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Marissa Jaret Winokur’s Blog: ‘Vacationing’ with Kids

11/05/2010 at 09:00 AM ET

Thanks for welcoming Marissa Jaret Winokur! The actress, who co-hosts the new CBS daytime chat show, The Talk, is mom to 2-year-old Zev Isaac with her husband Judah Miller. Winokur, 37, was diagnosed with cervical cancer 10 years ago, had a hysterectomy and later welcomed her son with the help of a surrogate. Though her road to motherhood had a few twists and turns, she faces the same joys — and challenges — as any working mom. In her latest blog, Winokur discusses the elation and frustration of traveling with kids.


Marissa, Zev, his uncle and cousins – Courtesy Marissa Jaret Winokur

 

This week I went on a vacation — one of my first since I’ve been a mom. The question is: WHY DO WE DO IT?! In theory, it sounds fun. It sounds relaxing. It’s a vacation after all – a holiday! But when traveling with a child, it should be called something else!

Putting It All Together

The changes began when planning the trip six months ago. Should we go to Vegas (like always)? No … WALT DISNEY WORLD!! Zev will love it! Picking the right flight was not easy. Because of Zev it was, ‘What is a good time to travel for him?’ — not us. And that was just the icing.

Now, I understand that life changes so much when you have a child, but for some reason this “vacation” really solidified it for me! I think the first clue was in packing … I didn’t pack one pair of nice shoes. Flip-flops and sneakers were all I needed! For the toiletry bag, I had the bare necessities. Lip-gloss and mascara (which I never touched) were all I brought for makeup. No curling iron, no dresses — just a bathing suit cover up and lots of undies.

My husband and I fit all our stuff into one little rolly bag carry on … But then HOW did I have two bags to check? I mean, my son is only 2 years old, and weighs only 30 lbs. How much stuff can he need?! The answer is: EVERYTHING!! It took many lists and a week to pack!

Then there was scheduling. I remember going on trips with my husband and just lying in bed and saying, “What should we do today?” But this time, I had everything planned out — every meal, every ride, every second to make sure Zev ate and had his naps!

For a kid-friendly hotel, I picked the BoardWalk because it has, well, a boardwalk and boats. We also met up with my brother and his kids at Disney. Now that I have a child, it’s more fun vacationing with family members, plus it’s great for cousins who live 3,000 miles apart to spend time together.

In the park, I missed Tower of Terror because Zev is obviously too small, but went on It’s a Small World three times! The only sit-down meals we had included Mickey and Donald. No late night drinks and moonlit walks. Actually, I take that back: every night we saw people having yummy drinks as we passed them with our stroller while walking Zev around for his “moonlit walk” — to sleep.

We didn’t rent one pay-per-view movie (one of my favorite things to do in hotels) because when Zev fell asleep, we would literally pass out! No hotel sex, no energy.


Donald Duck and Zev – Courtesy Marissa Jaret Winokur

 

Watching Zev Experience New Things

The biggest difference, though, was that I took 3,000 photos. I didn’t waste my time lying around. I wanted to share all the new adventures with Zev. I was so excited watching him grow and see things he’d never seen before. It wasn’t a romantic getaway — it was a memory for a lifetime.

I will forget the horrible flight and I will forget being more tired than I have ever been. But I will never forget seeing Zev meet Donald Duck — his favorite character — or watch his first firework show (every night). The family bond that was made by leaving our everyday lives was amazing.

The trip reminded me that I need to put my BlackBerry down and just BE with my son. I multitask way too much. It goes back to the balancing act. I was able to be a mom 100 percent on vacation. And I don’t need to be at Disney to do it. This weekend, I plan on leaving my phone at home and going to a park and just being with Zev.

I will start to work on the wife thing next week…

It’s funny — I started writing this blog about how hard it is to travel with a child and how much I miss traveling alone with my husband. But while I was writing, I tried to remember trips I took before and NONE were as special or even as romantic as my family’s first trip to Walt Disney World. I have never loved my husband more than I did while watching him hold our son on his shoulders during the fireworks show.

So, I take it back. It was a perfect holiday!


Judah and Zev watch the fireworks – Courtesy Marissa Jaret Winokur

 

Reflecting on Last Week’s Blog

I loved all your comments from last week. I read every single one and will continue to do so. I really do feel like we can build a little community. Even the people who think I am a spaz mom, your comments are appreciated. I admit I am a spaz! I would love to meet the woman who could remain calm while her baby is locked in the car in the valley in L.A. in the hot sun.

