Recently we embarked on a family trip to Santa’s Village located in Jefferson, NH. If you find yourself dreaming of a White Christmas in June – this is the place for you! It’s a neatly kept hideaway of Christmas wonderment just behind its candy cane gates.
Any of you who have traveled with toddlers – you know – the struggle is real. There are soooo many things to pack. My husband marvels at the bags and bags of things that we must bring for a two-day trip. I always argue that whether we are going for one day or for twenty there is a baseline of items that are needed! Regardless, it’s a ton of stuff. And inevitably, I bring things that I don’t use and he loves to point this out to me in hindsight. Anyhoo, before I’m even out of the driveway, I’m stressed. Did I forget something? Do I have the nose sucker in case they come down with a cold in June (it happens!)? Do I have enough snacks (the answer is inevitably no despite the bags I have stuffed)? Then there is the car ride. My boys are 20 months apart and both napping still so this presents some fun in the car on a long trip. What if the baby falls asleep early and then is wide awake yapping away when Graham has grown tired and wants to close his eyes? The answer is…you gotta roll with it. Which is still such a difficult concept for me. I mean, I don’t live and die by the schedule but I do like to stick to it. By the time we had made the 3 hour trek, the baby had had 3 good naps and Graham had had none. He had almost fallen asleep when Reid began chirping. Which then resulted in Graham grunting in frustration that would only been quieted by Peppa Pig being played on a loop for the remainder of the trip. Oh well.
Another challenge we face traveling with the boys is sleeping in a new place. Many people with Fragile X have sleep issues and when you add sleeping in a new place with unfamiliar sights and sounds, it can make for a bad night of sleep for all. One thing we have found that helps us is to keep up our bedtime routine while traveling. Having that piece of familiarity really helps. We also take a sound machine with us to help and play lullaby tunes and snuggle in bed before turning out the lights. I find that both of these things help drown out sounds and provide some soothing comfort to the boys. Lastly, we have discovered that as Graham has gotten older, skipping his nap helps him to settle easier at night since he is very tired. It can be difficult for him to self soothe and calm his body before bedtime so being extra tired when it is time to hit blanket street has made a world of difference. Unfortunately, the first night is usually still rough with frequent wakings but we order an extra large coffee the next morning and know that it will get better.
Going to an amusement park also presents some issues. Luckily, Graham does not have a fear of the rides and is eager to get on them. The issue is that he loves the sensory experience of the motion of the rides so much that it can be difficult to get him off of the rides once they are over. He will strongly protest when the ride has ended and often go into meltdown mode. Some techniques that we have found helpful are giving him a two minute warning when the ride is about to end. That helps him mentally prepare for the end as opposed to being surprised and disappointed by it. We also will try to have something fun lined up to do after to incentivize him to get off of the ride.
Another issue that we had with the rides was waiting to get on the rides. We haven’t had a problem with this in the past but Graham was extra tired the second day we were at the park and had zero patience. The second he saw the ride he wanted to get on it immediately and had no intentions of waiting in the line! Next time, we plan to talk with someone at the park ahead of time about the option of getting a pass that allows families of children with disability to avoid some of the waiting associated with rides. Unfortunately, we hadn’t given it much thought ahead of time but will be better prepared next time. We were incredibly thankful that Santa’s Village has an awesome water park that our kids loved. It has things for all ages to enjoy and helped them cool off and get refreshed after a long and hot day.
Traveling with toddlers is not for the faint of heart and, when you add the challenges due to Fragile X that the boys face, one could easily talk themselves right out of going anywhere that’s not within walking distance! But we really try not to let these issues stop us. We may need to plan a little bit more and spend more time balancing their needs with the plans for the trip. Our goal is to give the boys as many experiences and have as much fun as we possibly can while still allowing them be happy and comfortable. This will likely evolve and take different shapes over time but, for now, we will enjoy celebrating Christmas in December and in June.
Speaking of the holidays, we also wanted to let you know that we will be hosting our first Pierce Family Fragile X Foundation charity event on December 10th at the Woburn Country Club. It promises to be a fun evening to enjoy with family and friends and help us continue to raise funds to cure Fragile X! Please save the date for this event! More details to follow shortly!