City Break in Tokyo: The Same But So Different

Before I had kids, and since, considerable time has been devoted to worrying about who I am in relation to who they are and what it all means and it was very liberating when I finally realized I am them and I am and we are us and all of it. So it’s fine.

Dave and I still have a lot of the same interests personally that we had before we had children. He golfs. I run. We make jokes and make lasagne and have long talks about the nature of the universe. We visit with our friends and watch crime dramas or silly sitcoms.

But one thing we do a lot less of is travel. It’s not a conscious choice, really. And it’s not that we don’t travel at all. But we don’t just drive cross country anymore with an atlas and some good tunes and wing it. Instead we have a cooler full of snacks, a map of all rest areas, and hotels with pools pre-booked.

We don’t settle in for long haul flights with an Ambien and some wine. It’s a carefully orchestrated dance of bed times and potty breaks and window clings and snack foods.

Every trip we take takes a little more planning, every destination we choose has the desires of a three year old in mind.

Every trip has so much more sweat. So sweaty. Sweat is everywhere.

We don’t just jaunt off for a city break with a purse and and a camera and hope for the best. We pack a backpack strategically analyze train schedules to choose the route with the least changes. And so we did when we headed to Tokyo this week.

Every single stage is an adventure. Waiting for our train Ves spins the stroller endlessly. Business travelers are not amused.
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When you are in the right mood, with the proper shoes, even a massive sweat fest like this can be so very fun. We were so cozy on the train while the rain came down outside. V entertained us with her songs and her never ending questions, O entertained us with her grin and scratchy giggle.IMG_1528

We were on trains, subways, and in taxis. We walked while holding children and umbrellas and all the gear you need for a weekend like this. Our backs started hurting the moment we decided on this trip the day before, but that’s what ibuprofen is for.IMG_1530 IMG_1531

Before we had kids our trips were full of whatever sights we felt like seeing, but now we travel with V in mind. Before we had kids we would not have spent two hours in a museum dedicated to Japan’s most famous cartoon, a superhero made of a bun with red bean paste filling who rips off parts of his face to feed people who need strength (let that soak in for a moment)…but here we are experiencing the Anpanman Museum.IMG_1532 IMG_1533 IMG_1536 IMG_1546

Sometimes you have to hand your man the infant and go wild with your toddler in a super weird museum. He makes it look easy doesn’t he?IMG_1551 IMG_1552 IMG_1553 IMG_1556

Before we had kids an adventure might be cut short by weather or cash flow or some kind of barrier with spikes on the top. At the Anpanman Museum all the fun ended when life-size Anpanman appeared and my child was the one sobbing with fear.



So we moved on from that and into the urban jungle. IMG_1561

Before we headed out into the evening air of Tokyo we took a rest in the hotel. Give mommy a tiny bottle of wine and hell yes you can jump on the bed. Like I care!
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We met up with Dave’s teammate, who all season has lived his life as Uncle Matt and is basically the best sport any human being could ever be when it comes to hanging out with a crew that includes two people who can’t be trusted with their own bowel movements. He shrugs off crying jags and laughs through tantrums. A good friend to have. Also, he really likes margaritas. IMG_1571 IMG_1572 IMG_1573

The thing about continuing to travel and maintain some adventure and perhaps a dash of spontaneity with kids is to accept your fate. Know that you won’t be able to see as many sights in a day, you won’t be staying up as late, and someone will fully lose their mind between 1 and infinity times per day depending on how many kids you have and whether or not you forgot their fairy wings at home. The sooner you come to peace with all that, the more fun you will have. And I must say, we were having some fun. And I can say that even though in the above photo our eldest is pantless because she peed on the floor of a Mexican restaurant. So obviously going with the flow is working for us somehow.

I’m not, it will probably not shock you to find out, a city person. I find them interesting because I have a staring people-watching habit and I like them for the fact that in the 36 hours we spent in Tokyo I ate Italian, Mexican and Indian food. But mostly I’m intimidated by the idea of crowds and cars and weird smells. Once in a while though, the lights and the hubbub will do me well. This was one of those times.IMG_1578

I call this one “Dinosaur Princess Has A Meltdown In Shinjuku.” See above paragraph about losing minds.IMG_1579

We found NYC Cupcakes in what I would call ‘Hipster Tokyo.’ Where coffee comes in tiny cups and children are looked upon with disdain.

All the coffee hipsters draw back in fear as a toddler runs into their pristine yet intentionally disheveled establishment. Before we had kids I would have had no way to show them how much I don’t care about their pretentious attitue, but now I just send in my minion to do it.IMG_1581 IMG_1582 IMG_1586

And just as before we had kids, these days you can sense when a trip is over. When we are all ready to catch the train back home. In the past it was after a night of too much wine and a day of 200 miles of walking. Today it was after not enough sleep and a day of so much baby-wearing. So the same. But totally different.IMG_1588 IMG_1589 IMG_1591

3 thoughts on “City Break in Tokyo: The Same But So Different

  1. We feel so much the same way – we know our travels are different now, but they aren’t any less enjoyable, just more tiring. And filled with more playgrounds. We are hoping to take the kids to Tokyo next year, I may need some advice!

  2. I can totally relate to the “accepting your fate” is the first step in having fun. And the meltdowns, you really do become somewhat immune to them. Malcolm and I were total wing it travellers before kids, but for our trip to Kimberley, BC there are two long Malcolm made lists on the fridge of to dos and to packs and the accommodations are booked. We’ve learned the hard way that planning is important now. Also get it that somehow despite the “sweat” these adventures are still fun. Good luck on your trip home!

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