Yes, I strive to be that mom. We all do. I see where I may have sounded like a crazy person and appreciate your comments, as well as the countless women who told tales of their own children being locked in scary places.

Thank you for sharing. It made this mom feel better.

Next week: Why is the saying “sleeping like a baby”? What baby sleeps?!

– Marissa Jaret Winokur

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Showing 62 comments

Bethan on

Wow, Marissa, you’re raising a beautiful little boy in your son. I look forward to your blogs, I feel that I can empathise with everything you say, plus you express everything in such an awesome way. Keep writing!

Miche on

Totally understand the vacation stuff!! There is so much “what ifs” and “just in cases”. We always end up packing the whole house because we never know what will help the babies feel a sense of normalcy in all the newness!! You never know how kids will respond to a new bed, new environment, new schedule, etc!

We visited family in Hawaii and other than HATING the feeling of sand on their feet, the kids did great! We used not even half of the junk we brought, but I’m glad we had it “just in case!”. And while it wasn’t a romantic vacation, hubby and I did get away to swim in the ocean while they were napping and auntie watched them for us!!

Anonymous on

There are some strong genes in that family. Zev looks exactly like his mom, and very much like the cousins.

Steph on

Hi Marissa!
I have been enjoying your blogs since you have started but for some reason this one made me all giddy inside. I am 23 yrs old and have a 9 month old daughter (my one and only). I am scared to DEATH to take her any where because of all the stress and hassle it would be to pack and get everything ready.

After reading your blog, it made me realize that all of that wont matter at the end of all the day because i created a memory for life with the love of my life. I just wanted to say thank you for sharing all of your stories from first time motherhood with all of us out there doing and experiencing the same craziness on a day to day basis. :)

Paige on

Just had to say that I LOVE reading your blog! You are so down to earth- it’s refreshing! So, “Thank you!” for being real, I think the world could use a little more of that! :)

xoxo

Lulu on

Marissa we were just planning our first vacation with our 18 month old. We changed our minds from first thinking about going to a tropical all inclusive hotel, to maybe just going to Florida, to deciding just to drive 2 hours away to a Waterpark/Hotel.

(Stress about packing/feeding/chasing our little one around a foreign hotel made us decide to stay closer to home for this one.) When he’s a little older we’re looking forward to doing the Disney thing!

Nicole on

Hi Marissa,
Just wanted to say that last little bit you wrote about never loving your husband as much as when he had your son on his shoulders watching the fireworks actually made me cry a bit. It’s such a beautiful thing to think about, and we as moms are so lucky to be able to feel such amazingly strong emotions from such a simple thing.

Lilianne on

I always say that vacations are terrible for relaxing…especially if you have kids! But I think you picked the absolute perfect place for Zev’s first and for a family vacation! I took my oldest there when she was 2 also so I know that your little boy probably won’t remember a moment of it but YOU will!

I really appreciate your words about Mom’s being a community for each other because I don’t think we have enough of that. I hope this blog in particular changes a bit and some of the women writing in it try to remember to be more respectful of each other..and that goes for me too!! We are all just trying to do our best and some days that best is better than others.

Lilianne on

P. S. You and your brother sure resemble each other and your kids are all cuties!

Jeanette on

Ha, Ha Marissa, I just had to laugh at your post because I have SO been there, down to the cramming of all my and my husband’s stuff into the smallest suitcase, and scheduling alot of activities around naps. I always joke that a trip with the kids (I have 2 under the age of 3) is not a vacation, just a trip! Still, we all survived, and when I look back at the photos, we’re all smiling, so we must have had a good time :)

Katie on

Marissa, you hit the nail right on the head. Taking a vacation with kids is far from a vacation. It’s a lot of hard work. But it is hard work that is so completely and totally worthwhile. Seeing my little boy’s face light up when he sees something new and fascinating, whether it be the ocean, Niagara Falls, the Rocky Mountains, or Buzz Lightyear, makes the stress of traveling with a child completely disappear. I love traveling with my son. His excitement and energy is contagious, and it makes our trip so much more fulfilling.

