Mommy Marathon: 7 Tips to Survive the Big School Field Trip

Midlife is a time when some people start settling into their easy chairs.

But not you, Mama.

Oh, the places you’ll go! Marathon field trips, distant tournaments – raising children doesn’t leave much down time.

No Room for Slackers

Take my recent trip to Washington, D.C. with my daughter’s fifth grade class for five days.

Just looking at the first day of the itinerary made me cringe: meet at the airport at 6:15 a.m., fly to Washington, tour the National Archives and Arlington National Cemetery, travel by bus to Williamsburg, Virginia, check in to hotel at 9 p.m.

Did I mention that I’m not a morning person? That fluctuating hormones sometimes make me unsteady? That I love people but need time alone?

I’m also the oldest mom in the class. Some parents 15 years younger than me gasped when they saw the schedule.

Strategies for the Road

But this was my fourth overnight school field trip. Last year we toured St. Augustine, Florida in a heat wave. So by now I’ve learned a few things. May these tips benefit you:

Wear Good Shoes: Comfort, not fashion is the name of the game. Prepare to walk miles. My men’s black, construction-worker Eccos are so ugly. But they saved me. Wear the wrong shoes and you will die. I have leg issues so my knee-high compression stockings were also a lifesaver.

Travel Light: Some of us are a bit attached to our purses. But you will carry that handbag for miles. So lighten it up. I also brought two nylon cloth bags to tote rain gear, use instead of my big purse, and distribute weight.

Carry Food: All that walking can make you ravenous and your child may need a boost too. Almonds, an energy bar and muffins stashed from breakfast got us through.

Expect Miracles: Commit and the universe really will support you. How else to explain Starbucks appearing in Williamsburg as my energy waned? That iced coffee was a gift from the Gods.

Connect: The school trip is a great opportunity to get to know other parents. Take advantage. Ask more experienced moms how they survived their teens’ high school years. Learn how the single mom manages. Talk up that dad you don’t know. The laughs and conversations will carry you.

• Take Time-Outs: Free time is as rare as gold on these trips and just as precious. Spend it with care. I took a hot bath one night instead of dining with other parents. The pack keeps moving but you can unplug.

• Let Go: Guess what? A forced march is more relaxing than arguing about homework and rushing to orthodontist appointments. We mommy managers loved following the tour guide around. No decisions to make! No cooking! No carpool! Sit back and enjoy the ride!

Silver Linings

So I really enjoyed the trip. Touring Washington and Williamsburg with my daughter was unforgettable. We even got to see President Obama board his helicopter at close range. And our picture appeared in The New York Times! Check out my Facebook Page to see it.

And who knew? Migraines, bad backs, shaky knees – younger parents have issues too. I ended up giving ibuprofen to an adult seven years my junior. These field trips aren’t that easy for anybody. As a result, completing one as an older mom provides a special sense of accomplishment.

So if you have such a trip scheduled, take heart. You can do more than you think you can, dear midlife mom.

And you will.

***

How about you? Been on any marathon trips lately? Did you have fun or are you still recovering? Please comment below!

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Photo Credit © Latsun/Dreamstime.com


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About Jennifer

A former journalist for The Wall Street Journal and Time, Jennifer is the award-winning author of Beyond One: Growing a Family and Getting a Life and pens the MidAge Mom blog.

She’s profiled exceptional women from the Middle East to Latin America. Widely published, her essays have been included in two anthologies.

Jennifer is also a frequent radio and TV guest. Full Bio

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In Beyond One, Jennifer chronicles her leap from one child to two, describing the enormous impact the second child has on a woman’s body, marriage, family life, friendships and work.

"Hull is the kind of woman many moms long to be friends with. . ." -The Cleveland Plain Dealer.

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The Wall Street Journal, Time, The Atlantic Monthly, CNN.com, MS., Parenting, Real Simple, Salon.com, The Los Angeles Times Magazine, Working Mother, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, American Way, Brain, Child, The Christian Science Monitor, and more.