Menu

I travel with my young kids to build their hearts, not memories

Even if they are nervous to try something outside of their comfort zones, I know they are getting bolder and braver.

I travel with my young kids to build their hearts, not memories

My son won't remember seeing the ocean for the first time. He won't remember that initial moment of shock when he felt the cool water on his toes and he won't remember how quickly that surprise gave way to joy when he realized how fun it was to kick his little legs as we held him above the waves.

But "whether he'll remember this" isn't the point. To me, the bigger questions are: How will this time re-center us on our mission as a family? What will the experience teach my children? And in what positive ways will the experience live on in our hearts, if not in our memories?

Like so much else with parenting, this helps me realize that traveling with children is so worth it—even if it's not exactly easy.

I think it's best said in the phrase, "You don't take vacations with kids, you take trips." When I travel with my toddler and baby, moments of rest are typically in even shorter supply than when we're home. Packing and planning can seem to consume just as much time as the getaway itself. Good sleep schedules and healthy routines often go out the window. And how is it that someone always saves teething for when we're away?

Then I watch as my toddler's eyes light up from the new scenery and my family's commitment to traveling is validated.

This was an essential part of my relationship with my husband for the years we had before children. From hiking mountains to sleeping under the stars to taking spontaneous road trips, so much of our shared identity was founded on our willingness to say "yes" to adventures.

But when we started on the grandest adventure of all by becoming parents, sacrificing spur of the moment trips and backcountry explorations took a bit of adjusting. We soon realized we had to decide what was worth holding onto and what we were willing to let go as we transitioned into our new roles—and even if we couldn't do things to the extreme we were accustomed to, we were committed to trying to get out there with our kids in tow.

Now we're challenged in entirely new ways by our getaways, like when my toddler announces it's "wake-up time" at 5 a.m. because he's so excited to go explore. (And there's no convincing him otherwise.) Or when we make plans to do things one way only to discover it's Just. Not. Happening. Or when we pass up the best best hiking trails for an afternoon of splashing in the shallow end of the pool.

Although this still feels so different from the way we used to travel, it recenters my husband and me in the same way we always relied on. By getting away from the distractions of home and focusing on each other (and now our children), we're reminded of what really matters.

While I sure can't say we always go home rested from these trips, we definitely go home rejuvenated.

And when it's hard, I remember that much of this is for them…

Even if they are too young to remember the details, I believe each new experience gives them a frame of reference that will live in their subconscious.

Even if they feel challenged by sitting still on airplanes, I know they are learning patience.

Even if they are nervous to try something outside of their comfort zones, I know they are getting bolder and braver.

So, yes, they may not be "vacations" in the traditional sense of the word. (And it takes a certain amount of cognitive dissonance to forget how tired we really were.) But when I see the fruits of these labors in my 2-year-old son who loves to lead the way on trails and begs to stay up just a bit later to watch the stars with us, I realize that the best part of traveling is what lives on in our hearts from the experiences.

You might also like:

We're so glad to live in a time when modern baby gear exists. Sure, no one is going to argue that having a baby is easy—but it can be easier with support from some gadgets designed to help your baby and put your mind at ease.

As you build your baby registry, look for products that go the extra mile to make your life a whole lot easier. For example, what's better than a bassinet? A bassinet that can rock by itself. And what's better than a traditional baby monitor? One that allows you to actually take a peek at your baby. Believe us when we say these upgrades can make all the difference.

Here are 10 baby gadgets that will make your life so much easier… relatively speaking, of course!


A bassinet to promote safe + sound sleep

HALO Innovations Bassinest Swivel Sleeper Essenta Series Nautical Net

The safest place for your newborn to sleep is in your room, but not in your bed. Thanks to the swivel function of the Halo Bassinest, you can easily tend to your baby during the night—which means more sleep for you, too. Trust us when we say that is the best gift you can give a new parent.

$239.99

A smart swing for your baby

4moms mamaRoo 4 Bluetooth Enabled High-Tech Baby Swing - Classic

Believe it or not, many babies are born with strong opinions about how they want to be rocked, swung or shushed to calm down. With the mamaRoo's various motions and reclining positions, you'll be able to find a setting your baby loves when you need to free up your hands for a bit.

$219.99

A complete travel system for car + sidewalk

Chicco Bravo Travel System - Indigo

No matter where the day takes you—or what mode of transportation you need to get there—getting a complete travel system for your baby will equip you for anything.

