We drove to California a little while ago. Driving in the car for longer than two hours can be a scary experience for any parent. It’s something I generally don’t attempt by myself. Actually, I don’t usually attempt car trips longer than an hour by just myself and my kiddos. It just gets too hazardous. I become the woman we’ve all seen – driving the car with my nose while one hand is taking something away from a child and the other hand is calming the baby. It’s not a very safe, or sane, way to operate a vehicle. Just sayin’.
Anyway, my kids were fantastic on this drive. And I think I’ve figured out why. We started earlier, had snacks and entertainment options for the kids, and we tried to include some interactive activities while we were driving.
We started out earlier in the morning, with snacks and drinks all at the ready. We had our Leap Pads, coloring books, reading books, etc., ready to go. When the kids started getting restless, we’d rotate the items around. We’d usually rotate items after 20 minutes. It kept the items new and entertaining and helped the kids survive the long drive better.
Also, every two rotations or so, I send out a round of treats or snacks. I’d love to say these snacks were healthy, but they weren’t. My favorite in the car snacks are licorice sticks, popcorn, cereal treats, and M & M’s. These treats don’t seem to cause as much mess in my car as other treats.
And we invented a song. The song goes along with an old song from Sesame Street – “It’s a long, hard climb.” I’ve attached a video of their song. The words are:
“It’s a long hard drive, but we’re going to get there. It’s a long hard drive, but we’re going to get there.
It’s a long hard drive, but we’re going to get there. We’re headin’ to the settin’ sun.”
We sang that song over and over again on the drive. But that made it all the more fun to be on the trip. We also played “I spy” together. We played it so that turns just rotate through family members, not by who guesses the item first. During part of the drive, when we were going through the desert, the clues degenerated to “tall, brown thing,” which made guessing what was brown and tall among a lot of tall, brown things rather difficult.
Like I said earlier, my kids did great. Except for one thing, potty breaks. One thing, which I’ve noticed about trips in the car, is that one of my children will invariably need to use the rest room five minutes after we’ve passed through the most recent city. It doesn’t matter if we had stopped in said city. One of my children will need to use the rest room; again, after we’ve passed the last exit for the city we just stopped in.
But factoring in the random potty stops, we made good time and we had a good time on the road.
What are your best tricks for driving in the car with young ones?