What’s in Minnesota?!?!
Absolutely nothing. lol jk.
Jake had a conference where he was presenting in Minneapolis. And Cindy wanted to be able to say she’s been to Minnesota. So that’s how we ended up in Minnesota for Mother’s Day weekend!
After our New York trip, Cindy was expecting the worst from this trip but hoping it would at least be better than solo parenting. To her surprise, the weekend turned out to be more than PERFECT. It was one of the most relaxing weekends she’s had since having Baby R. And the perfect way to spend her first Mother’s Day.
There is a two-hour time difference between Los Angeles and Minneapolis, so we decided to keep Baby R on SoCal time in order to avoid jet lag and messing up her schedule. This meant her bedtime was shifted 2 hours later local time which, therefore, meant we all went to bed around the same time. And since Baby R sleeps about 11 hours every night, this meant Cindy got to sleep in for the first time in a long time!!! (Jake got to experience the “sleeping-in” Sunday… he had to wake up early the other days for his conference). For the first time in months, Cindy woke up every day feeling well-rested.
Not only did she get to sleep in every day, but she also had lots and lots of time to relax and do absolutely nothing during Baby R’s naps. Oh, how she missed being able to sit around and do NOTHING!! There was no guilt, no nagging feeling that she should be doing something, no house to tidy, no chores to do, no work to finish. She would nap or scroll endlessly and mindlessly through Instagram (also something she hasn’t been able to do in a while). Who knew traveling with a baby could be soooo relaxing!?
Unlike most of our trips, we didn’t pack this one with back-to-back activities. For one, Jake had his conference to attend. And Cindy wasn’t quite brave enough to sightsee totally alone with a baby. On conference days, Cindy stretched the bounds of her comfort zone and picked out one or two places to see with Baby R. They didn’t do much, but it was the perfect amount of exploring with a baby. Cindy felt so empowered and brave!! (even though the farthest she ventured was maaaybe 15 miles away from the Airbnb).
On Friday, Cindy took Baby R to a local park that’s situated right next to the Mississippi River! It was only about a 5-minute drive from where we stayed, but Cindy had to hype herself up so much just to leave the Airbnb. She’s so used to Los Angeles traffic & congestion and having to deal with parking anxiety that she was surprised to find how easy it was to drive around downtown Minneapolis. Being in Minneapolis was like taking a nice, long, deep relaxing breath. The roads were so wide and open, the sidewalks were clear of crowds, and everything just felt slow and easy-going. On Friday night, we went out to dinner together after Jake’s conference. And on the way back to the Airbnb, we stopped by the grass field just outside of the Twins Stadium (which was literally a 2-minute walk from where we were staying) to let Baby R run around while we watched part of the game on the Jumbotron. It felt so blissful. And so special to enjoy the night out, past 7:00pm, with Baby R. Normally, at home, she’d be asleep.
Saturday morning, Cindy took Baby R to a cafe for breakfast. Baby R screamed and made a scene while waiting for the food. It was so embarrassing! Cindy scarfed down her breakfast and ran out of the cafe as fast as she could. It almost deterred her from going out in the afternoon, but she figured going out would be better than staying in. Cindy and Baby R. ventured over to St. Paul and the two of them hung out at the Minneapolis Children’s Museum. Fun fact: Minneapolis has two downtowns which is why the two places are called the “twin cities”. Baby R enjoyed running around and playing in the museum. Cindy enjoyed hearing the Minnesota accent in conversations everywhere. That evening, the three of us drove over to Wisconsin to eat dinner! It was only a 30 minute drive and we wanted to be able to say we visited Wisconsin.
Jake was finally able to sleep in and join in on the fun & exploring Sunday. It felt sooooo nice sleep in! When he woke up, he couldn’t believe he had been sleeping for a little over 10 hours!!! The three of us went out for breakfast then hung out in the game room of our Airbnb.
In the afternoon, we visited the Mall of America (it’s one of the more popular tourist destinations in Minnesota because it is the largest mall in America). THAT MALL IS HUGE. All weekend we kept wondering where all the people were. Well it turns out the entire population of Minnesota was inside that mall. lol jk. This mall isn’t just any normal mall. Not only does it have over 520 stores, but it also has an amusment park (Nickelodean Universe), a mirror maze (which we did and Baby R thoroughly enjoyed!), a WHOLE AQUARIUM (which we also checked out), escape rooms, and a whole bunch of other attractions. One day is definietly not enough to explore the entire mall. But we were quite content with what we did by the time we left. We originally were going to eat dinner at the Rainforest Cafe, but they were all booked out. So we ended up ordering Postmates and eating while watching our new show after Baby R went to bed, which was actually the perfect cap to the day. It’s pretty hard to enjoy a meal with a baby at a restaurant, so we were finally able to eat in peace!
