I was having a difficult time thinking of something to blog about this morning because quite frankly I'm exhausted. The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of activity, the kids were on spring break last week so I've had to find things to entertain them, I hosted Bunco last Friday, and the past two weekends we have traveled to WV.
We actually spend quite a bit of time on the road, at least once a month we travel to WV for hubby's Army Reserve drill weekend, on a good day the trip can take four hours and on a bad day, well, a looonnng time. Yesterday the drive went smooth but it still leaves me a bit wore out and the old brain a little fried so I got to thinking about what to blog about and thought well, the Artfire Cafemom Team does consist of moms and I'm sure other readers are moms and they all probably have to travel with their kids so why not a post about how to entertain and keep the kids happy while on long car trips? That was quite the run-on sentence, told you my brain was fried, lol.
Traveling with kids can be a stressful affair but not so bad if you plan in advance. Here's my list of the top ten best things you can do to prepare for the road ahead.
1. Pack lots of snacks and drinks if you are going to be on the road awhile. They're going to get hungry and thirsty and having something available to give them is going to save time and money on unneccessary stops but...
2. Plan to stop at least every couple of hours for bathroom breaks and a chance to stretch legs. If you've been on the road for awhile and still have a good ways to go it's a good idea to find a nice rest area with some open space and let the kids get out and run. Maybe pack a couple of play balls and let them kick and throw them around.
3. Good children's music. Can't take another round of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star or Mary Had a Little Lamb? The music doesn't have to be geared just towards kids. One of my kids favorite cds (ages 8 & almost 5) is one I made up of music that I enjoy too. Some of their faves are Sixteen Tons, Leroy Brown, My Boyfriend's Back, Don't Worry Be Happy, and Black Horse and the Cherry Tree. Not so bad and something I can sing my heart out along with them.
4. But sometimes all you want is some peace and quiet. Some may disagree but portable devices may be the greatest invention ever. Whether it's a dvd player, mp3 player, gamesystem or whatever, pack plenty of games and movies and the kids can be entertained for a couple of hours. Just DON'T FORGET THE HEADPHONES or you can kiss the peace and quiet you were so desperately seeking goodbye.
5. Pack a special bag for each child consisting of favorite toys, crayons, coloring books, stickers, etc... If you plan on having coloring or drawing pages try to pack a couple of lap desks or clipboards so they will have something sturdy to put their artwork on.
6. Spring for something new. After a bit and they are bored with the above have another bag consisting of all new items. You can go to your local dollar store and pick up a few things for a little bit of nothing and the newness of the items will keep them entertained for a bit.
7. Pack extra blankets or pillows. I often forget to pack blankets in the car and kick myself for forgetting them because inevitabley one child is hot, the other is cold and the battle of the air conditioning or heat begins. Get those blankets!
8. Pack hand sanitizers, wipes, tissues, trash bags and any other item you can think of that will help keep the kids and vehicle clean. It will make your life much easier and the stress of something spilled a lot less. While I'm on that train of thought an extra set of clothes in an easily accessible area is always a great idea.
9. Print out or come up with simple games to play in the car. Some great resources I have found are Mom's Mini Van and Car Travel Games.
10. DO NOT FORGET YOUR CHILD'S FAVORITE SLEEPYTIME STUFFED ANIMAL/BLANKET!!! If your 4 y.o. needs her dream hippo at night to keep the nightmares away or your 8 y.o. needs his Smokey the Bear to help him sleep, do not, I repeat, do not forget them at home or worse yet leave them behind at wherever your final destination is. Trust me, been there, done that and it was not a good time.
So there's my list of tips for traveling with kids. Please comment with any of your own because I'm sure there are plenty I missed.