Thanks for sharing your adventures in parenting. I thoroughly enjoy reading your posts. :)

Mel on

So I don’t have kids yet, but my family (parents, my sis & her husband, my husband & me, little sister) all went to WDW this summer and stayed at the Boardwalk. It was “easier” to get around because there weren’t kids in our group… At the same time- it would have been so neat to see WDW through a kid’s eyes! I hope we can do the trip again once there are kids in the family. So glad you got to enjoy such an amazing trip with your family. And isn’t the Boardwalk the best?!?

Adriana on

Hi Marissa! We are planning on taking our 3 1/2 year old and 2 year old to Disney in December, and let me tell you, I have already begun the lists, the itineraries, etc for the trip! Taking a vacation is definitely different now with the kids than before! I am glad to see you had such a great time at Disney! I am nervous about going, but I am hoping once I am there, the magic of Disney will help ease some of my fears! Thanks for a great blog post!

Lilianne on

Aww..Adriana..I hope you have a great time!! Try not to be too nervous. Like I said, I took my daughter there at age 2 and then again when she was 9 and her little sister was 4. Its a great place to go! Some suggestions…if you and your husband don’t both have cell phones, take walkie talkies so you can stay in touch. Instead of taking every ride together have each adult get into a line with one having the kids and when that adult is done with the ride, pass the kids off to the other person so that YOU have the majority of the wait time and not your little ones.

Laura on

Reading your blog this week reminded me of the first real family vacation we took to Disneyland. My boys were 6 and 4 and our daughter was 5 months old. It was a spur of the moment trip because I unexpectedly came into some money towards the end of summer and it was “now or never”, so we went. We literally planned and left in one day for Disneyland with my sister tagging along at the last moment. We also took my sister in law because in one moment of clarity I realized that I would not be able to ride anything with a 5 month old!

Our trip also included a stop to see some of my husband’s family that he hadn’t seen in years. While he and his sister visited with them for a couple of hours my sister and I ran to K-mart (the only store in town) and got everything I forgot to pack. Sunscreen, sandals, shorts for the husband. The good thing is it was end of summer so most of the stuff was on sale.

Loads of great memories were created and I discovered that traveling is not too bad if you let some things go and don’t worry about them too much. Love your stories, keep writing as honestly as you do.

Daphne on

Marissa, I have a 9-month old baby girl, Celia, and we live in Mozambique, Africa! I work for an organization called “Save the Children.” Last week, my husband, Celia and I and my mother-in-law (who came from the US to visit us) traveled to Swaziland. Although we’re a continent away and are living completely different lives, our experience traveling with Celia was so similar to yours that I just had to laugh out loud!

We swear by the Baby Bjorn travel crib (which we set up in 30 secs) and a few other items that we brought from the US, but also bask in the generosity of a culture that is so much child-friendly than ours in many respects. Still, it was all about making sure that Celia got her naps and had her bottles and meals on time. And when she went to bed, we also collapsed. Sending you hugs all the way from the other side of the world!

Faith on

As professional photographers, my husband and I travel a lot for work as well as pleasure. We also tend to take way too many photos when on any vacation. Since having our son, we find that the number of breathtaking scenery photos is now fairly low compared to cute photos of our little guy on the beach, at the pool, at a luau, etc…

As you expressed, we’ve loved our vacations more than ever before when our son is with us. It forces us to BE in the moment and to get creative, because you can’t predict what your child will be up for doing. We get over the fact that he wants fries at 10am since for him it’s likely mid-afternoon. We go with the flow when our son would rather nap poolside than eat at fancy restaurant.

But the best part of our travels is that our son, who is developmentally delayed, shows us a million new things he understands. His words and language seem to burst out of him. We were in Hawaii recently and he looked up and shouted “Mom – look…a rainbow! A huge RAINBOW! WOW!” That was longest sentence I have ever heard him say in 4 years. Those are the moments of our vacation we treasure and the reason why we take him everywhere with us (and check those two extra bags!)

Kris on

I love your blogging style, too! It’s nice to read about another “real” mom & not all happy sunshiney mermaids pooping rainbows all the time.

You’re braver than we are . . . I can’t imagine taking a 2-year-old on a plane. :) We stick to the weekenders within driving distance, and ALWAYS in a city with a Walmart nearby. Just in case.

Happy you enjoyed your vacay!

