With warm weather slowly creeping in, I can feel the road calling my name. Between high gas prices and two small children, I know that hopping in the car and hitting the road is going to take a little more planning. Shorter road trips will likely be the ticket this summer, but any parent will tell you that even a few hours in a car with two children can lead to headaches. I have a plan, however, for ensuring that those headaches are few and far between. I have tried these tricks out on my own kids, and I am confident that a combination of them will result in fun, stress-free road trips.
1) The Snack Attack- Tiny tummies get hungry, and hungry tummies get cranky! Rather than frantically searching for the next gas station, and paying too much for sugar-filled junk food, I will be packing our own snacks in the mini-cooler. Cheese-flavored pretzels are always a big hit at my house, as is home-made trail mix, and grapes. Water bottles and juice boxes will help wash it all down.
2) Color On- I have my stack of coloring books and crayons ready to roll. I learned the hard way that markers are NOT a good idea, but crayons are less likely to wind up creating a mess. And if they do, they are much easier to clean up.
3) Tunes- While I can not spend an entire road trip listening to kiddy music, I am packing a couple cds of their favorites, for when the going gets rough. I’m also including some music that we can all agree on, like the Beatles (a family favorite).
4) Pull-Over- We are padding our travel time to include plenty of potty breaks. We have rest stops marked on our map that will let the kids run around for a few minutes before being strapped back in. Stretching their legs will help with the restlessness and might even tire them out enough for a nap. Which brings me to the next suggestion.
5) Foster Nap-time- We will be scheduling our trips, when possible, so that we are on the road during nap-time. We are also bringing the beloved blankies and/or other snuggle buddies. Some of that music that I mentioned above is of the melodic and soothing variety. Hopefully, we can create an environment in the car that leads to a little down time and a little zzzz catching!
6) Clean Up- The thing I forget most often is the clean-up supplies. Messes happen, especially when kids are involved. Armed with diaper wipes, a plastic bag for trash, and paper towels I can tackle almost any mess they can dish up.
7) Entertainment- We do not own a portable DVD player, so this tip did not apply to us, but if you do, a stack of kids movies can buy some much needed quiet time on the road, if all else fails.
8) Surprise!- Pack some inexpensive surprises. A new toy can help capture a small child’s interest in the car, at least for a short time! One suggestion that I really liked was the idea of using or purchasing a cookie sheet. It acts as a tray for coloring and playing. Add some cheap magnets, and you have an excellent car toy for your road trip!
9) Medicines- Throw some pain relievers and motion sickness pills in your bag. While you hopefully won’t need them on your road trip, if someone is sick, it can make everyone else in the car miserable.
10) Be Flexible- Sometimes, despite all of our best intentions, things do not go well. Don’t let setbacks, or crabby children, ruin your road trip. You would be amazed at how an upbeat attitude can overcome many obstacles on your road trip. And how quickly a sour attitude can take a small bump, and turn it into a hug catastrophe.
Remember, getting to your destination is half the fun! Arm yourself with a plan, and hit the road. Create some memories with your children that will last a life time.