Okay, now that we're all caught up, let's get to it.
7 Tips for your Road Trip with Kids!
We're not in 1974 anymore, Toto. That means we have to buckle seat belts and be sitting upright and have approved car seats. That means no blanket forts or counting the stars out the rear window. That means they're going to need diversions. They're going to need entertainment. If YOU do not provide it, THEY will provide it, generally via games that involve pinching and/or slapping each other and arguing about what the definition of the word "is" is. Unless the vision of this appeals to you, be ready to purchase electronics.
Yes, my first tip is "buy stuff". And you know how I am about spending money (that I am allergic to it mostly because I don't have any? Yeah, that.), but desperate times call for desperate measures, folks. Plus, if you avail yourself of your internet resources (read: Ebay.com and Amazon.com ) you can find totally usable things for VERY reasonable prices. Like $30 reasonable. Yes, my daughters bought an iPod mini off of Ebay for $30- splitting the cost and each spending just $15 of their Christmas money! I did the same for the all important travel DVD player. Especially if your trip is anywhere close to the 35 hours of driving it took for us to get across the country, I highly recommend giving in to the one-eyed beast, even if you keep it hidden "for emergencies".
I've heard about those that fancy phones have GPS these days...but I've also heard that cell phone coverage in the mountains of Colorado can get pretty iffy. Take a chance if you're brave, but I wouldn't suggest it. If you can swing it, have a dedicated GPS. You won't regret it.
I have a wonderful friend back on California who thought of this next tip. Well, she actually did it. I'm the one who's making it into a tip. And here it is: pack a bag of secret kiddy treats. Wrap them if you have time. Every day (or hour, depending on your patience and the length of your ramble) present a new little treat to your brood. A new toy or book, no matter how small or silly, is always so exciting to children that a parent will surely get at least 45 minutes of peace. So many little things like matchbox cars, mad-lib books, miniature notebooks, special favorite candy bars, are so cheap yet so treasured by children. You can also use them as a bargaining chip if things start getting out of hand- which they WON'T because you will also be following tip number four....
Don't be afraid to stop the car. Not "STOP THE CAR!" in that scary you-better-quit-fighting way, but "hey, let's stop the car and go to the bathroom and stretch our legs and enjoy this awesome rest stop in Iowa." and "isn't it neat how the trees here are so different from the trees at our house?" and "watch out for that pile of dog poop!" Really try to make the trip itself part of the adventure.
The welcome centers at the state lines are GREAT for this sort of thing. Your older kids will love getting the free fliers that talk about the history and geography of the region and your younger kids will love almost getting hit by other cars. Being too time oriented will ruin the experience for all of you and will have you arriving at your destination in an exhausted puddle of frustration and sweat.
Whether your trip is multi-day or multi-hour, sometimes moving your children to new seats can make them feel like they're in a whole new car. Which could make YOU feel like you're in a whole new car. Sweet! So if so and so is getting too fussy or feeling uncomfortable or bickering with that other so and so, move them to the other side of the vehicle for the next leg of the trip. Especially if you know that something interesting is coming up on one side of the car, be sure that the child who will appreciate it most is able to see out the closest window. They will feel so grateful that you thought of them and you will feel so proud when their eyes light up and whatever silly/wonderful/interesting/miraculous sight it is that you knew they would appreciate.
Above all, treasure it. Treasure this uninterrupted, different, interesting adventure as a family. Take turns telling silly jokes. Start verses to silly songs and let your toddler finish them. Take lots of pictures. Marvel at the wonderful, diverse country we live in. Have your older kids take notes and draw pictures to create a travel journal of sorts. Have them read historical fiction books set in the states you're driving through. Let them learn to use the key card in the hotel room door and which buttons to press to make the elevator work. Who knows...the road-trip itself could turn out to be the best part of your vacation.
Happy summer, everyone. Enjoy this beautiful country of ours!
|today's Quick Takes are hosted by Hallie at Betty Beguiles because Jen has had her BABY!!!|