Rachel on

Hello Marissa,

I love ready your blogs, you are truly down to earth. I struggled for years about working and almost felt guilt about going to work. It was truly difficult to be wife, mom and employee. The balancing act is difficult, but it can be done. You need to find time for all three and find time for yourself. I raised three sons, very close in age, as a single mother for a while. I’m very fortunate I had my parents to help me, without them I really don’t think I could have done it. My sons are grown now, so cherish all the memories you have with your son, the time passes so quickly! Keep writing Marissa. I just love your blogs!

Jenny on

Oh Marissa, I identify with you in so many ways, right down to the indefatigably cheerful nature. My husband and I aren’t lucky enough to have kids yet due to our own struggles there, but you really inspire hope that it can happen! This was a beautiful post and I feel such joy to share in your glee. Thanks for opening up!

Luna on

Taking a trip with little ones is not a vacation, holiday, or anything else you used to call it before kids. But it is 110 times more rewarding.

We have five (ahhhhh) ages nine, six, six, three, and fifteen months. They’re all two and a half to three years apart and it is hard to find a time where I don’t have a baby to go on vacation. We took our first and only Disney trip with kids when my twins were about two and a half. My oldest remembers it and it was stressful but so rewarding. They loved it! When I got home, surprise I was pregnant (happened before vacation)! Now, we take week long trips with my side of the family to the Jersey Shore. We rent a house and the kids love it.

Zev won’t remember it, but you’ll remember the fantastic bonding experience with your son. And really isn’t that what parenting is about? I love your blog, it’s so real!

Nicole on

Your blog is my favorite! I always feel happier for reading your entries. I feel a little part of me in everything you do. At first I thought I was flattering myself. Now, I realize that mommyhood is a collective experience. Thank you for sharing :)

Tara on

You posted this blog at the perfect time! My husband and I are taking our 15 month old daughter to Aruba tomorrow morning. I have been panicking for months now about the 5 hour flight. My daughter doesn’t sit still for 5 minutes let alone 5 hours. Plus I have been packing and repacking for days. How can such a little girl require so much stuff??? But you brought out what is most important and that is watching our children experience things for the first time and share in their joy! And I will try and do just that!

ShaunaG. on

Can I just say I love you! You say everything I have thought since becoming a mom, but have been afraid to say because, people will think I am terrible. My son is 17 months & my life has completely changed since having him, but in all the right ways. I am still trying to get down the balancing act, but it will come. I really wish you had your own new mothers show. That would be amazing, being able to connect with other mothers & relate to one another.

Thanks again for posting on the blog…because to you, your post may be nothing, but they truly do help & touch me. Thanks again…..and Zev is so freakin adorable!

Stacy on

Hi Marissa – We just returned from the same trip to Disney with our 5- and 2-year old sons (in fact, I have the same pic of my 2-year old with Donald). We are soooo alike. I too only pack flip flops & gym shoes (and I only wear workout clothes, which I read in one of your previous blogs). I don’t even bother to dry my hair anymore & let the natural waves take over! Yes, the trips & flights with the kids are exhausting & not really relaxing at all, but I too cherish every minute of these new experiences with my boys.

You’re not alone – we are all spaz moms at times! I just quit my full time job to spend these last couple of years with my boys while they are little. I can’t tell you how guilty & overwhelmed I have felt the past few years. It’s a huge sacrifice financially for me to stay home, but I just felt in my heart it was the right thing to do. Love your blog!

B.J. on

The look on Zev’s face in the photo with Donald is priceless :) Very cute. Having worked at Disneyland, I can tell you, very few people are there to relax!! Haha!

Mary on

The first time is always the roughest. Soon you’ll realize you won’t need 1/2 the stuff you bring for your son. He’ll get used to traveling and become an expert flyer. It will get easier with time.

Amy on

As I am getting ready to board a plan tomorrow with my family for a 6 day trip to Disney, this was the perfect post. It was a reminder to just relax and have a good time. If I forget something, I will buy it. If something goes wrong, it will be ok. If something unplanned happens, it happens. I am preparing myself to live through the eyes of a 7 year old for the next week. Thank you

Lisa on

Marissa, in my house (with a 2-year-old and 3-month-old twins), we call a vacation simply a “change of scenery.” :)

Tatiana on

Travelling with a young child is definitely one of THE most stressful things…would I do it again? Absoultely! Thank you so much for your honesty and candor…it is very refreshing to hear a hollywood mama who goes through the same things us “normal” mothers do…Kudos to you and I love your blog.

