Single Mom Driving: 1 mom, 4 littles, 2300 milesby Elizabeth MacDonald
#SingleMomDriving I have lost my mind. Roughly 1,150 miles down the east coast and 1,150 back will add up to who knows how many realistic miles... I can't even think about the "Are We There YET?" comments.
Don't you worry, there is a case of wine packed in the trunk. For one reason or another, I have created a bi-annual road trip tradition in which I drive the kids all the way down the east coast to the beaches I grew up on. I do this solo. My husband thinks I am crazy. It seems crazier with each added child - but I refuse to let go of the tradition. He hops on a plane and meets us for 4-6 days in the middle of the trip and flies back home to work. He also enjoys a beer on the plane and -gasp- reads a book without interruption. I’m actually not jealous. These trips are what I want my children to remember. I want them to know that I can be the hard-ass, homeschooling mom who is there in the everyday moments of life, but yet I am FUN. These trips are just that – FUN. After being inspired by a friend this year who took her entire family up the coast on a 15 day trip, I’m am throwing out our straight I-95 boring ‘Point A to Point B’ drive and issuing in an actual journey we can be proud of. Again – I am nuts. But you too can do this! Not only CAN you do it, but you SHOULD DO IT! I cannot explain to you just how excited my kids are -and how close it brings us all. It takes a lot of planning and prepping – and patience, but it can be fun! (If it wasn't fun, why would I continue doing it?)
Before I break down our journey, I want to invite you to follow us at #SingleMomDriving. I’ll be posting our updates throughout the 22-24 day adventure on My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear Facebook Page. There will be Heartbeat Bear #Giveaways along the way too! I’d love you to share the blog and hashtag - and include advice you have for me along the way. I’m pretty sure that anyone who finds my silver Nissan Quest filled with 4 tiny children on the road deserves to win something. I don’t just jump in the car and drive. There is a lot behind planning a 2,300 mile 23-day road trip with four kids ages 6 and under. Where did I start? Google Map.
I played with mileage. I contacted old friends that I haven’t seen in years (or – gasp – since college) and tried to set stops along the route. As a homeschooling family, I wanted to find as many teachable moment opportunities as possible – although, the entire trip is a teachable moment. And let’s be real, I had to consider driving with a 5 month old breastfeeding baby, a 2.5 year old boy, and a newly turned 5 year old boy… (my just turned 7 year old daughter will throw her headphones on and be fine for a few hours at a time). There is no way I can attempt more than 4.5 hours a day in the car. Even those hours are scary, as they could potentially double with bathroom breaks, food stops, gas fill ups, nursing sessions, and pull-overs… So I had to pull my husband in to look at the map. He helped me find realistic stopping points - let's just hope everything goes as planned. (Famous last words, right?)
Start: Leave Northern Virginia (Just outside of Washington DC)
Day 1 Goal: High Point, NC – I booked with the Hampton Inn High Point, right off the highway. They have a pool, free wifi, a fitness facility, a refrigerator for my wine, and a large TV for bedtime movies. The staff is wonderful (Ask for Pam and mention #SingleMomDriving when you book there!) The hotel we stay at MUST.HAVE.A.POOL. The kids will be in the car all day long and will be in need of an energy outsourcing – so I’ll be sipping wine and updating you all while they burn their energy. I’ll order food (probably pizza) to the hotel and put a movie on for the night.
Day 2: After breakfast, we will hit the road early for an hour drive toward Charlotte, NC where we will spend the day at Discovery Place Kids Museum with my best friend from childhood and her 3 young ones. This museum is completely hands-on with 9 different areas of exploring and learning. I cannot wait to share pictures with you all.
- Goal: Make it to Charleston, SC to my BFF’s house. We’ll blow up a million air mattresses, drink a bunch of wine, let kids play in the pool until way too late, and then eat ridiculous food. Maybe the kids will sleep?
- Goal: Make it to Jacksonville, Fl to my In-law’s house. Dear Lord, let there be several Publix Subs (and wine) in the next 2 weeks. There is nothing better than grandparents to help with kids, old friends to catch up with, and a change in routine. And WINE.
Day 4-7: Visit all of our North Florida friends. My husband and I owned our first home, and had our first baby in Jacksonville. There are still so many people we love to catch up with there. We’ll be heading to the Ponte Vedra Club pool (Waterslides!), the Jacksonville Z00, the Science Museum, do some shopping, lots of lunch dates and playdates, and ride our bikes everywhere. Again, I'll share pictures of all of the crazy adventures. The zoo will be the biggest day! We plan to feed giraffes, ride the carousel, hang out with the apes, play in the water near the penguins, and tour the botanical gardens!
Day 8: We will backtrack on the map to the airport to pick John up before heading farther south to the St. Augustine beach. My In-laws lured us to FL with a week long beach house rental, and we took the bait! We will be steps from the sand and have a pool in the back yard. While in St. Augustine, we will visit the fort and watch the cannons be fired! The kids will join the Junior Ranger Program and earn a badge too! Day 9-15: Birthday celebrations will be had and beaches will be surfed. We are bringing bikes and boogie boards and buckets and a baby tent. We will tour the St. Augustine fort and eat plenty of seafood.
- Day 15 Goal: Make it to Ft. Lauderdale to see my family. (I'm contemplating a trip to see my grandmother 3 hours out of the way at this point. It will be a complete game day decision.)
Day 16-19: Pool, beach, museums, and lots of time with grandparents and old friends.
Day 20: Time to head back home!
- Goal: We will puzzle the car back together and head to Orlando for the night. Disney World will wait for next year’s blog! Ha. Our friends have a school night, so nothing too crazy, but some night swimming should help them all sleep.
Day 21: Drive to Savannah, GA! If we need a pit stop at the In-laws, we may, but I’m hoping to make it all the way up. We lived here for 2.5 years and have so many wonderful friends to catch-up with. An afternoon at Forsyth Park, perhaps even a large group dinner at Mellow Mushroom!
Day 22: Drive as far as we can! I’ll update you on where we choose to stay as soon as we know, but it’ll have a pool for sure. We may make it to family in NC, but I’m leaving it all up in the air.
Day 23: Drive HOME. So there you have it. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE. Hahahahahahahahhahahahhahahahhahahahhahahhahahha. I told you, I’m crazy.