SURVIVING A HOTEL STAY WITH KIDS

I was asked frequently during the summer if we were "going anywhere," or if we had any "big trips planned." Uh, does the grocery store count? Or maybe a trip to Costco? Because I can do those; nobody needs to sleep in a bed that is not their own for those trips to happen.

But, of course, summer vacations. I get that. I dream of road trips and beaches and exploring faraway places as a family. I am counting down the years until our kids are old enough for us to stay at a resort by a lake somewhere for a month or so every summer, a la Dirty Dancing. Seeing the world is important to us, and it is woven into so many of our future plans.

But right now?

Right now, two of our three kids still wake up during the night. Right now, we're lucky to get all three to bed in under two hours. Right now, I can barely get all of them to sit still long enough to eat lunch, let alone sit still for hours in their car seats. As it stands, they're maxed out at thirty minutes in the car per day. Right now, big trips are out. And it's okay, truly. It's just the season we're in.

Still, we've been wanting to do something that necessitated packing a suitcase, if even for a night, for awhile now. So over the weekend, we packed up (two suitcases, if you're wondering) and headed about an hour away to Deer Valley, figuring if worse came to worst, we would just drive back home.

Aside from the sleep situation (we didn't get much) (any, really), it was a successful first overnight outing with all three kids. Being that I am now qualified to discuss such things, I've amassed some tips for maintaining your sanity while staying in a hotel with small children.



CALL AHEAD TO HAVE THE MINIBAR EMPTIED We called ahead and asked that everything be removed from the bar in the room before we checked in. It was a stroke of genius, no doubt. That nine dollar bag of gummy bears would have been opened and gone, all five little bears, before I'd even realized they'd seen it. No one wants to pay for their children to be sugar-filled tyrants, especially not at those prices. And, since there was nothing to attract attention, I saved at least an hour of time that I would have otherwise spent standing in front of the fridge acting as a human barricade.

When it's time to check out, though, you might be ready to pony up for some chocolate, or liquor if we're being honest, as well you should. That said, check out is usually at eleven so, you know, use discretion.

SELECT A HOTEL WITH ROBES AND SLIPPERS I figure, if you look like you're ready for a weekend of luxurious r&r, you might just trick your brain into believing that's what you're getting. Fake it until you make it, or something. At any rate, it's a nice thought. And miniature robes and slippers are always darling. It's hard to get frustrated when something is darling.

SCOUT OUT THE AMENITIES It's well and good to know where the pool and ice machine are located. What's better is knowing where the sports bar is at; the one that will let you in after hours with a toddler up past their bedtime. And if you know ahead of time that there's live music in the lobby every night, should you need to sit there with a crying baby so as to not wake anyone who might be sleeping on your floor? You're golden.

REQUEST ISOLATION If you worry about waking up the entire floor, it doesn't hurt to ask to be put in a room away from others. Or, at the very least, right by an elevator for a quick getaway.

THROW OUT THE RULES Perhaps the best advice was given to me after we were home: throw all rules out the window. I mean, a vacation's a vacation. What have you got to lose? Besides your mind. And having to pay for 'incidentals' on a trashed room. For real, though, if you aren't expecting best behavior, you aren't going to be disappointed. You might just have fun. Jump on the beds. Splash in the tub. Order room service mac and cheese and decide, after one bite, you're going to eat cookies instead.

Eat the cookies. Then check out early enough to make it home in time for naps.

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