Overall, we had an amazing time! It was a slower-paced trip than what we were used to. But it was just what we needed. Time to relax and time to spend together. Just the three of us.
Traveling with a Baby (Attempt #2): Tips for Successfully Traveling with a Baby
Maybe it’s because Baby R’s a little bit older since the last time we traveled (she was about 3 months old) or because we learned a few lessons from our New York trip and were better prepared this time, or because Cindy started following @whereisbriggs on Instagram, or a combination of all these reasons but we just wanted to share what we did differently this time around.
- We decided to not rely on the hotel or Airbnb providing a pack n’ play because that was a disaster the last time. Instead, we invested in the Guava Lotus Travel Crib. The carrying case has backpack straps, so it makes it super portable and easy to carry through an airport (super handy when you’re also lugging around suitcases, a car seat, and a stroller). It also sits right on the ground, so it doesn’t rattle and shake when the baby moves around inside. We’re convinced the rattling and shaking prevented Baby R from ever being to sleep in Pack n’ Play. She would just cry and cry and cry.
- In addition to the travel crib, we also splurged on a SlumberPod & sound machine (the same one @whereisbriggs uses) and we’re convinced the two are the secret ingredients to successful sleep while traveling. The sound machine helped blocked out any noise, which was super helpful for the days Jake had to wake up early and get ready for his conference. And the SlumberPod helped block out any visual distractions (which makes it super easy to share a room). We set Baby R up out in the living room. The two of us tested it out and sat in there one day, and it is pitch black. Baby R just kept sleeping and sleeping in there and needed to be woken up, which almost never happens!
- Jake’s parents bought us an umbrella stroller and we decided to bring that with us instead of renting a stroller. It was just a hassle the last time we used a stroller rental company– we didn’t get the stroller we wanted, it was a headache to return it before our flight, and the stroller we ended up getting didn’t have any undercarriage storage. We just had more peace of mind knowing exactly what stroller we would be traveling with by bringing our own.
- We made sure Baby R was well-rested before our flights, even though her schedule was really off and disrupted. The day we flew back, she only got about 7 hours of night sleep (we had to wake up around 4:00am to catch our flight). But, to our surprise, she did great on the flight! For both trips, Baby R fussed and cried while going through TSA, mostly because she wanted to walk around and touch everything. But other than that, the actual plane rides went relatively smoothly! Instead of keeping her up in hopes that she’ll nap on the plane, we baby-wore her and let her nap while waiting at the gate. This way, she wasn’t a cranky tired baby during the flight. We also looped the sound machine to one of the straps, which was helpful in blocking out the loud announcements every now and then.
- Our flights were only around 3-3.5 hours long, so we’re not sure how Baby R would have done for a longer flight. But we were prepared to distract, feed, and repeat until we landed! We brought lots of snacks (more than we ended up needing), packed three “plane only” toys, and downloaded a few shows onto our tablet (which we didn’t end up using cuz the seats had screens in them). We tried to hold out for as long as we could before digging into our “tools” and also tried to space out each distraction for as long as we could. Our strategy seemed to work! Baby R played around on the floor in front of Cindy’s seat for a while. Then she played peek-a-boo with the people sitting behind us (we’re so thankful they were cool and played along). And then she watched 101 Dalmations for a bit. All that lasted an hour. We tried to resort to snacking as a last resort, which we didn’t need to do until the 3rd hour! Those 3 hours felt like an eternity, but we’re just happy she didn’t scream.
- Cindy’s still nursing Baby R, so she was able to nurse during take-off and landing to help with ear popping. We did pack a juice pouch in case Baby R didn’t want to feed. Cindy also splurged on the Cocoon Nursing Cover by We Are Amma. Last time, it just felt like the cover she had didn’t actually cover anything. And it was stressful trying to get Baby R to latch while making sure she wasn’t flashing anyone. Cindy wishes she had bought the cover earlier, especially because she’ll be weaning soon so she won’t get much use out of it (at least until the next baby). The cover is very breathable, versatile, and provides 360 coverage. She highly recommends it!
- And finally, we had to compromise and travel differently than how we’re used to. We normally don’t check our bags and only pack what we can carry on. This time, we packed Baby R her own bag instead of having her share suitcase space with us. This allowed us to comfortably pack all the things that helped make this trip a success. We also rented a car this time, which wasn’t really necessary but definitely made things easier and more convenient. Normally, we’d Uber/Lyft and take public transport. But having the car saved us from the trouble of getting lost & figuring out directions. Our experience hailing an Uber in New York was a nightmare and we didn’t want to go through that again. It took so long to get the Uber that Baby R was tired, cranky, and hungry by the time it arrived and she ended up screaming the entire car ride to the Airbnb.
We’re not sure how consistent these tips are, but they sure helped make this trip a success! We’ll see how things go for our next trip!