Reflections from Santa Monica, California
It’s another warm, sunny morning here on the beach in Santa Monica.
Baby B is happily rolling in the silky sand, giggling and digging. His goofy smiles are infectious.
We know he’s getting tired because he’s starting to act silly, a mood that will soon turn to crankiness and irritability. Translation – it’s time to return to our hotel room so he can have a nap and recharge his battery. We’ll likely join him, because… well, daytime naps are awesome.
We’ve enjoyed our time here in California. Being a west coast locale, it has a lot of similarities to British Columbia. We like the active, healthy lifestyle that surrounds us. We like the combination of warm sunshine and cool ocean breeze. It’s a place we can see ourselves revisiting again.
As we make our way back to the hotel, I can’t help but absorb my surroundings. Tall palm trees, low rise apartments, a high school and an AM/PM gas station on the corner. It’s normal and ordinary.
There’s nothing particularly special about these streets, but it feels comfortable and safe.
Last week, we shared the motivation for planning our trip to Los Angeles versus another destination. As we continue to adapt to life with a toddler, our travel expectations have changed considerably.
We can’t imagine doing some of the things we used to – let alone staying up past 10:00 PM! It sounds pretty lame as I type the words, but it really isn’t. We’re very happy right now. Dare I say “comfortable and content”.
So why do we endure the headaches and frustrations that come with baby travel? Why do we spend money and subject ourselves to dreadful flights and unpredictable sleep schedules, all in the name of travel?
Because it’s worth it.
It’s not about crossing items off our bucket list or chasing lifelong dreams. In fact, it has very little to do with the actual destination. It doesn’t matter if we’re living like royalty at a luxury villa in the Caribbean or connecting with nature at a cottage on the lake.
Sure, we’ve enjoyed the Santa Monica pier and Venice Beach boardwalk, but sometimes travel is not about sightseeing and taking epic adventures.
It’s about spending time together, experiencing new things as a family. It’s about sharing a hotel room and waking up together. It’s about bouncing on the bed and having a lazy morning. It’s about eating at new restaurants and connecting with each other, as a family.
We lead very busy lives.
Our typical routine looks like this – we wake up, have breakfast, drop Baby B at day care, go to work all day, pick up Baby B from day care, go to the park, eat dinner, have a bath, read books, put him to bed, jump on our laptops, work on our blogs, answer emails, share, like, tweet… phew!
Then, we go to sleep and do it all over again tomorrow.
Travel forces us to slow down and escape our everyday routines. It forces us to reconnect with what’s most important – spending time together as a family.
We don’t get to spend as much time with him as we would like – far from it.
An hour in the morning, a couple hours at night. Weekends are typically filled with projects, social events and household duties. We like having full schedules, but it can get in the way of spending quality time together.
When we travel, we get to spend the entire day with him. He gets our full attention. We see him change every day and love watching his curious little eyes light up when he experiences something for the first time.
He teaches us to enjoy the simple things, like pouring sand over our feet and watching birds dance in the sky. And, most of all, he showers us with hugs, smiles and unconditional love.
Watching our baby grow into a toddler has been an incredible experience.
There was a time, many years ago, when a trip to a destination like Santa Monica would have been the adventure of the year, a cause for celebration. But, for a variety of reasons, this trip feels different. It does not feel adventurous or epic. It feels predictable, structured and organized.
And that’s okay. Not every trip has to bring the excitement of hiking to Machu Picchu or scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef.
The simple trips are important too.
They are important because life gets busy. They are important because our little baby boy has grown into a toddler overnight. They are important because spending time together as a family is what makes us happy and complete.
So why do we spend the money and subject ourselves to the inevitable headaches that come with baby travel?