat with a full belly, but we were also able to travel past Boston and New York City without hitting any traffic, reducing our time on the road.

    Our daughter had basically the same amount of sleep she usually got in an evening, so when we arrived in New Jersey we were tired, but she was well rested and happy, which made the weekend great.

    The ride home was a different story—my pending work schedule forced us to depart first thing, the day after the ceremony. That 9-hour drive turned into a 14-hour marathon that had us leaving dirty diapers and little pieces of our sanity at every rest stop between Cape May and Portland, Maine.

    My advice is to get your rest, drink plenty of caffeine, and then drive through the night if you can. This way you can avoid traffic and make the drive stress-free for you and your baby.

    Be Intentional: Plan How You’ll Pack

    Plan How You Will Pack For Your Trip

      Life with a newborn can feel like one never-ending loop where you’re doing laundry, rocking a tiny version of yourself as you pace up and down your hallways, and trying to unscrew the cap on the orange juice with one hand.

      It’s easy in this dream-state to tell yourself that the sooner you leave, the sooner you’ll get there, and to simply throw everything into the back of your car when you’re prepping for a road trip with a baby.

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      Don’t do it.

      Take some time and carefully plan where you’ll put everything. Make sure you have a nursing pillow and blanket or nursing cover handy for your partner (who can sleep on these while the baby is sleeping to stay rested), pack some snacks that offer a good mix of the nutrition you need to stay alert and energized, bring plenty of water, and create a changing station inside the car.

      We found that it worked really well for my wife to ride in the backseat with our daughter, and I packed our duffel bags on the passenger-side floor in the front seat. This allowed me to lay a quilt down on the seat next to me and over the duffel bags, and I used this for a changing station. I had Purell sanitizer and baby lotion in the cup holder, diapers tucked in between the seat and center console, and the wipes were wedged in safely near the glove compartment.

      When our daughter awoke, I pulled over and my wife passed her up to me. I could change her comfortably without opening the car to the sound of 18-wheelers roaring past, and then I’d pass our daughter back to my wife so she could nurse and get settled for the next leg of the trip.

      It worked like a charm—our daughter stayed warm and comfortable, she was in dry diapers every time we departed a pit stop, and she was never blasted awake by opening and closing the car doors next to the highway.

      Be Honest with Yourself about What You Need

      Packing for a Road Trip With a Baby

        You’re going to over-pack.

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        Even if you say to yourself right now that you aren’t going to over-pack, you’re wrong.

        I’m here to tell you that it’s going to happen.

        But I’m also here to encourage you to try to be less psychotic about bringing every baby-soothing item you own, especially if you’re traveling to visit family.

        What I’ve learned during my short time as a parent is that your family is awesome, they love your daughter, and they will (without fail) have 10,000 bags of baby clothes and over-the-top gifts you never would have purchased waiting for you, every time you arrive.

        If you pack too much of your own stuff, you won’t have room for everything they give you when it’s time to go home, and the truth is that even if you aren’t going to visit family, you’ll only use about half of what you’re planning to bring anyway (and packing extra just means extra trips to and from the car).

        So take inventory, check yourself, and leave that seventeenth colorful toy with the bell inside it in the nursery.

        Keep a Sense of Humor: You’re in This Together

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        Keep a Sense of Humor When Taking a Road Trip with a Baby

          If there’s one last thing I’ve learned during my short time as a parent, it’s that it’s not an easy job. The responsibility I feel all day, every day, is overwhelming, and it is often difficult for me to keep my stress level low.

          Add travel to the mix, and it’s easy for things to go sideways.

          But one thing that has made it easy for me to become a half-decent parent is the fact that I have a fantastic wife.

          She is great to share a laugh with when our little one rips a toot during a romantic moment, and when I get terrified that we’re doing something to permanently screw up this little angel we created, she’s there to calm me down and back me up.

          On our first family road trip, I learned quickly that you don’t have to be a perfect parent, but you should try to be a perfect team. The ride you’re on is supposed to be bumpy, but it’s an amazing one if you make an effort to go with the flow, support one another, and keep a sense of humor.

          Featured photo credit: Pixabay / PublicDomainPictures via pixabay.com

          More by this author

          Joe Hessert

          Writer, Digital Marketing Professional

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          Published on April 9, 2021

          50 Single Mom Quotes On Staying Strong And Loving

          50 Single Mom Quotes On Staying Strong And Loving

          Being a mom is not easy. Being a single mom is even more challenging. Having children means you are on the job 24/7. Even while you are sleeping, you are still ready to wake at the slightest peep because that is what moms do.

          Moms, especially single moms, need more people cheering them on. Your love and care matter to your kids. You are their superhero. I think single moms are superheroes, too.

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          The quotes below are words of encouragement for all of the single moms out there. Keep up the great work! Your hard work will pay off. Someday, they will be grown up and living on their own. Your job will never truly be done as a mom, but you can pat yourself on the back today and every day for doing mom duty day in and day out.

          Here are 50 single mom quotes to encourage all the single moms out there.

