Okay everyone. I know it’s been a long time since I’ve updated you all, but I’ve been busy soaking in the summer with my 1 year old! This summer was 100% different than last summer. Oliver loves being outside, swimming, throwing rocks in the lake, you name it. And I won’t lie, it’s been pretty hard for me to stay inside too. We’ve been busy exploring the world and tackling life with a one year old. Two of the major things we tackled this summer was a road trip as well as an amusement park.
Road trips with Oliver last year were easy, we just plopped him in his seat and away we went. We would stop every 2 hours for a quick feeding and get back on our way. Road trips with Oliver now are a much different story, and don’t get too excited, I’m not going to pretend like I have some sort of magic to share for easy road trips with a toddler. They are rough. After about 2 hours in the car I think most everyone starts getting restless so I can’t blame Oliver for getting bored. Sitting in the car isn’t fun. So when we had about a 6 hour drive ahead of us I tried to prepare the best I could. I packed tons of easy snacks like cheese sticks, sliced strawberries and cuties. Road trips are the only time I allow our family to eat fast food, so I wanted to make sure I kept Oliver’s snacks as healthy as I could. I also packed Oliver’s toy backpack with toys that he didn’t play with often but that would hold his attention for a while. He has a set of musical instruments, some busy boards and touchy feely books. Finally, we planned on stopping about every 2 hours to just get out and run around and have some snacks. I don’t like giving Oliver much food in his carseat. They say kids aren’t supposed to eat in their carseats and the one time I gave in and let him eat a banana in the car he threw up about an hour later, so yeah, we don’t do that anymore.
You might have noticed that I didn’t mention a tablet or movies in my entertaining the toddler plan. That’s because Oliver doesn’t have a tablet or watch movies. We made the decision before Oliver was born that we didn’t want him relying on technology for entertainment, so it’s never been a big part of his life. While I can totally understand the attraction of handing Oliver a tablet and having peace and quiet for the next few hours, it’s just something we have decided against.
So one Thursday morning, we got going about 9. We made sure Oliver had a good breakfast, but I was concerned because typically his mornings are pretty active and we had a pretty inactive few hours ahead of us. Surprisingly though, Oliver napped for a while in our first 2 hour stretch, then he woke up and was already over it. Luckily we were just about to the playground I had planned to stop at. We took a nice break playing on a new playground and having some snacks before heading on. The next stretch is when I really had to break out the toys. For the next hour and a half I passed toys back to Oliver which he’d play with for about 2 minutes and then chuck across the backseat. That’s basically how the toy situation goes for him. Then we were able to stop for some food which was a good break. But unfortunately we hit the under-construction city during rush hour so it took us FOREVER to get through it all and to be honest none of us were feeling it. We had to stop again once we got through the city to let Oliver run around a bit and have a snack. Then after we were on the road for about 10 minutes, Oliver spilled his water on his lap somehow and was soaked and crying. So we had to stop again to deal with that. Since we were 8 hours in to our 6 hour drive, I just got a new diaper on him and abandoned the pants completely. We were only about 30 minutes away and we were all so ready to get there! Which we finally did. Oliver was so happy to be out of the car and playing that we let him stay up much later than we would on an ordinary night so he could play and get out some of his bottled up energy.
The next morning we were able to just lounge around a bit in the morning and visit our family. We had all day to go 2 hours, so we were in no rush to jump back in the car. Eventually we had to get going and I can assure you that Oliver was not pleased about being put back in his carseat. I’m sure he thought we had another 6 hours to go. He handled the 2 hours alright though and we made it to the amusement park. We were camping with my parents, so Oliver had room to run around and play before we went to get some dinner. After 2 days of car rides and relaxing, Oliver was pretty ready for our next venture: Lagoon. We were camping in the Lagoon campground so we would be able to come back to the trailer when Oliver got worn out and have some down time and a nap. I really think that was a lifesaver at his age. My plan was to really go for it all morning and get Oliver on as many rides as we could, then let him (and my dad) go nap while we did some bigger rides. Then we could take him back out again in the afternoon for some more fun.
I really had no idea how Oliver would like going on rides. I was optimistic that he would love them since he loves being pulled around in a wagon or pushed in his toy car. But I also had the idea that he would be one of those kids who start screaming as soon as you put them in a ride and cry through the whole thing. Really neither one of of the reactions would have surprised me with him. I decided to do some rides that we could sit with him first, so we started with the teacups. It’s hard to say whether he liked it or not, he had a pretty concentrated fish face going for most of the ride. But there was no crying so I considered that a plus. My parents went on a ride with him next and he was alright for that too, so I figured it was time for him to move on to riding on his own.
Olivers first solo ride was the baby boats. My dad thought he might try and jump out and fall into the water, but don’t worry, he didn’t. He was very serious throughout the whole thing, very focused on steering his boat. But again he didn’t cry so I count it as he had fun. He did a few more solo rides and we even got a few smiles on some. He was happy to be put on more and more rides, so I figure he must have been having fun.
After a few hours of rides, we went back to the trailer for some lunch and relaxing. I can’t stress this enough guys, if you can camp by your amusement park, do it! Lagoon is great because the campground is literally attached to the park. But if you can be close by and get easy access to some high quality food and a bed, it will change the way you think about amusement parks with a toddler. If you have a kid who is able to sleep in their stroller, then maybe the whole camping thing might not be so necessary. But Oliver is definitely not one of those kids. If there is something new and exciting going on he will not sleep. So I knew from the get-go that a nap in the park wasn’t going to happen. We had some lunch and once Oliver went down for a nap, Mauricio and I were able to go back in to the park and go on some big rides without feeling so guilty.
After naptime, it was pretty hot, so we all decided to do the waterpark portion of Lagoon. Which is just another benefit of camping at the park, no toting around wet swim stuff if you want to do water slides. Since it was hot it was pretty crowded in the waterpark but we were able to get us some chairs and have some fun in the water. Oliver loved the baby slides, but only if I went with him. Maybe next year he’ll do some solo water slides. We spent a few hours floating the lazy river and going down slides before heading back to the trailer for a change of clothes and some dinner.
It was starting to get dark by the time we were ready to head back into the park, which on a normal day means Oliver is heading to bed. But not on Lagoon day. Mauricio and I took him back in to the park for some more rides. I think after a full day of activity he was getting pretty worn out. We had a few little tantrums over waiting in line or not getting unbuckled from the ride fast enough, so after a few rides we were about ready to call it a night. Overall, I considered it a very successful amusement park with a toddler day. Next year Oliver will be big enough for some more rides and I think it will be even more fun. You can bet that we’ll be camping again. I hope to take Oliver to Lagoon as much as we can. It’s about a four hour drive for us, but Lagoon is a good memory I have from my childhood and I want to pass that on to Oliver.