I have 3 kids, and about 5 times a week I hear “I have no idea how you do everything you do”. To be honest, I dont either. But its not because we cant but because I just dont think about how we do everything we do. The older 2 are both in school (one in 1/2 day kindergarten and one in 2nd grade) and they both play soccer, I work from home, I’m planning (not by myself of course!) an international babywearing conference 2100 miles from where I sit and type this, I have a job outside the home, my husband works overtime many weeks and can often be gone a good portion of the week…but we do it.
This week, however, I did something I’ve never done…I took a roadtrip 2.5 hrs with the kids ALONE. Daddy had been gone for work and we werent sure when he would get to come home and so we decided to go spend a night at his hotel (yes I drove 2.5 hrs each way so the kids could basically spend about 3 hrs total with him…his grandma also lives in the area so we got to visit with family as well). Normally when going to visit I would always bring reinforcements (extra hands for kid wrangling, someone else to drive, etc). But I figured it would ONLY be 2.5 hours. Now you are thinking famous last words…right? Actually, I would have to say that at least for the trip up there…it was pretty great.
So we went…and I wanted to be prepared…and you should be too…even if you HAVE reinforcements. My kids didnt turn on the DVD player on the way up…didnt even ask!
- FEED THEM! – I dont know about your house, but my kids are ALWAYS happier when they are fed. Road trips to my kids mean getting to eat somewhere that we wouldnt normally do (i.e. fast food…usually McDonalds)
- ALLOW FOR EXTRA TIME – If you arent going somewhere where it doesnt matter when you arrive, please make sure to account for extra stops! Recently my mother and I went to go visit my Grandma who lives about 6 hours (even with a few quick stops) away…however, it seems that every stop turns into a 45 minute ordeal. So it took us NINE hours both ways.
- BE PREPARED – be ready for spills and accidents. Make sure you have an extra change of clothes on hand for everyone! Also I made up busy buckets for the boys. I had picked up some plastic shower caddys at walmart a few weeks back for $2 and figured I would use them eventually. I filled them with a notebook (the spiral bound kind you can get cheap when they run back to school sales), colored pencils (they dont melt in the heat!), books, some flash cards fromt he Target $1 section, goldfish, and a capri sun. I also had one stocked for me up front, wipes, extra treats for the kids, gum, candy for me, extra pacis, and those glow in the dark bracelets (yay Target $1 section).
- MAKE STOPS – they will probably need to go to the bathroom, for me I want to stop at a place with as clean of a restroom as possible…which usually means somewhere like Starbucks or Sonic because they usually have clean restrooms.
and possibly the most important…
- GO WITH THE FLOW – the kids arent used to being in the car for that long, they get bored. I didnt expect them to be asleep at 8:00 like normal and I let them have a little leeway.
Honestly they were really great…I almost wondered if they were my kids. I hope my tips help someone!
For tips on flying with kids, you can read this post by my friend Kristen.