Little Girl Eating

Summertime can often be filled with invitations for barbeques, parties and other gatherings with family and friends. While our schedule used to just revolve around work schedules, these days with our one-year old son we also have to take in to account his afternoon nap and early bedtime. Previously we swore we would never be those parents who revolve their lives around their children’s schedules - we would flex some and they would flex some. Yet when reality hit that our son would not sleep in the car or in anything other than a bed, we soon found ourselves declining many invitations to social events as they imposed on his sleep needs.



My favorite family gathering of the year has always been the 4th of July. We all meet at my cousin’s house around noon and are invited to stay to watch fireworks at night. Since my husband finally had the whole day off from work this year we decided we were definitely going- and for the whole time. With the event starting right at nap time and carrying on until way past bedtime, we knew the best way to get through the day without exhausting our son would be to bring along our travel trailer.

Weeks in advance I called up my cousin asking if we could park our trailer in their driveway and stay overnight. Though it seemed like a large request as it imposed on more of their time, they were happy to have the extra company and said they were glad that we asked. So on the morning of the 4th we packed up and headed out on the hour and a half drive to my cousin’s house. When we arrived we backed the trailer along side the house to keep from taking up all the parking space from other guests arriving shortly. We planned to put our son down for his nap right away before the event officially started. As any parent quickly realizes, our plans for the day are often different than the plans our kids have. Our son, who never sleeps in the car, decided to take an early nap (for only 20 minutes) in the truck on the drive over. Since our son disrupted his nap schedule we flexed to his needs and let him stay up for a couple hours before offering a nap again. So after jumping in the trailer to get his diaper changed and to grab him a snack, we got to visit with our family before the other guests arrived.

Since this family gathering is so large each year, it rarely gives me the chance for much one on one with anyone for too long. I loved getting the chance to visit with my cousin, his wife, and their three kids. Since all the other guests would be arriving any minute, we set to work helping set up tables, chairs, getting food prepped, all the while visiting and catching up on life together.

Once the rest of the group arrived, we started off with some good food and then on to our traditional games of volleyball. Since this is my favorite sport it is also my favorite part of the day. With lots of family around, many were glad to offer help to play with our son so we could play a few games before putting him down for a nap. As we took him into the trailer we turned on our trusty white noise machine and a fan to keep things cool on this hot summer day. We were so thankful for our trailer as we were able to separate our son from the noise at the gathering as people engaged in joyful conversation. The white noise machine does wonders at neutralizing sounds and keeping a peaceful environment for our son to rest. Our trailer also offered us plenty of space and privacy for diaper changes, and for our son to have some quiet play which helps him calm down. With the fridge right there with us we could pull out snacks for him and a bottle of milk, without worrying about how to keep things cold for the whole day.



Once he was up, our son loved joining back in on the fun of the gathering. As a new walker, he loved exploring the outdoor playset, interacting with family including his young cousins, and getting a little time to play with the volleyball all by himself. Of course he also loved getting to enjoy some of the great food that was available for snacking and during the potluck dinner while sitting around the table eating with Aunts, Uncles and cousins.



As we closed in on bedtime we let our son say goodnight and get settled in. Once he was down we had the opportunity to keep visiting, grab some dessert and then settle in our camp chairs to watch fireworks late into the night. Living so far away and with my husband often working on the 4th, we hadn’t been able to stay to watch the fireworks for many years. And now that we have a little one who won’t be able to stay up late enough to watch fireworks for many years, we gladly took advantage of this opportunity. Meanwhile our son slept nearby without be woken up once by the outside noise once again due to our trusty noise machine in the trailer. As the fireworks finished up, we said goodnight to my cousin and headed in to the trailer to get ready for bed ourselves.



In the morning we started to pack up the few things we needed to before we could hit the road. We knew we didn’t want to stay too long so we could make the drive back home in order to return before nap time. This still left us with plenty of time to share breakfast together with my cousin and his family and then head for home, well rested, well fed and filled with great memories.

This was my most memorable 4th of July to date. While I’ve always loved our large family get togethers, this year I got to know my cousin and his family more than ever before. Bringing our trailer helped us enjoy the day to the fullest and create even greater bonds with our family as we shared life together. I’m so thankful that this day can be remembered with joy and gladness for all of us. With our trailer offering the rest our son needed we were able to enjoy as much of the day together as possible without having to miss out on the fun. So blessed to have our travel trailer during these early years as our son grows up.

Emily Helgeson
Author: Emily Helgeson
Emily Helgeson lives with her husband and son in Eastern Washington. They enjoy adventuring together and are learning how to use their RV to continue this lifestyle with their growing family.

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