Before I start to blog about the places we visited on our European Adventure, I wanted to blog about the experience of our European Adventure. Looking back now, it was simply put, amazing, but not every moment was amazing. In fact, there were a lot of not so amazing moments, but if I’m being honest, I have to think really hard to remember them because the good of this trip so outweighs the bad of it.
Taking two babies, aged 3 and 1 across the world is no easy task, and definitely not for the faint of heart! It was going to be tough no matter what, but throw in Patrick’s biking accident the day before and the expectations of Mother’s Day and you have a recipe for disaster!
We started this trip on an hour and a half of sleep before driving 4 hours to Atlanta just making our flight! Greta cried the entire flight from Atlanta to Boston – except for the last 5 minutes, in which she fell asleep on the dissent. As I held this now quiet and sleeping baby, people were sure to comment…No, they didn’t say, “Happy Mother’s Day”, they instead said, “NOW she’s quiet!” Seriously, that happened – more than once – and it made me feel like the worst Mother in the universe! Trust me people, NOBODY on that flight was more miserable than me!!! That was not at all what I would have wanted for my said “special day.” I especially felt like a failure of a Mom when I asked Beau to come with me so Patrick only had to deal with the bags and he yelled “NO! I want Dada!” It was just one of those days…they really should give free wine to Mom’s traveling with a screaming baby – especially on Mother’s Day! I’m just saying!
Going into the second flight, our longest one from Boston to Amsterdam, I thought to myself, “It can’t possibly be worse than the first one.” Wrong again! We nearly missed this one as well because they boarded early while we were letting the kids explore the play area. Abruptly whisking the kids away from their fun didn’t work in our favor, so we started this flight off with a bang! Greta cried for about the first 3 hours of this flight before wearing herself out. She finally succumbed to sleep! Hallelujah! We knew we had to get Beau to sleep in order for us to get some sleep. He hadn’t napped, so I felt positive we could get him down quickly since it was about 8pm in our time zone. Patrick took his painkillers prescribed to him after the accident, and I drank my 3rd glass of wine and chowed down my melatonin in confidence that sleep was near. BIG MISTAKE! Beau had a meltdown in which he made the world’s most annoying crying sound – a sound which I had never even heard from him before. My kid can do annoying, but this was over the top! It was awful! In my sleep deprived, buzzed on wine and naturally drugged state of mind, I turned him around and showed him the back of the plane and told him to look at all the people trying to sleep on the airplane, hoping that would help to calm him down. He remembered that line and still randomly says it to this day, but nope, it didn’t help in the moment! He continued to kick his daddy’s fresh wounds and cry and eventually disrupted his sisters short-lived sleep. He eventually wore himself out and slept the remainder of the flight, but Greta Girl was up for good. So in an 8 hour over night flight, we managed to not have our kids sleep at the same time…there should be some sort of award for that! Before this trip I was a little sad I was getting cheated out of some Mother’s Day hours with the time zone switches…but in the end, this day couldn’t end soon enough!!
Our last flight was a short one from Amsterdam to Vienna, and it was heavenly! A well rested Beau happily watched a movie on a phone while Greta and I snuggled and slept! I hope Patrick stayed awake to watch Beau – I’ll never know…!
When we landed in Vienna, Austria we got in our rental car and headed 3.5 hours across the country to Halstatt. An hour or two into this trek, with the glorious silence of two kids sleeping at the same time (yeah, NOW they slept at the same time!), we came to the realization that we are legitimately crazy! A four hour drive followed by about 12 hours on an airplane, then driving another 3.5 hours in a foreign country with foreign road rules, with 2 kids under age 3, on a spotty 3 hours of sleep, the day after a biking accident…yep, we are NUTS! The stories we will be able to tell though…!
I’d like to say that flight was the last of our challenges with the kids, but alas, I can’t. I can however confidently say that flight was the worst of them. There seemed to be at least one good tantrum a day from each child at different times, which looking back now, made it feel a little more continuous than it actually was.