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          1. “Being raised by a single mother, I learned to appreciate and value independent women.”—Kenny Conley
          2. “As a single mum you’ll discover inner strengths and capabilities you never knew you had.”—Emma-Louise Smith
          3. “One thing I know for sure – this motherhood thing is not for sissies.”—Jennifer Nettles
          4. “Mothers and their children are in a category all their own. There’s no bond so strong in the entire world. No love so instantaneous and forgiving.”—Gail Tsukiyama
          5. “And one day she discovered that she was fierce and strong, and full of fire and that not even she could hold herself back because her passion burned brighter than her fears.”—Mark Anthony
          6. “She never quite leaves her children at home, even when she doesn’t take them along.”—Margaret Culkin Banning
          7. “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”—Alice Walker
          8. “Everyone has inside of her a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be, how much you can love, what you can accomplish, and what your potential is.”—Anne Frank
          9. “Doubt is a killer. You just have to know who you are and what you stand for.”—Jennifer Lopez
          10. “You are more powerful than you know; you are beautiful just as you are.”—Melissa Etheridge
          11. “Motherhood is the greatest thing and the hardest thing.”—Ricki Lake
          12. “You don’t take a class; you’re thrown into motherhood and learn from experience.”—Jennie Finch
          13. “If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more. If you look at what you don’t have in life, you’ll never have enough.”—Oprah Winfrey
          14. “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”—Charlotte Brontë
          15. “Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.”—Nora Ephron
          16. “When a woman becomes her own best friend life is easier.”—Diane Von Furstenberg
          17. “If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.”—Margaret Thatcher
          18. “Women have discovered that they cannot rely on men’s chivalry to give them justice.”—Helen Keller
          19. “Successful mothers are not the ones that have never struggled. They are the ones that never give up, despite the struggles.”—Sharon Jaynes
          20. “Success, they taught me, is built on the foundation of courage, hard work, and individual responsibility. Despite what some would have us believe, success is not built on resentment and fears.”—Susana Martinez
          21. “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”—Maya Angelou
          22. “The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.”—Ayn Rand
          23. “God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers.”—Rudyard Kipling
          24. “The women whom I love and admire for their strength and grace did not get that way because stuff worked out. They got that way because stuff went wrong, and they handled it. They handled it in a thousand different ways on a thousand different days, but they handled it. Those women are my superheroes.”—Elizabeth Gilbert
          25. “There will be so many times you feel like you failed. But in the eyes, ears, and mind of your child, you are a SUPER MOM.”—Stephanie Precourt
          26. “Motherhood is the ultimate call to sacrifice.”—Wangechi Mutu
          27. “We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.”—Maya Angelou
          28. “A mother’s arms are more comforting than anyone else’s.”—Princess Diana
          29. “There’s no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.”—Jill Churchill
          30. “There’s no doubt that motherhood is the best thing in my life. It’s all that really matters.”—Courtney Cox
          31. “I realized when you look at your mother, you are looking at the purest love you will ever know.”—Mitch Albom
          32. “I have found being a mother has made me emotionally raw in many situations. Your heart is beating outside your body when you have a baby.”—Kate Beckinsale
          33. “Single moms, you are a doctor, a teacher, a nurse, a maid, a cook, a referee, a heroine, a provider, a defender, a protector, a true Superwoman. Wear your cape proudly.”—Mandy Hale
          34. “I’m not really single. I mean, I am, but I have a son. Being a single mother is different from being a single woman.”—Kate Hudson
          35. “Being a single parent is twice the work, twice the stress, and twice the tears but also twice the hugs, twice the love, and twice the pride.”—Unknown
          36. “For me, motherhood is learning about the strengths I didn’t know I had, and dealing with the fears I didn’t know existed.”—Halle Berry
          37. “A single mom tries when things are hard. She never gives up. She believes in her family, even when things are tough. She knows that above all things… a mother’s love is more than enough.”—Denice Williams
          38. “You do the best you can. Some days you feel really good about yourself and some days you don’t.”—Katie Holmes
          39. “I would say to any single parent currently feeling the weight of stereotype or stigmatization that I am prouder of my years as a single mother than of any other part of my life.”JK Rowling
          40. “Just because I am a single mother doesn’t mean I cannot be a success.”—Yvonne Kaloki
          41. “I didn’t plan on being a single mom, but you have to deal with the cards you are dealt the best way you can.”—Tichina Arnold
          42. “Nothing you do for children is ever wasted.”—Garrison Keillor
          43. “A single mom tries when things are hard. She never gives up. She believes in her family, even when things are tough. She knows that above all things, a mother’s love is more than enough.”—Deniece Williams
          44. “Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials.”—Meryl Streep
          45. “Having kids—the responsibility of rearing good, kind, ethical, responsible human beings—is the biggest job anyone can embark on.”—Maria Shriver
          46. “Mother is a verb. It’s something you do. Not just who you are.”—Cheryl Lacey Donovan
          47. “A mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity, it dates all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path.”—Agatha Christie
          48. “A mother’s arms are more comforting than anyone else’s.”—Princess Diana
          49. “The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.”—W.R. Wallace
          50. “Being a mother is the greatest blessing and the hardest challenge in all of life.”—Dr. Magdalena Battles

          Final Thoughts

          Single moms are remarkable women. They are to be respected and honored for all that they do. If you know a single mom, then share this article with them. Tell them “you are doing a great job as a single mom.” They need our encouragement and support.

          They may be parenting alone, but it is good to let them know that there are people in their life who care for them. We can all be there for the single moms out there. Even if it is just to say, “keep up the great work, you are an amazing woman!”

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          If you are a single mom, keep up the good work! You are amazing, and your kids are lucky to have you!

          More Tips for Single Moms

          Featured photo credit: Alexander Dummer via unsplash.com

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