Saturday, 15 June 2013

Planes, Trains and Strollers

"SIT DOWN!!!" I hiss at the squirming baby in my lap. We only have about 45 minutes left in our four-and-a-half hour flight, but this baby is done. Bored of the plane, tired of sitting and generally overwrought, the kid will not stop moving for even a millisecond. My arms are tired from trying to restrain her from climbing over the seat in front of me. For a 20-pound baby, she's surprisingly strong.

We're on our way home from Vancouver. My husband had to go to a conference there, and I thought it would be a nice change of pace for the kids and I to join him. For four days, while my husband attended the conference, I pushed my girls around in their stroller and explored the city.

Travelling with young children isn't easy. One of them, if not both, was often hungry or tired or bored—I had to bring along an arsenal of toys and diapers and snacks for even short excursions. Coordinating naps was a challenge: the baby still naps in the morning and in the afternoon, while the preschooler naps midday. We definitely missed out on the night life, because we had to get the kids to sleep at a reasonable hour so they wouldn't be monsters the next day. And the time change really messed them up: that first day, they woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 3:30 a.m. and could not be persuaded to go back to sleep, despite the fact that it was still pitch-black outside.

But you know what? We had fun. I took the girls to Granville Island Market, and I let the preschooler go on every ride and play every game in the Kids Market. We went to the aquarium, and I saw the excitement on both of their faces as they put their little hands up against the tank to watch the huge brightly coloured fish swimming by. We shopped on Robson Street, and we strolled around Gastown and Yaletown. In the evenings, when my husband could join us, we ate meals on patios and drank local wine and enjoyed the vibrant atmosphere. 

My husband and I travelled a lot before our children were born, and we're not willing to give that up because it's more work now. Sure, the preschooler was whiny and obstinate at times; yes, the baby had a couple of meltdowns. But it's good for them to experience different people and places. And we're willing to pay the price of a few tantrums in order to keep doing something we love.

We're not going to stop travelling just because we have kids. Although maybe next time, we'll opt for somewhere in the same time zone.

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