Being in a foreign country with kids is a little scary. Realizing that others don’t speak the same language as you puts a thin blanket of fear over you. You don’t know what they are saying when they are looking at you and your kids while they speak. If you needed help in an emergency, you don’t fully know if someone will be able to help because of the language barrier. Desperate times called for desperate measures and we had to take discipline to new and uncomfortable levels to get our safety points across. It’s funny, I used that same fear I spoke of as my strength, willing myself to believe that if I don’t understand them, then they won’t understand me when I have to firmly scold my son in public!
I can honestly say we all grew so much as a family. Patrick and I both learned to demand attention from our kids and strived to receive respect from them. In addition to a slew of new words, Beau learned new safety skills that are so important to his wellbeing. He now seeks us out to hold our hands near the street and is being an awesome big brother keeping a more watchful eye on his sister when she goes toward the street. He also no longer fights me when I strap him into his stroller, one of my biggest concerns before this trip! Greta’s attention and memory skills were strengthened for sure. She would point at the new things she would see daily which was such a joy to watch! She’s gotten stronger with her steps and now willingly walks while holding our hands. She also learned to eat with a fork and now refuses finger foods…such a refined European traveler 😉 My favorite though are the strengthened speaking skills, saying new words and phrases and of course her adorable hair growth everyone keeps commenting on 🙂 She’s a little cutie-pie!
Before this trip, I was scared. I was scared as a mother to handle my two kids on my own in public. In my mind, a tantrum was always more easily contained at home, so that’s where we spent all of our time unless Patrick was there to help me. This trip forced me to face that fear! I could either sit in the flat and look out the window at all that was going on, or I could go out and experience it for myself. I chose the latter, willing myself out of the flat with the kids each day no matter how challenging they were being – and we are all better and closer for it. I’ve learned that I can’t control my kids meltdowns, but I can control my own meltdowns. Letting them see me lose control allows an opportunity for them to think that they are in control. They aren’t, I am, and I have to remember to stay firm on that. I used to be a pushover who would exchange my phone or snacks for dried eyes or silence. I’m now a brave mom who isn’t afraid to find a remote side street to demand discipline. I truly do believe that discipline is harder on the parent than it is on the kid. It’s not easy to stick to your guns and be consistent, especially when out in public, but you absolutely have to if it’s ever going to sink in…a lesson I learned the hard way. I’ve learned that instilling in my children good judgement calls is so much more important to me than the judgement of possible onlookers who I’ll most likely never see again. I realized that in tough times I need to do what is best for my kids, not what is easiest for me.
Tough stuff aside, I really learned how to have more fun with my kids! I better learned what would spark their interest and what would bore them. I really made an attempt to do the things that I thought they would most enjoy, and I know by the smiles on their faces and the hugs I received after that they were appreciative 🙂 I also learned that they will behave for me in public! Maybe not always, but most of the time they will, and outbursts are only as bad as I allow them to be. I also learned that having a beer with dinner totally takes the edge off – haha! Hey beer, was cheaper than water in Austria – no lie!
While phones are a great tool for communicating, and of course keeping my kids entertained, we saw a lot less connection to our phones this trip and it was great for all of us! Many of our kids favorite apps didn’t work overseas, which frustrated them at first, but they got over it…they had to! Knowing it was night back home during our day also helped us to disconnect. It was great getting that “Face Time” with our kids 🙂 We weren’t 100% free of screen time, but we all saw a lot less of it and it was great all around!
So many positives of this trip totally outweigh the negatives of it. Would we do it again? We plan to! In the future, when the kids are a little older of course. I don’t want to travel across the world with a 1 year old again – ever! We do however want to see the world, and we want our kids to see the world with us. There is so much to see, learn explore and experience and I pray my kids have the same hunger we have for seeing and doing it all! To me, travel is one of the greatest investments we can make in our kids. They’ll outgrow their clothes and toys, but travel will make them grow and will last their entire life! Travel truly is the only thing you can buy that will make you richer!
I look forward to sharing more about all the places we visited in the coming days!
Be Blessed + Be A Blessing