Amy on

Thanks for keeping it real, and saying the things that is in most of our mommy minds. I don’t normally comment, but I think your blog will validate some people when they need it most. We are NOT crazy..hahaha…just trying to figure out life.

Anonymous on

I really enjoy reading your blog. You have a wonderful sense of humor and an upbeat personality. Keep it up. You are great. Your son and your husband seem like really special people. I think it’s because of you.

Karen on

It does get easier to travel with the kids as they get older. Loved, loved, loved the photo of Zev with Donald Duck. That’s what it’s all about. Once you have a child, it really is all about them. You get that. You’re doing great! Don’t be so hard on yourself!

Amy on

My son is two and travels like a dream – has from the first trip we’ve taken. He’ll sleep anywhere. He doesn’t fuss during transit. He’s full of wonder and sweetness every step of the way. And we bring the bare minimum of supplies for him. No extra bags. I’d become smug and convinced it’s awesome mothering, because of course I’m a super awesome mother.

And then I had a daughter. I don’t know that it’s possible to scream louder than she has during travel. The two trips we spent in hotels I didn’t sleep for a single minute because she was playing banshee – devil banshee!! She learned how to unhook her belt in the stroller and kept trying to make a break for it – and she couldn’t walk yet!! She threw tantrums, bit, snarled at strangers – I wasn’t sure she hadn’t caught zombism. And we have to pack every item we own and more to please her. Turns out it’s not the mother (or so I hope!), it’s just the trip.

Glad you had a good one!! We did manage to get some lovely pictures of her when she was taking a breath preparing for the next scream.

Linda Pauley on

Hi Marissa,
Your blog will be a hit. You talk and write about experiences most moms can relate to easily. Like you, I turned to mush at Disney World. I cried the first time I saw the expression on my young daughter’s face when she Cinderella’s castle for the first time. The characters were dancing to “When You Wish upon a Star”. My husband was lifting her up above the crowd so she could see the princess show. In that snapshot moment, i realized he was her Prince Charming too……..as well as mine…….and I burst into tears — the expression on her face, how safe and happy she felt……..just as a child should feel……beautiful.

Sarah on

Just want to say I love these blogs. I’m a Women’s Studies major and I can’t think of a better way to support one another as mother’s and father’s than to be honest about the experiences of having children. I’m happy to see People includes the father’s blog, as well as the mother’s, so that everyone can understand the struggles and joys together. Being honest and discussing reality is so important so that other mothers and fathers realize they aren’t alone in their experiences!

Becky on

It is amazing how much time and energy it takes to vacation with children, but totally worth it! We take our three children to Disney World every year and it keeps getting easier. Now that they are all past naps (4, 7, & 9) we can stay all day and I no longer go on the Transit Authority and Small World 10 times a day while the bigger kids go on Space Mountain, Big Thunder, etc.

Enjoy every minute of it now, before too long you’ll be wishing you could sit down on one of them for a few minutes to rest! Watching your child’s face light up when they see the castle and their favorite character is the best! I’m so glad that you all enjoyed your trip to the Happiest Place on Earth! Happy Vacationing in the Future!

Brookie on

Too funny! It must be something about Disney. We too did the Disney vacation earlier this year. I think you need a vacation after your Disney vacation! We had never been so we were rookies, and I had NO IDEA how chaotic it could be. Catch this bus here, take a ferry here, jump on the mono rail, hop off at the park…. After the nightly fireworks (which are so awesome!) you get back on the bus with a tired, dirty child who has a bit of dried cotton candy on their face and the whole family looks just exhausted! You literally hit the bed and pass out and do it all over again the next day. But I agree with you Marissa, when you look at the wonder in your childs eyes and experience that right along with them, it makes every chaotic moment worth it. I’ll even admit that I absolutely turned back into a child during that vacation- Disney can captivate just about anyone! :)

Love your blog, and you have a beautiful family!

dholmas on

Wonderful story. My ex and I went to DW years ago with another couple and their 4 year daughter. After the first day of walking and rides all day we rented a stroller for the rest of the trip. Best thing we could have done. She was able take a nap in it when she got tired and was less cranky.

