How We Maintain Our Sanity On Road Trips
Traveling with kids. That phrase alone makes me just a little exhausted already haha. In the 3.5 years that we've had little ones, we've learned quite a bit about how to better travel with them! We drive a lot. I mean like.. A LOT. My side of the family lives 5 hours away from us and my husband's family lives about 8 hours. We are both self-employed so we have pretty flexible schedules which means we get to visit family a lot which is great! But.. Also a pain. Between visiting family, work trips, vacation road trips and our usual Sunday drive.. Our kids endure (more like mommy and daddy endure them but whatever..) long car rides a lot, averaging 1-2 a month! So I'm not calling myself any kind of expert but I have learned a few tricks and do's/don'ts along the way that maybe you could find helpful!
The first thing I do before a trip is pack up a little backpack her size full of a few things.
- several of her favorite books
- Coloring book and pencils (NOT CRAYONS! If they get forgotten or "lost" in a hot car they can melt and make a mess! How would I know?.... )
- A busy/quiet book or a magnet toy
- Water bottle
- A couple dolls or barbies
- Chat books book. (She loves looking at family photos and her baby photos!)
- a couple non-sugary snacks (don't get too excited.. I'm talking like goldfish, still not super healthy haha)
I think it's important to note that we've set a precedent from the beginning that she does not rule the car! We say, "yo, you're the kid-we're the adults so get used to it!" Okay we aren't really that mean but we decided it was important for our kids to learn patience and creativity while taking long trips and not expect every request they make to be met. So we start off the trip getting gas (obviously, I'm already giving you such valuable knowledge right now!) and get her one special treat and one special drink. (not special like laced with NyQuil although.. That's not a bad idea...) When those are gone, she can just have water and the snacks I packed.
I'm guessing the first thing that comes to mind with parents and car rides is entertainment. How in the heck are we going to keep these kids entertained and not screaming or fighting?! Of course the widely accepted solution is movies and/or iPads and tablets. Please know I am not here AT ALL to pass judgment or claim that "my way is right and better" because it's not! We just agreed before we became parents that we did not want our kids to be screen shocked all the time. This applies everywhere but even more so in the car. We decided to allow her (our 3 year old-our second born is 4months) 1 movie for every 4 hours we are traveling. So once that movie(s) is done, (whenever she chooses to watch it) she needs to do something else. This is where that special bag I packed comes in handy!
We actually don't even offer the movie until it's a last resort or if she's asks. She is usually pretty good at just sifting through her bag and finding something to do(partly due to us conditioning her that way). If she starts to get really restless and fussy and the movie isn't an option then we let her listen to either Disney music or the toddler dance station on pandora. She really likes this and a lot of times, it even puts her to sleep (HALLELUJAH WHEN THAT HAPPENS!) Of course there's always a few times where nothing is "working" and she just wants to be grumpy and impatient and whiney. This is usually an indicator that's she's tired but when do toddlers ever go to sleep when they need it AM I RIGHT? So in this case we have two options:
- try to talk it out with her and tell her stories or get her to tell us stories. We try to sing songs or talk about where we are going and what we'll be doing.
- and.. If that isn't working then we just have to ignore her until she either eventually falls asleep or gives in to doing something else.
Now the thing that makes car rides even harder in my opinion are the constant stops (unless you are purposely site seeing or taking your time). We try to only stop if we have to and definitely NEVER IF THEY ARE SLEEPING!!! Don't wanna screw up that rare blessing! There's been a couple times we were even running low on gas and seriously considered just risking it because we did not want to wake them up haha (needless to say, we did stop). Again, since we have sort of "trained" our toddler on what to expect, we usually only stop 1-2 times and mostly for a potty break or to get a meal. Of course since our new little addition, this is slightly more frequent because I'm nursing but we still try to limit stops (like I nurse right before we leave and even pack a bottle of warm water and formula in case we don't want to stop)
Overall we love traveling with our kids, they are really good in the car and one of my favorite things to do is take long car rides with my husband because we get to just talk almost the whole time! How often are you able to get that much time "uninterrupted" with your spouse?? One thing we've done in the past is ask each other 100 questions (http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/list-100-questions-ask-your-partner-date-nights.html) we like these! It's fun to sort of learn new things about each other and remember things we've already known! Well those are my simple tips for car rides with kids! Do you have some things you always do on car rides? Share with me! I'd love to hear! ><Holly><