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Summer is coming and so are the road trips. This year we are making the trip up north to visit the family that we both have in Michigan. It’s quite a drive from North Carolina, especially with three kids in tow. We’ve done this before with only two and we’ve learned a thing or two.
Here are 8 ways we will be surviving this summer roadtrip:
1. Snacks and Drinks
I’ve gotten slightly better at the snack thing over the years. It’s sometimes hard to strike a balance between what your kid will eat, the size of your cooler, and healthy snack choices. We mostly strive to keep the need for a cooler down and the sugar level low. Nobody wants to be trapped in a car for 8 hours with a kid all hopped up on the sugar. With three kids of different ages, tastes, and aversions, as well as my husband and I, we have to put some thought into things. One kid has a limited menu because he’s 1 and things need to be easy/safe/not messy. The middle child is prone to being picky and not finishing meals. My oldest has certain texture aversions and won’t eat things like apples because they “make his found feel weird”. If you’re using disposable water bottles, remember to bring a permanent marker(and keep it from the kids) to mark which bottle belongs to which kid. I can’t tell you how many times they’ve argued over accidentally drinking each others water. It’s a fight you can avoid very easily. The youngest is using sippy cups so we will just bring two that don’t leak and involve the least amount of parts. This is our current favorite. These are a tried and true option.
Here’s a list of my go to snacks:
- Bananas(easy to grab each morning at the hotel or any gas station)
- Crackers( goldfish, cheez-its, graham crackers)
- Cheese sticks
- Individual peanut butter cups
- Baby carrots
- Trail mix(usually keep in cooler in case there are parts that can melt)
- Tuna snacks
- Squeezable apple sauce
Whether you’ve got paper copies, eBooks, or audio books, you can’t leave home without them. We will have a mixture on our trip. We’ve got lots of paper copies of various books. I’ll have one container that the kids will have access to, in the car, just filled with these. There are limits though.
My oldest has a Kindle ereader. We got the one without special offers, but have parental controls on it to restrict him to Kindle <a href="http://Amazon FreeTime Unlimited Free Trial” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Freetime. He can download a ton of kid-friendly books there and even keep track of how many books and how long he’s been reading. I can also add ebooks from Amazon’s Prime Reading and <a href="http://Kindle Unlimited Membership Plans” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Kindle Unlimited, as well as eBook offerings from our local library. Click <a href="http://Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>here for a free trial to Amazon Prime. Not only do you get free shipping on loads of items, but you’ll get access to loads of other stuff as well. I’ll be doing a mixture since all of these things have limits to how many you can check out at once.
And finally there are audio books. We will have a few books on our phones to play in the car(mostly Harry Potter). I’ll also have a ton of this podcast the kids and I found that they LOVE! I’ve been trying to use it sparingly since the trip will be so long. It’s called The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian. I get nothing for linking to that. It’s just awesome. The guy is really great at story telling and the segments are short. He also discusses elements of the story before and after and has various ways that kids can participate. No spoilers! We are still finishing the first season of episodes and it’s just wonderful. I’m hoping to find a couple more podcasts the kids might be interested in before we leave.
3. Drawing Materials
Do not leave home without things to draw and write with, but if you care about yourself or your car at all DO NOT BRING CRAYONS. They will inevitably be left in a hot car and melt somewhere. Nobody likes finding melted anything in the car.
We try to stick to pencils and markers. Pens seems to come apart and end up all over the kids and seats. I’ve become a marker snob through parenting. We prefer the <a href="http://Crayola 12 Ct Ultra-Clean Washable Markers” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Crayola Ultra-Clean Washable Markers. Crayola does make Ultra-Clean Crayons too, but crayons melt and I don’t want to mess with any of that.
I’ll probably only pack one coloring book. My kids are not too big into coloring books. They are, however, very much into drawing and tracing. I’ll pack a sketch pad, tracing paper, and throw in some origami paper for each of the older boys.
Another great option are tablet drawing boards. There are various sizes and brands. We have this one that my son purchased with his own money. They can’t keep their creations, but it’s less supplies and less mess. Our pediatric dentist uses these during the kids dental visits.