Janice on

We took our son at 5 weeks old to Disney World. Now I know that sounds crazy but my husband had a conference and I was still on maternity leave. We have always been big travelers so we thought no biggy. We did opt to drive which was a good idea and my husband’s parents met us at Disney. It was a wonderful trip and yes we will take him back when he is old enough to enjoy it. The trip did make me realize I can do anything I am a Mom! Since then we have taken him on many trips and he loves it. I love your blogs.

Tammy on

Regarding traveling with kids, a good friend of mine once said “It’s not a vacation…it’s a family trip” It’s so true!

Jennifer on

I hear ya! I have an almost 3-year-old, 5-year-old and 12-year-old. We have done several family trips and for the most part we drive everywhere we go (cheaper and somewhat easier), but exhausting. It is true that it is not a “vacation” in the sense that there is no relaxation time. The trips are fun, but at the same time I would love to just have an adult only vacation with my husband. So we can go and do whatever we want, sleep in, etc. Go out to a restaurant and not have our kids screaming.

We are heading to Florida for another family vacation in a few weeks and headed to Disney for the first time. Looking forward to it, but already dreading the packing and organization that will go into the vacation! LOL!

candice smith on

Loved this blog, I myself just returned from our first trip to Disney World and like you my husband and I were exhausted dead to the world after walking around for 10hrs a day. However tired we might have been it was a priceless vacation filled with magical memories. I will never forget the they way their faces looked when they were watching their first disney parade (halloween parade).

Anyone with small children must go at least once, the sheer joy of on their faces is amazing. My oldest cried the last day because he did not want to go home.

Kristin on

Marissa-

I understand the humor here, but it sounds like a lot of complaining too. I only WISH I could afford a trip to Disney. It would mean the world to my 6-yr-old.

I work full-time, but fear I’ll never be able to bring him that dream.

If I was, I promise I’d never make one PEEP about not wearing make-up or the need to wear flip-flops.

You are so lucky. Remember that.

Kris

ForeverMoore on

My husband and I just took our almost 5 month old son on a roadtrip…from Southern California to Phoenix (6 1/2 hours)…we were SO nervous to be on the road that long but Nolan was such a champ! You are so right, Marissa – it really bonds everyone together as a family unit…I felt a lot closer to both my husband and my son. For those who are afraid, just do it…laugh at the things that go wrong and relish the times when everything goes perfectly!

Allison on

Oh my Lord, Marissa, you brought back so many memories I had of taking my two kids (then age 2 and age 5) to Disneyland by myself. (I’m a single parent). I met up at the Tiki/Hawaiian themed hotel with my parents, brother, sister-in-law and two year old niece.

Every picture I took had my 5 year old son smiling, but my 2 year old daughter and niece were always asleep in their strollers or someone’s arms.

It was the most exhausting trip of my life, and we were only there three days!

After day one of touring the park, my brother asked me, “Where is the bar?” I told him, “It’s Disneyland, there IS no bar!” He took a cab and got a huge bottle of Crown Royal, which he hid from my parents in his hotel room.

Each night, after coming back to the rooms, my brother, his wife, and I would dump out half of the cola out of our cola cans and fill the rest up with Crown Royal! My parents never figured it out! It was the only way the three of us parents could unwind and go to sleep.

By the way, my kids are 10 and 7 now, and they LOVE looking at the pictures from Disneyworld. They asked me when we could go back, and I said, “When you both are older than 16, and I can go to the spa while you ride the rides!”

Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Marissa. I know Zev will love looking at those 3,000 photos when he is older. Best to you and your beautiful family.

Allison

Erika on

I LOVE Disney! The boardwalk hotel is so beautiful, and I HIGHLY recommend the beach club as well! I tell everyone who is planning to go there to stay in one of those places and they look at me like I’m nuts lol. But it’s TOTALLY worth the money!

Looks like Zev (and you) had a great time!

ecl on

Dear Kris,

You should be grateful that you have a child. Some people are infertile. And people who are infertile, you should be grateful that you aren’t being raped in the Congo. I hope you get where I am going with this. She never said she wasn’t grateful for her life and family and opportunities.

Marissa is a breath of fresh air as a mother who tells it like it is. Should she say that it isn’t hard to adjust to traveling with kids? I think from the responses she got, mothers like to know that there are other people out there going through the same transitions.

Beth on

Marissa, Thank you for sharing your parenting experiences in such a humorous and realistic way. Your blog is one of the best in People magazine for its heartfelt sincerity and raw honesty. I appreciate your view that the “mommy village” needs to help all parents raise strong, healthy, moral, educated children, working together in a collective effort.

