It’s a Hard Knock Life—traveling solo with the littles

1467235_10152125048238582_874852728_nLast week I packed the kids up and took them on assignment with me to Palm Springs. Eddie had just started his new job and couldn’t come and so my mom decided to tag along.

As much as we all love my mom, and my kids prefer to be with her over just about any other grown up in my family, she isn’t the most hands-on helper. She has her own business, all of which is done by phone and email. So she needs to work every day. Her coming along on a trip means I get to shower (whew), and Kai has someone to play with when I need to get Nikko to sleep. And she can entertain them for about an hour while I tour a property.

So our research trip wasn’t particularly easy. Don’t get me wrong, it is never ever easy traveling with kids. Even with Eddie on board, balancing the needs of two young people, yourself and your partner is downright impossible. But I am ambitious. And I was committed to making this trip mostly about them.

This month has been insane—for all of us. We packed up and moved out of SF (sniff sniff), brought our belongings to my parents’ house in LA on a Saturday; unloaded them in my parents’ garage and found a house to rent on Sunday; went to Maui on Monday so I could research my Fodor’s Hawaii 2015 assignment; ping-ponged between hotels and activities for six days on Maui—I visited about seven hotels a day and stayed at a new property most every night; on Maui, we found out we got the house in Topanga that we liked; then came back to LA Sunday; spent a couple days getting the details taken care of in the new house, including visiting Kai’s new school; then took off on another assignment on Wednesday to Palm Springs.

Clearly we needed to have some fun time. So I planned a Palm Springs getaway to help me research the family portion of my Fodor’s California Palm Springs chapter. We checked into Smoke Tree Ranch—one of the best spots for families in Southern California, with huge cottages, a fantastic playground with a treehouse, tennis courts, a golf course, basketball court, and plenty of space to ride bikes and explore.

I let the kids dictate how we spent the first day—duh, playing! And then the next day we made some friends and took off for the Living Desert. As with most world travelers, I am not the biggest fan of zoos. However, like most moms I am happy with just about anything educational that captivates my kids. And this zoo is unlike most. Over a mile and a half of desert creatures hugged by trails, in a natural environment, the Living Desert focuses on conservation of their wealth of animals. And by wealth I am not kidding. Jaguars, leopards, a mountain lion, cheetahs, peregrine falcons, and the list goes on. The kids were out of their minds.

However when it came time to leave, they lost it. Five days before Christmas they wanted to go get toys in the store and when I said no, my happy children turned into pissed off elves. Suddenly nothing was good enough. Not the hours of me pushing them through the desert in a cart to see the animals, or the cheeseburgers and chips I relented to them eating yet again for lunch. Nor the fact that there was more fun on the menu for them.

I finally lost it. Yelling that I was tired of nothing being good enough and that the zoo is the last place I would have gone—that I would have rather been at the spa, or hiking in Joshua Tree, or reading by the pool.

They quieted down, but the tone of the rest of the day was the same. Nikko didn’t nap; Kai wanted to play basketball and I couldn’t so he got mad; dinner at Matchbox (while delicious) was an abbreviated nightmare with Nikko throwing stuff over the railing on unsuspecting people below.

Getting back to Smoke Tree was a relief to remember that it is a day that will end. Everyone will close their eyes and go to bed and feel differently tomorrow. But at the end of this crazy day, suddenly traveling with kids feels like too much for one person. Or two.

Maybe it’s time to set up a mama getaway…any recommendations?

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