Music is great for changing the mood of your trip. It also provides great learning opportunities. Both my older boys originally had iPod Nanos. They don’t make them anymore and, unfortunately, my oldest lost his to a laundry accident at a relatives house. We tried to dry that sucker out and get it working again, but it never recovered. My middle child still has his though and we’ve outfitted him with a really good pair of headphones made just for kids. We went through a few pairs before finding something sturdy enough for his 6 year old self. They have noise reduction and the cord is nylon braided and has done well for at least these last 6 months of abuse.
My husband is lucky enough to still be grandfathered into an unlimited data account and that comes in handy using Spotify. It’s easy to play different soundtracks on the go. It’s SUPER helpful when your baby decides he hates car rides and you’re hoping to lull him into sleep.
5. DVD Player
Normally, I don’t like to push too much screen time. I didn’t even mean to purchase a vehicle that had a DVD player. We never had much use for it.
I’m sorry for how wrong I was.
We don’t use it often, but the DVD player in our Odyssey is pretty awesome. It came with two sets of headphones. I don’t mind kids movies, but if we don’t have to participate in their movie while driving…my goodness we might get to have an adult conversation. *Gasp* I might get to talk to my husband sometime on this trip. We will probably still use this as a last resort and not have them watching movies for 8 straight hours, but it is definitely nice to have. I know loads of people who use their tablets(mine is too hold and is depleted of storage) or stand alone DVD players(I won’t be linking to any because I’ve never used them myself).
6. Baby Boredom and Toys
My youngest isn’t going to benefit from too much of the stuff listed above. He’s one. He just wants to run and not be confined. He will still be rear facing. Even if I wanted him watching movies, he wouldn’t be able to see them anyways.
For him, I will be trying to do a few different things and change it up mid trip. He doesn’t hate car rides as much as my oldest did, but this will be the longest trip he’s ever taken. I’m expecting the worst, but hoping for the best.
Starting this month, I will remove some of his smaller, car-friendly toys. That way he hasn’t seen them for a bit. Then I’m going to wrap them up like presents. I did this with my oldest when he was around 2 or 3 and it worked out really well. It would take him awhile to open it and then he got to play with it when he was done.
I’ll pack a few board books as well, but will have to watch him more carefully to make sure he doesn’t just try to eat them. We have one fabric book with a teether thing on the end.
I’ll also be making him a quick, very much not fancy, busy book. Something with little flaps, bright colors, a zipper, and maybe some snaps.
Playing games in the car can be a great way to pass the time. We will have a couple options at our disposal.
Here’s what we are gonna have:
- Farkle- We will bring dice, a tupperware container for shaking, a paper, and pen.
- Printable- Bingo, scavenger hunts, word searches
- Cards- You can play slower paced games in the car, like Go-Fish.
- Pen and Paper- Hangman and Tic-Tac Toe don’t require anything else. We also will each take turns drawing on the same piece until we usually create one giant weird creature.
- If all else fails, we resort to the roadkill game. Whoever spots the roadkill first gets a point. I usually have an unfair advantage at the front of the vehicle.
8. Health Essentials
My kids are accident and illness prone. Someone is always bruised, bleeding, or not feeling well. I think they call it “having kids”. I should probably get that looked at.
Anyways, I always keep my vehicle stocked will a first aid kit(<a href="http://Swiss Safe 2-in-1 First Aid Kit (120 Piece) + Bonus 32-Piece Mini First Aid Kit: Compact, Lightweight for Emergencies at Home, Outdoors, Car, Camping, Workplace, Hiking & Survival” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>this is mine), wipes, diapers(good for wiping wet slides and catching poop), plastic grocery bags, and these barf bags. If I can avoid cleaning vomit from anything, I will. I also keep a healthy amount of sunscreen(my current fave) and hand sanitizer wipes around.
So that’s my survival list. It seems like a lot when you type it out, but I never pack light when the kids are concerned. This is why I drive a mom van *sobs quietly*.
As always, comment below with your road trip essentials. Did I miss something that might make my trip better?
Give me all your parental wisdom!