This blog brought back a flood of memories for me. I was a working mother, the primary breadwinner for our family of four, until I was in a near-fatal car accident at age 33. My husband stayed at the hospital with me for 3 months, while my father lived in our home caring for our daughter, who turned 6 while I was hospitalized, and our son, 3. We only saw our children for short visits once a week. During many long painful nights my husband and I would keep our spirits up by saying “When this is all over we are going to Disneyland!”. We were too naive then to know what that trip would take. It took 2 years to “recover” from the accident, longer to settle all the legal and financial problems. I was left with severe osteoarthritis, deformed joints, poor balance, pain, PTSD and a mild head injury. With me unable to work or drive, my husband suddenly had to find a local job with benefits, not return to his family construction business. Meanwhile, our daughter was diagnosed with ADHD, then my son with ADD, then both with bipolar disorder and special learning needs.

Money was tight and stress was high. My in-laws knew about our quest to take the kids to Disney; they gifted us 2 weeks of resort time from a travel club and we booked a handicapped condo in Orlando. Packing the van was tight with my motorized scooter and needed gear, everyone’s medications, and luggage. Our kids were then 12 and 9; only my oldest could remember vacations before the accident. It took us 6 years to achieve our dream to take our kids to Disney. We drove to spread out the travel, adding an extra rest day for me coming home when needed. With week long Disney passes and the condo so close by, we could go back and rest for evening events. I missed a few outings, but overall I got to participate fully, which was my dream.

Disney is very handicapped friendly and accessible; on the first day I was issued a pass showing I was disabled, which allowed me and my family to use different entrances or be placed on certain ride cars because of my scooter. Yet, our kids were NOT having fun; they were overwhelmed by the crowds, scared of most of the rides, hard to keep track of as they darted around, and unable to stand still or focus. Day 2 I spoke to the desk and was given a different disabled pass to use. This pass told the Disney employees my children had “invisible disorders” and allowed us to skip to the front of any line or exit any ride pronto. Between the passes to allow us on and off rides quickly and our kid’s new found love of pin collecting and trading, our trip was a family memory like no other!

I spend most of my time in bed and my wall is decorated with photos and pin collections from our family trip to Disney 5 years ago. We may never get to take another family vacation, but that trip signified to me that I had survived, we had survived as a family, and a new phase of our lives was just beginning. God bless you!

gina r on

Ecl,
Your response to Kris’s comment is harsh and out of line. I realize that discussion is encouraged on this blog and dissenting views are inevitable, but your comment was downright nasty.

Emmy on

Sounds like you had a great time, i know how had it can be travelling with kids, but just like you said, so rewarding! I enjoyed your blog and its funny but just before i read your blog my husband and i were planning our holiday trip with our 5 kids, made me even more excited now!

Also just wanted to say Zev is such a handsome little man, i loved the photo of him with Donald Duck, his my favourite cartoon character too !

Niche on

Love, love, love Marissa’s blog!! By far the most refreshingly honest, mommy point of view so far. I’m a mom of a 5 year old son and vacationing has always been an interesting situation :)
We usually visit the beaches on the Outer Banks or Colonial Williamsburg… etc. I’m definately looking forward to when I’m able to take him to Disney!

Shannon on

Your son is so cute and you are beautiful! Love your blogs!

Tee on

Marissa, I’m really enjoying reading your posts! When my two oldest nieces were two years old and nine months old, my sister and I decided to drive from Louisiana to Pennyslvania for our cousin’s wedding. I’m sure it goes without saying that we’re crazy. We needed a vacation after the vacation! I’m so glad that Zev got to hang out with his cousins! There is nothing more important than your family!

Kristin- I really didn’t get the impression that Marissa was complaining at all! She was simply stating the difference in traveling without a child and traveling with a child. I’m sorry but I think your comment was a little out of line. I didn’t know what to make of all the negative and crazy comments on her last blog post and I really hope that doesn’t happen on this blog post as well.

miranda on

Hi Marissa,
You sound like such a loving mom! This is a little off topic (maybe for next week), but just wanted to say follow your gut about sleep issues with your son. They are little for such a short time, and sleeping with them is such a delight. I struggled with this issue a great deal, got all the negative comments from everyone who told me to do CIO and make my son sleep in his own bed alone, but in the end followed my own intuition and ended up cosleeping. I know it won’t last forever and am enjoying the cuddles while I can–it is hard to believe that in a few years my son probably won’t even want me to hug him anymore! Especially if Zev is going to be your only child, just relax and enjoy the snuggles–he will become independent and sleep on his own in good time when he is ready. I will never understand why so many Americans think you have to whip a baby in shape and make him independent (and take away all his comforts like the paci or bottle or nursing or blankets) or else he will still be dependent on them by the time he goes to college!

