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So I’m not trying to brag or anything, but…well I totally am. I’m shamelessly going to proclaim myself the queen of road trips, because everyone has gifts, and this may well be mine. My family ROCKS at road trips.
No, I’m totally just kidding. I’m currently writing this while draped over my crying one year old, making shushing sounds in his ear. So for sure I don’t have it all figured out.
But I will say that my kids have been road tripping since infancy. We drive two hour stretches very often, like monthly. And we’ve taken many, many 9+ hour trips, from when we had one tiny baby to today. Like, TODAY today.
Anyways, so I’m not an expert, but I am very experienced. Here’s a few tips, so you can
gain from my wisdom learn from my mistakes.
Phase One: prep within an inch of your life (your sanity may depend upon it). Bring so many more snacks than you ever dreamed (fruit and cheese for early on, then goldfish and pretzels, and chips and fruit snacks. You’ll want options). Bring drinks. They shouldn’t be alcoholic, though you’ll wish they were. Raid the dollar store, or more than one if you have time. Buy self-contained projects, toys, candy. Buy stickers, crayons, dry erase markers, magnets and a cookie sheet, window clings. Buy everything, because on hour nine you would pay ANYTHING to keep the kids from crying and/or screaming. $1 is the bargain of a lifetime. Also pack quarters and dollar bills, in case you need to
bribe them reward their good behavior.
Phase Two: Do nothing. For as long as possible. Look out the windows. Try not to entertain your kids in any way. You might (hopefully) be surprised. Our last road trip, this phase lasted an hour and a half. Valuable time when I wasn’t using up all my pre-prepped stuff.
Phase Three: move on to classic road trip games. 20 questions for the older kids, I Spy for the littles. Take turns counting (you say 1, they say 2, and so on) or saying the alphabet. Play Peekaboo. Sing all the songs.
Phase Four: bust out the most boring activity you brought. Probably a book or coloring. Draw it out.
Phase Five: time for a more exciting activity, like sticker mosaics, magnetic games, or a sticker book. Or maybe a new toy. Whatever you think will give your kids some hope on a dark, dark day.
Phase Six: start doling out the snacks. Puffs, Little Crunchies, and pouches for your solid-food-eating babies. Pretzels, raisins, and granola bars for the older kids.
Phase Seven: try to cycle back through the other steps. Pray it works. Cry a little when they aren’t looking. Regroup.
Phase Eight: electronics. Time to bring out the apps, the DVD players, and the downloaded shows. Now is not the time for high horses. It’s the time for survival.
Phase Nine: try and cycle through the tips. Again. You’re almost out of tricks, and you’re not. even.close.
Tip Ten: I hope you brought alllll the candy. And did not tell the children about it, or let them see it. This candy was to be secretly reserved for an emergency. Now it’s an emergency. Draw it out. Make them guess what the surprise is before you show them. Make them pick a hand. Spend ten minutes where they keep not guessing the right hand and they giggle (hopefully). When you finally produce the goods, dole out one piece at a time in exchange for answering trivia questions. Or as prizes for who can keep their eyes closed longest. Or whatever you can think of. This is your last hope, and you’ve got to make it last.
Or rather, I’VE got to make it last. For the next hour or so. We’re on hour ten of an eleven hour trip, and I’m fresh out of candy… And patience. Wish me luck.