The wife had a conference in Keene, New Hampshire (I know...where?!?!)...so I had the option to keep both kids here in Toronto with me for the 3 days, or go with her and be on "Daddy duties"...either way, I'm taking time off - might as well get new scenery out of it.
Did someone say ROAD-TRIP? I can't complain...the kids were incredible. Yasmin (9 month old) slept for most of the trip with the exception of 1 tantrum which required a u-turn to a local gas station in the middle of nowhere (of course I made the wife get out...) Ruqi (3 year old) was a saint...we introduced a DVD player to her, and she was on cloud 9...problem for the wife was that Ruqi has the attention span of a 3 year old..which means she had to keep changing dvd's every 20 minutes. For any DADS who think 500 miles (800 KM) is an 8 hour drive with 2 kids (or any number of kids)...is sadly mistaken...it took us 10.5 hours...between 4 bladders and 4 appetites, we stopped every 2 hours.
Check in was smooth in a town where the population is 30,000 and people feel that driving 20 minutes to get somewhere requires planning...they've clearly never had to use the 401. Wednesday morning came and Uzma got up, kissed me and the kids goodbye and off she went to her conference/course and I stayed lying with eyes wide open, trying to figure out what I'm going to do without a car, in a small town, for 8 hours until she returns...oh yes, with 2 kids, a double stroller and snacks...lots of snacks...if you can't entertain 'em, feed 'em.
To save everyone all the small details, it's safe to say I survived and really bonded with my girls. Yes, there was a lot of yelling and chasing, and a lot of, "what are you doing? Why did you do that? Did you just hit your sister? Can you please just brush your teeth!" but it was time that, in retrospect, I was so fortunate to have.
During normal days, Ruqi is in full-day Daycare, and Yas is home with Uzma...so the fact that I had both, all day, was pretty incredible. It helped that there were a few local parks within 10 minutes and an awesome Children's museum. With the exception of a lunch-time tantrum (Yasmin) that the customers at Friendly's reacted quite the opposite, but more in a, "where's the mom" type of disbelief. The staff on the other hand, felt horrible for me and started dancing for her while I scarfed down my lunch and Ruqi fell asleep while eating fries and colouring...DAD OF THE YEAR (the sandwich was delicious though).
One interesting experience was at dinner, once Uzma returned Wednesday evening, when Yasmin has turned herself around in the highchair at a restaurant and literally got stuck. We were about 1 minute away from break the highchair, as we had to twist her body in a way that wasn't natural to get her out - this freaked us, and the restaurant staff, out!
This stage is so incredible. Yes, moving around with a relatively inaccessible town, was tough. Yes, having 2 kids with different schedules and needs, but both being pretty dependent is tough. But with all that said, the ability to see the world through their lens for 3 days was an incredible experience. Being the only caregiver (much to the confusion to many people) for these 3 days was amazing, as the girls needed me, and only me, for anything and everything, and as tough as this was, because it was a constant juggling act, it made me melt every time they stared into my eyes. These are emotions that only people in the moment, can share, and I hope that those who haven't, get a chance to.
Now, the downside of being outnumbered is you let a lot go, as you have to pick and choose your battles. Biggest word of advise: BE FLEXIBLE! If you're strict about schedule, than you're preparing yourself for hell - IT WILL NOT HAPPEN. Be flexible, roll with the punches, let it go...whatever, just enjoy the moment and don't stress the small stuff (definitely easier said than done, but it works...trust me).
Three 8 hour days with the both of them felt like one month of work as a construction worker...physically draining, but amazing when you see the final result.
Would love to hear your stories about traveling with the kiddos and specifically, DADS being left for a while with them and how they coped, what they did, and what they learned.