Lala on

Zev looks so much like his cousins. I love your blog & to see your segments on The Talk. I wish you were a regular co host there :).

Amy on

Marissa, just love your blog and your honesty about what it’s like being a mom! Traveling with little ones is so difficult. It really changes everything and the trip isn’t the same at all. But it’s just amazing to see the world through your child’s eyes, isn’t it. Can’t wait for your next blog :)

NoAdditives on

I hate travelling with little kids! For my husband’s birthday last year we got a free trip to New York for the Veteran’s Day parade. My daughter had just turned 1. She was amazing on the fights, she never cried, yelled, or bothered the passengers. Until we were landing and she threw up, almost on a girl sitting next to us. She and I both threw up twice on the flights home (I was 4 months pregnant.) My husband and I shared one big suitcase and my daughter got another suitcase, bigger than ours. We had to bring so many clothes, toys, etc. It was ridiculous.

Then for Christmas we drove from SoCal to visit my husband’s family in Utah and Idaho. None of his family did any sort of baby proofing, not even removing breakable objects from coffee tables. His mom tried a little but my daughter still managed to find a mousetrap that snapped on her hand. I spent the entire two weeks watching her every move while my husband had a great time catching up with his family.

Last summer we took a road trip from Ventura, CA to Eugene, OR for my 10 year HS reunion and to visit my family there. Our VW Passat, which normally seems like a big enough car, was packed absolutely full because we needed so much for my then 3 month old son. That trip was decent, my mom and grandma were more than happy to help with the kids and my husband and I even got to go out by ourselves a few times.

In my opinion, travelling with babies or toddlers just isn’t worth it. I know it’s impossible to put your life on hold for a few years, but that’s our plan now, especially since we’ll be having another baby. We just moved from SoCal to Albuquerque, NM and luckily, our family is now coming to visit us!

Jennifer on

Great blog. Did you know that you can rent a lot of baby/toddler/children items you will need while traveling instead of packing them? That is what we do when we travel. I use the website http://www.babytravelpros.com to find a list of reputable rental companies for the state in which I am traveling to. We have had great luck with renting baby/toddler gear. They even deliver it and pick it up!

Court on

Wow, this made me tear up. It was so true from the flight with the ridiculous amounts of stuff packed for such a small person down to loving your husband so deeply while watching him be a loving father. I myself have never enjoyed life more, being a mom is pure joy.

Dayna on

Marissa, I just stumbled upon your blog and just had to read it. My son is now 5 1/2 but the first time we took him to Disney he was 1 1/2. I scheduled everything around him the flight, resort and meals just as you had.

We’ve been there a few times since then, the last time being in May and I have to tell you I was just as spastic, I had a carry on of art supplies and games to occupy him on the 3 hour flight.

The only happy hour my husband and I took advantage of was at Starbucks but we didn’t complain the caffeine helped us keep up with our son.

I agree traveling with young children isn’t always easy but all you have to do is sit with Zev and your husband and view the pictures of your trip, when Zev’s face lights up you’ll know the time, money, planning, worry was all worth it!

MG on

I’ve been traveling with my daughter since she was 3 weeks old. She’s 2 now & has pretty much become a pro at long distance trips. We’ve learned to start driving around nap time, or later in the evening so that she sleeps longer. I can’t say that I love being in the car for 6-8 hours, but I love to see her experience different things once we get to our destination.

I’ve taken her on a few trips to Disneyland since she was 6 mos old. Around time this blog came out, we had just finished a Disney trip. This one was a favorite of mine because it was the first time my husband was able to come with us. It’s amazing how Disneyland goes from getting on as many rides as you can, to seeing how many characters you can take pictures with. Seeing my daughter on the Finding Nemo ride was priceless as was her being star struck over Minnie & Pluto.

Traveling with a toddler is tough, regardless if it’s by car or plane. But I think it’s worth it in the end.

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