Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Moving Cross-Country With a Toddler

The first time we moved with a baby, he was just shy of eight months old. Ryan would be driving a moving truck with our Jeep towed on the back and the baby and I would take a train. Our train was canceled and a big snow storm left our town (Ogden, Utah) along with all of its surrounding towns and Salt Lake City completely without any available rental cars.
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And so I flew. The car seat seemed too much to have to lug through the airport when I was already going to be alone and struggling to carry the baby, diaper bag and suit case… so I opted to use public transportation instead. I took a light rail to a train station, a train to the airport, flew from Utah to Minnesota, rode a monorail to downtown Minneapolis, walked around at 11pm in –3 temperatures while desperately searching for an available hotel room, slept, walked to a library so I could do a little research, rode a bus to a train station, took a train to a bus station, rode a bus to a hotel in my new town. Phew. All the while, Ryan was driving a big moving truck with our Jeep towed behind it through inclement weather in a whole lot of cellular dead zones.
Although it doesn’t seem like a big deal now, it mattered a whole lot during those few days. When Ryan knocked on the hotel room door around midnight I felt such a huge relief.
We knew that this time, whatever it took, we were NOT splitting up. The baby and I were going to follow Ryan in our Jeep and if it took us three days longer then so be it.
We had all of our stuff packed up and ready to go, and Ryan had a wonderful (and very hard-working) friend come help load up the truck… so after we cleaned our apartment up and showed it to the landlords for the final inspection, it was only about 2pm. We decided just to go ahead and start the drive that day rather than spend a night in St. Cloud and get started in the morning.
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We were about three hours ahead of schedule by the time we stopped that first day, so we were feeling pretty good. The second day went swimmingly until about 2pm. We stopped for gas and then got ready to get back on the road again. Ryan drove up to the driveway exit and then just sat there, even when it was completely clear. Then I heard “Uh-oh” on the walkie talkie and eventually, “Can you back up?”
I backed up and he still just sat there before he backed into a hotel parking lot which happened to (THANKFULLY!) be attached to the gas station’s.
The transmission went out on moving truck. He somehow had reverse just long enough to get it into the hotel parking lot, then nothing. We contacted the truck company and since we were in the middle of nowhere they had us get a room for the night (which they paid for) and wait until we could get another truck in the morning. It was a bit of a setback, but it meant that the baby could play and we could relax, so it wasn’t the end of the world. To be honest, I was so thankful that it happened in a hotel parking lot instead of while Ryan was doing 65 with someone right on his tail that I really didn’t even care. We were safe and together and that was what mattered.
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The next morning stretched into the next afternoon and we had officially been off the road for 24 hours before they were finally able to get us another truck. Then I took care of the baby while Ryan (and a team of wonderful movers) moved every thing out of the first moving truck and into the second. We hightailed it out of town at 4pm. We stopped around six to feed the baby dinner, change his diaper, nurse him and put him in pajamas… and then Ryan and I drove until about 11pm. We were back on schedule though, and the next day we made it to our new town!
What worked: frequently stopping so the baby could stretch his legs; lunches as park picnics; walkie talkies to communicate with; hotels with bathtubs to soak my back in; a heating pad to lay on while we watched TV at night; packing a lot of our own food; handing the baby a small stack of books and a small toy or two every time we loaded him back into his car seat; staying positive with each other even when situations were stressful

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