Having just returned from two solo road trips, totaling seventeen hours in the car, with my kids, I now consider myself somewhat of an expert on the subject of surviving a long car trip with them.
My last trip could have been a scene from the movie Steve Martin starred in, which I believe was titled Parenthood, but would have more appropriately been titled Parenting Hell. I drove by myself in pouring down rain, with bumper to bumper traffic accompanied by a non-stop whining five year old and an eight year old who wanted to play his brand-spanking new PaperJamz guitar, courtesy of a friend who I thought was my best friend, but I’ve now decided was clearly jealous of me and wanted to bring my mental health down a notch. Just kidding, Jen!
Coming off that trip, I realized with loud moaning that I had three more road trips with my two precious children left to endure this summer. OMG! Twenty-nine hours more hours of the stress I had just gone through left me feeling as if I might have a panic attack. One to take charge, and not one who wants any more wrinkles than I already have, I decided to ask around and compile a list of ten surefire ways to make my road trip the most pleasant it could possibly be.
I went straight to the experts—other moms who’ve been there and figure out how to survive. And the following is:
Ten Rules to Beat the Odds and Have a
Fantastic Road Trip With Your Kids
- Establish the car rules BEFORE you get in the car. In other words tell the kiddos upfront exactly how long the car ride will be and give them two ‘free’ times they can ask you this infamous question again without penalty. If they ask more than twice, they must go straight to jail, just like in Monopoly, except jail in the car consist of losing a special road trip snack.
- This leads nicely to rule number two. Pack special road trips snacks. Make sure they aren’t messy, but also make sure they are enticing and can be used to warn kids they are about to go to jail and forfeit they’re special snack. Believe it or not, my kids both LOVE beef jerky, so this is a great special snack incentive.
- Do not make the mistake of falling for the old “I’m so thirsty I could die,” pleas. Set the ground rules. No drink for the first hour then ¼ of the drink each subsequent hour. Think I’m kidding? I’m not! This is road trip warfare. You wanna win or do you want your kids to drive you to the madhouse and cause you to have to stop every hour for a potty break thereby extending your trip for a not-so-good hour.
- Have movie time. I am not a proponent of just buckling the kids in and letting their minds go all mushy just so you don’t have to hear them fight and complain in the car, but if you are taking a long road, one little itty bitty movie is not going to keep junior from being accepted into the gifted program. Pop that sucker in and enjoy your two hours of bliss courtesy of Scooby Doo.
- On to rule number five. If you are not a huge Scooby Doo fan, don’t forget headphones for your kids, so you can enjoy your music while they enjoy their movie.
- Pack books for your kids thay can read and pack a Leapster for your kids that can’t. That program rocks the car! My youngest let Leapster read to him for a good hour on our last trip, after I asked around and learned this bit of wisdom.
- Pack some good old fashion family car games. Some quick suggestions are: Auto Bingo. Regal Games makes a really nice small one. Another suggestion is U.S.A. License Plate Game. Umm…need I say more? It can take the whole trip to complete this game! For the older kids they can do Dell Puzzle Lovers crosswords.
- I’m also not a huge proponent of letting your kids go all numb from the world of technology, but I’m not stupid either. Pack their DS handhelds, their IPod touches, and their Nooks and Kindles.
- Divide out the time of what they can do and for how long BEFORE you get in the car. You will avoid fights, tears, and a migraine for you.
- Pack yourself a book if you are not the one driving. If all else fails, AND you are in the passenger seat, you can put on your headphones, read your book and pretend you aren’t in the car with your kids. Ha-ha! Just joking of course.
Good luck! May your summer road trips be bliss. Also, if you know any sure ways to make road trips great with kids feel free to share today. Don’t be greedy with your greatness!
Have a fabulous day!
Julie Johnstone, The Marchioness of Mayhem