We just made a road trip to Florida to visit my family: 1,000 miles each way, with a four year-old and a one year-old, neither of whom likes to nap in the car. Right after we got back, I read Amelia’s account of her longer road trip, with twice as many kids, no air conditioning, and no CD or DVDs. So yeah, I’m a wimp. But whatever. We lived to tell the tale, and here are some of the things that helped:
DVD player and DVDs. Perhaps some parents the electronic babysitter, but I can’t get over this fantasy that car travel should be enjoyable and relaxing for me. I like to read and listen to books on CD and do cross-stitch. Singing “Wheels on the Bus” and counting cows and playing educational games or whatnot . . . for fifteen hours . . . just doesn’t fit the bill.* So enter this:
Girl 1 watched it over and over and over. The song selection is slightly questionable. Girl 1 now goes around singing “We are on the prowl tonight/ like an alley cat./ Looking for some new delight / like an alley cat.” But like I said, we made it there and back with sanity mostly intact, so I’m overlooking it.
* I did read them a few books. I may even have sung “Where Is Thumbkin.”
Books on CD from the library. Pat and I have listened to a lot of John Grisham. A lot of his older books are great (The Firm, Pelican Brief, The Client, The Rainmaker, The Street Lawyer). The newer ones are hit (The Litigators) or miss (The Associate, The Broker, The Confession). But they all make the time pass more quickly.
Grisham probably wouldn’t work if you have older kids. His books have some bad language and adult subject matter. But we turned the volume all the way to the front speakers in the minivan, and the girls paid no attention. Once they’re a bit older hopefully we can find some audio books we all enjoy.
Chick-Fil-A. Good food (for a fast food restaurant), clean bathrooms, friendly service, and a playground for the kids to run around in. Perfect. We select our route to FL based on the number of Chick Fil A’s we’ll pass. The only downside (upside?) is that they are closed on Sunday.
Van organization. Okay, this is kind of a joke. You can look on Pinterest and find all sorts of ideas like organizing car toys using bungee cords and little bins whatnot. You can also put together cute little packages of snacks and toys for your kids to open each hour. Me? I used three cardboard diaper boxes. One was for books, DVDs, CDs, and miscellaneous “dry goods.” Another was for snacks. The third one was for trash. It worked.
Driving Time Equity. I lost my cool with the girls about two hours into the trip. They had been whining for approximately 1 hour, 59 minutes. Then Girl 2 had some business that required me to dig through our biggest suitcase, in the back of the van, on the side of the interstate, with 18-wheelers zooming past. (See supra #4 re: my van organizing skillz.) Pat calmly reflected, “You know . . . I usually do most of the driving on road trips because I always thought it was the hardest job . . . but maybe you should take the wheel.” I did. I don’t particularly care for driving, but at this point in our family life, it’s a lot less stressful than playing stewardess/zookeeper in the middle row.
I’m excited to finally join up again with Hallie of Moxie Wife, for her Five Favorites link up. Thanks Hallie!