I Traveled for the First Time With my Toddlers and Here’s What Happened

I Traveled for the First Time With my Toddlers and Here’s What Happened

- in Parenting, Things to do

If you know me, you know I run a tight ship when it comes to my kids. Generally speaking, my kids eat at the exact same time every day (give or take 15 minutes) and take naps and go to bed at the same time (give or take almost nothing). I think it’s important to maintain consistency in their lives and I find that it helps me to anticipate their moods, needs and wants. So, it will come as no surprise that I have been terrified to take my kids on vacation. The entire concept of vacation goes against my very rules of parenting because you are throwing all routine and consistency out the window and hoping for the best. Well… I did it.

This summer we took the kids to Sandusky. OK, so I didn’t get them on an airplane, but baby steps… It was still a big move for me to commit to four nights and five days away from home. We rented one of the new “tiny homes” at Lighthouse Point on Cedar Point property and brought our regular babysitter just for fun.

Upon check-in to the tiny house, I realized that I had made my first mistake. I was so focused on the comfort level of the kids and how we would make sleeping arrangements that I basically completely disregarded the comfort level of my 6’3” husband who could not even stand up straight in the shower stall of the tiny house. Also the upstairs was more of a crawl space with two separated beds so it was uncomfortable for him to try and maneuver the quarters. Whoops. He’s pretty easygoing so he was able to handle it, but it was not ideal and I feel like I failed a bit here. The tiny houses are located near the campgrounds at Cedar Point, so this was also an issue because there were ants EVERYWHERE in our house. We called the front desk and they sent out two housekeepers which did little to no good. Adam and I are used to a little more lux when we vacation together (we have never camped and probably will never camp) so this was a downgrade in our book. That said, the tiny house concept was unique and it worked overall.

We visited the African Wildlife Safari the first day and it was hands down one of the most fun times I’ve had in a long time. The kids were hesitant to feed the animals, who were aggressively sticking their heads into the car windows, so Adam and I did most of the feeding. At one point, I had two very large buffalo heads in my window and buffalo slobber all over me. Everyone in the car was laughing so hard we were crying. It was pure joy and a memory I will keep forever. The food options were bad at the safari and I regretted not packing our lunches for that first day (which I had thought about but axed, thinking we would be fine to wing it). PB&Js would have been way better than what the concession offered but it wasn’t a big deal. We spent the afternoon on day one at the on-site pool and went to the hibachi restaurant at Hotel Breakers for dinner. Much to our surprise, our toddlers were not amused by the hibachi style cooking. My daughter devoured the rice, chicken and vegetables and my son ate nothing. Typical. Day one was a success.

Day two was a big day. We began with the Peanuts character breakfast at Hotel Breakers and I highly recommend it. The kid-friendly buffet was clearly thought up by a 9-year-old because my kids ate a solid breakfast. They had so many options like eggs, bacon, yogurt (with a toppings bar that included gummy worms and sprinkles), toast, muffins, juice, etc. I was happy. My son loved all the characters that strolled through the event but my daughter clutched me for dear life every time Charlie Brown got within 18 feet. We went straight to Cedar Point from here, which we had access to one hour before the park opened because we were guests on the property.  The one hour preview didn’t help much because most of the attractions were not open until the park actually opened, but we found a couple things to do in the Camp Snoopy area. In surprising news, my 2-year-old daughter is our little thrill seeker, while my 3-year-old son is largely terrified of a ride moving faster than 3 mph. Still, he loved the Snoopy bounce house, antique cars, train ride and dodgem cars. He was overjoyed to get his face painted like a tiger and both kids felt right at home eating Chick-fil-A in the park for lunch. Win! We went back to the tiny house to give my daughter a nap and for the first time in months my son napped, too. HUGE WIN! We spent the afternoon back at the park and ordered a pizza for dinner to eat back at our tiny house.

Cedar Point Shores was a lot of fun mostly because what I thought I knew about my kids was turned around. Here, my son stood out. He absolutely loved riding water slides and showed that his thrill seeking is just more preferred in the water. They have a fantastic “kiddie water slide” area where parents could stand in the water to catch or assist kids as they empty into the pool from each slide. He must have taken over 50 turns on these slides and was riding head first by the end of the day. My daughter was not as interested in the water slides and ate snacks at our table most of the day. When we set out on vacation with our babysitter, there was zero intention of utilizing her to babysit during the entire trip. This was a family vacation and we are just close with her and wanted to treat her to the fun. However, when she offered to take the kids back to the tiny house for naptime so that Adam and I could hang for a bit at the waterpark, we jumped at it! My first thought was to go on the big waterslides together and maybe the lazy river ride, but when we saw the live music playing near the bar, we opted for two margaritas and 90 minutes of adult time instead. Needless to say, day three was also a win.

The plan for the next day was to go out for breakfast and then spend the day at the beach. I could tell everyone was dragging and pretty tired from three full days of activity. The kids were losing the pep in their step. The tiny house seemed like it was getting smaller and by this time the ants and bugs were rampant around the entire unit. The kids were starting to ask when we were going home. I felt it, too. We were going to be there for two more days but I was done. I decided to surprise everyone at breakfast by suggesting we head home after lunch. Everyone’s eyes lit up when I said that so I knew it was the best plan for all. We had a lot of fun building sand castles then grabbed lunch at a restaurant and packed up the car. I was able to get a refund for the final night that we did not stay and everyone loved sleeping in their own cribs and beds that night.

The trip was a blast. I am so glad we decided to pull the trigger and step outside of our comfort zone. I feel more confident as a parent and for my kids. I still stick to routine and consistency but I know now that my family can handle some spontaneity. I’m still not ready to jump on an airplane with everyone but I am currently searching for short road trips for our next family vacation!

About the author

Renee Sanden
Hi! I'm Reneé Sanden and I am Cora And Leo's Mom (C.A.L.M in CLE). I stay at home with my two kids but I rarely ever "stay home" as we are always visiting some kid-friendly event or location in the area. I married an incredible man (Adam) and we share a pretty amazing life together in Mentor. When I'm not with my kids, I like to golf, go out to dinner with friends and travel. My life has changed in major ways since having kids that are 17 months apart, but I couldn't possibly be any happier. I know as Moms we are supposed to say that, but I mean it. I don’t miss my pre-kids life. Except for maybe the sleep. And the quiet. Other than that, I’m good.

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