Let me start by saying: Yes, we are completely insane. Now that is out of the way, let me start at the beginning.
When Monkey was born we were living in sunny Southern California close-ish to Hollywood, Disney, San Diego, etc. I moved to to area in 2000, just after graduating from high school. I swore to myself I would set up shop in SoCal and never leave. Why on earth would I want to?! The beach is close, the mountains are close, and the desert is close… everything is right there… and it takes you hours to get there in the traffic, plus you pay through the nose for gas, oh and housing is so unreasonable that we were living in a two bed, 1.75 bath, 900sq ft condo paying $1,800 a month and had no idea how we could move into anything bigger on a dual income of over $100k. So yes, SoCal is beautiful, but you are (as Hubby put it) paying for the brand name and we were interested in down grading to Kohls (not quite WalMart status, but hopefully you get my point).
Hubby and I began discussing our options. We wanted out, but where and when… we started taking about this while I was still on maternity leave with Monkey, but kept it under wraps until April of this year (so basically I kept things quiet for a year, I should get a medal). We decided we should make the move before having another child and since we didn’t want Monkey to be too old when #2 came along, we decided we would put the house up for sale in Spring 2013.
Now the where… we actually made a list! Pros and Cons. We looked at Arizona and Illinois as we had family in both states. We decided it made the most sense to move where we had family support. At first Arizona was our plan as my parents (Illinois) had mentioned they might retire to AZ, but then things changed and our list took us to IL. So we had the where and the when-ish, now to actually put the plan into motion. I will skip the details here… basically we got the house ready for sale, listed it, and it sold super quick! Told our work and off we went…
Now how on earth did drive from SoCal to IL with a one year old…
The drive was surprising good. Here is what we learned/did:
Bring lots of toys: We had a bunch of toys set up within our reach and kept switching them out every few minutes. Then when we stopped for gas/snacks/potty break, we gathered all the toys up (as she tossed them all over the car) and started over. We has toys that sung, things she could push buttons on, nesting cups, soft books, bears (singing and non), and random things she grabbed in the car (like my box of Tampons…). We also had a few toys she could play with in the hotel room (larger toys like a truck with people in it and bath toys).
Portable Snacks: Puffs and a puffs cup are very vital! We used Munchkin Snack Containers because she can feed herself. I kept one full and ready to go and another container filled with puffs for easy access. We don’t use a ton a bought foods for her, but puffs are one thing she loves and can easily feed herself. A sippy cup with water is also a must. We would hand the items to her and take them back (or they would be tossed and then you hurt your arm trying to grab things…). We used the shelf-stable yogurt and fruit pouches for other snacks. Monkey is not very good at eating these as she was first given one on the trip so we had to supervise her (generally when we took a potty break) or she would squeeze and get it everywhere (or on Hubby). We had milk in a bottle which was in a cooler so she could have a her milk. We also had lunch items for her, like cheese or a peanut butter sandwich.
Frequent Stops: We stopped every few hours and would take a break of about half an hour. We would do a diaper change then and let her wander around a bit. We would lave early (day one was 4:30/5am and subsequent days were 6:30/7am). She would sleep first thing in the morning, then play for a bit, then we would stop, she would play some more, have a snack and then go back to sleep. This continued for the almost ten hours we were driving each day.
FYI: Monkey is not always good in the car, so don’t think she is just good and we were lucky! If she is over being in the car, she cries and cries and yells at us… so we avoided that (most of the drive) by keeping her occupied as much as possible. There were a couple times when she did cry… once was a poopy diaper and the other time she was cold, so can’t fault her for that.
We tried to keep as close to her schedule as possible. Meal times at the same time, snacks at the same time… bed time didn’t quite stay the same, but then again we were getting up at sparrow fart, so she was screwed up with those times anyway.
Ultimately, we would have driven less each day if she had not done well in the car! As it was, we did 2000 miles in three days, an average of ten hours of drive time a day. I should also note, my parents drove with us so we had two cars. Monkey, Hubby, and I were in my SUV and my parents, our two fur-kids, and the budgie were in Hubby’s car.
Now we are here, living with family, and getting settled in. It is an adjustment, but it is what is best for Monkey and our family!