$379.99

A swaddle you don’t have to wrestle

Love To Dream Swaddle UP Original

What do babies and Harry Houdini have in common? A knack for breaking out of tight constraints—which can be a headache when swaddling is the best way to help promote good sleep. Thanks to a breakout-proof swaddle that allows your baby to sleep with their hands up, you don't have to work up a sweat just to get your baby comfortably swaddled.

$29.99

A nursery wherever you need it

Baby Trend Lil Snooze Deluxe II Nursery Center

During the early days of parenting (when you are feeding and changing your baby around the clock), having convenient access to everything you need with a go-anywhere nursery station can save you serious time and energy.

$99.99

A little help for stuffy noses

Fridababy NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator

Up until the point years down the road when your child is able to blow their own nose, the sniffles can be a real struggle—but not with a nasal aspirator that makes it easy for you to get that snot out of their nose.

$15.99

A way to keep an eye on your baby

VTech 5" Digital Video Baby Monitor - VM5251

Trust us when we say you'll sleep better when you know your baby is also sleeping soundly. That's why we're so thankful for modern-day video monitors, which allow you to check in on your sleeping baby without running the risk of waking them up when you sneak in for a peek.

$79.99

A bassinet for hands-free rocking

Simmons Kids Silent Auto Gliding Elite Bassinet - Odyssey

Babies are soothed by rocking motions. But what does that mean for you if you can't rock them throughout the night? With an auto-gliding bassinet, they can comfortably drift off to sleep... and continue snoozing.

$99.99

An easy way to contain diaper smells

Diaper Genie Expressions Pail

Sometimes it's the little conveniences that make a big difference in the quality of your day-to-day life. That's why a great diaper pail should not be undervalued: By containing the smell, you will save yourself dozens upon dozens of trips to the garbage can.

$24.99

A white noise machine that pulls double duty

Hatch Rest Sound Machine, Night Light & Time-to-Rise

A phone-controlled sound machine may be something you never considered until now, but it will be a major lifesaver for years to come, especially as it can also function as a time-to-rise clock that promotes good sleep habits for your child.

$59.99

And as for securing all these awesome products? Well, a Target baby registry is the way to do it. By creating your baby registry with Target, you will also enjoy their Year of Benefits registry program, which includes perks like a welcome kit with more than $100 in savings and samples, two 15% off coupons to complete your registry, and a full year of returns. The benefits are better than ever right now: Target just launched the Year of Exclusive Deals perk as one of its registry benefits, and this includes a year's worth of discounts on baby essentials (think diapers and formula) and comes complementary when you sign up for Target Circle.

Because while parenting may not be "easy," deciding to register with Target definitely is an easy decision. Start your Target baby registry now and enjoy shopping with a Year of Benefits featuring a Year of Exclusive Deals available via Target Circle, two 15% off coupons, a year of hassle-free returns, a free welcome kit and more!

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

Sorry, you can’t meet our baby yet

Thank you for understanding. ❤️

In just over three weeks, we will become parents. From then on, our hearts will live outside of our bodies. We will finally understand what everyone tells you about bringing a child into the world.

Lately, the range of emotions and hormones has left me feeling nothing short of my new favorite mom word, "hormotional." I'm sure that's normal though, and something most people start to feel as everything suddenly becomes real.

Our bags are mostly packed, diaper bag ready, and birth plan in place. Now it's essentially a waiting game. We're finishing up our online childbirth classes which I must say are quite informational and sometimes entertaining. But in between the waiting and the classes, we've had to think about how we're going to handle life after baby's birth.

I don't mean thinking and planning about the lack of sleep, feeding schedule, or just the overall changes a new baby is going to bring. I'm talking about how we're going to handle excited family members and friends who've waited just as long as we have to meet our child. That sentence sounds so bizarre, right? How we're going to handle family and friends? That sentence shouldn't even have to exist.

Keep reading Show less
Life

10 photos to take on baby’s first day that you'll cherish forever

You'll obsess over these newborn baby pictures.

Bethany Menzel: Instagram + Blog

As you're preparing for baby's birth, we bet you're dreaming of all of the amazing photos you'll take of your precious new babe. As a professional photographer and mama, I have some tips for newborn photos you'll want to capture.

Here are the 10 photos you will want to take on baby's first day.

Keep reading Show less
Life