Friday, September 11, 2015

My 7 Tips for Surviving Long Drives with Little Kids (7QT 09.11.15)

Today, we're on our way to Colorado! Woo to the Hoo!

While we're no Haley & Co., we're pretty experienced with the long-haul drive. We've reached the point where 8 hours in the car "isn't that far at all" and do it several times a year. We've done it at all ages from 4th trimester to newly potty trained. I've done it pregnant (but admittedly not 3rd trimester). Here are some of the things that help us get through it. Admittedly, nothing is going to stop the whining or the meltdowns (from kids or adults!) entirely, but this certainly helps:

1. Accept that it's going to take longer than Google Maps says. We add about 20 minutes for every 2 hours, plus an extra 15 minutes for lunch if we're stopping to eat. Today's drive will be 10 hours door to door. When that's the expectation, stopping feels like it's a low-pressure situation. We usually start early, but only start really, really, really early when we're doing crazy drives, like 12 hours of drive time in one day crazy, which we do en route to and from Arizona.

2. Speaking of stopping, we do it frequently. We plan on stopping every 2 to 2.5 hours, though we'll sometimes manage a 3+ hour stretch with napping kids after lunch (never wake a sleeping baby!). When we stop, we almost always do it at a gas station/truck stop/similar. We top off the tank, everyone potties (or gets a fresh diaper), we grab drinks, and most importantly, everyone who's mobile moves around, even if it is just laps around the convenience store. When the kids were still nursing, I'd nurse every stop (pretty much the only time I ever nurse in the car) while Charles filled up and walked Clare. Then we'd take turns hitting the restroom. We switch drivers every stop, too, so that we all stay fresh. 

3. We keep a potty chair in the trunk. Anyone who has a newly potty trained little one knows that you can take them to the bathroom as frequently as you'd like, but when they have to go they have to go. And if you've driven across Kansas as many times as we have, you know that places to stop aren't frequent. Solution: potty chair in the trunk. My dad has memories of tiny me going on the side of I-10 between Phoenix and Tucson with semis roaring past. We're just keeping the tradition alive!

4. Have food and a plan. We have plenty of food in the car with us. Clare knows that there will be fishy crackers and little boxes of raisins for the taking. Now, she's also figured that I have a secret stash of M&M-infused trail mix. Part of our goal is to minimize buying expensive and bad-quality convenience store food. Part of our goal is to placate whiny kids with more snacks than they normally get (see: fishy crackers). The first day of driving, we often take sandwiches and fruit for the car -- for economy of time (eager to get to our destination) and money ($25+ on fast food = yuck). Plus, when you're away from home, you eat out more, so having one more healthy lunch is just the mom thing to do. I also make sure to have pasta and sauce waiting for an easy dinner when we get home. It prevents a desperate pizza order we don't want to make after a long day, and usually having something semi-homemade tastes pretty good by then. 

5. Even more important, I have a beverage plan. Seriously. I've (finally!) got a beverage plan that keeps me going. When we started the long drives, I frequently found myself feeling badly dehydrated on the road, so I started working to combat that feeling. The problem is a tendency to drink too much caffeine (gotta keep going!) and not enough water (don't want to have to go to the bathroom!). When you accept that you're going to stop, you don't worry as much about beverage intake -- even pregnant. I start with coffee, because starting early requires coffee. I have water with me, and make sure to finish the bottle by the time we reach our final destination. Additionally, at our first stop, I get Gatorade, which I rarely drink, but helps a ton on long-haul drives. At lunch, I drink water. If we stop to eat, I'll drink water with my food and then get a Coke. Otherwise, it's just water. At our third stop, I play it by ear, but usually end up with soda or coffee. If we have a 4th or 5th stop, I continue alternating water and caffeine as best as I can. And let's be honest, by the time we reach our destination, a beer is sounding pretty dang good. ;-) 

6. Load up on in-car entertainment. Who hasn't had this experience? You're on the road. You've already listened to your awesome road trip playlist. Twice. You're starting to feel a little road weary, but you still have 6 hours of drive time to go. And those 6 hours are straight across I-70 through Kansas and eastern Colorado (read: boring), so staying focused is key. What I've found many times over is that the spoken word is much more engaging than music. I love to listen to audiobooks or podcasts on the road. And Clare has discovered Glory Stories, so I'm sure we'll be listening to those, too. In fact, I have two new CDs for her on today's drive, because you can only hear about Bl. Imelda's First Communion so many times. I mean, I love that that's the thing that she wants to fill her little head with while in the car, but . . . a girl can only take so much. (Side note: Dad, I'd like to formally apologize for the drive to San Diego listening to "The Count Counts a Party." I get it now. I do.) 

7. Accept that sleep might be unpredictable. I can't sleep in the car. Charles sometimes can. You might get a magic 3 hour nap from the kids. You might be singing and dancing like a lunatic in the 3rd row to keep kids awake 15 minutes before lunch (not that I have any personal experience with that one . . . and no, passing cars did not gawk and stare, thankyouverymuch). Don't worry about schedules and just roll with it. You can get schedules back when you get to your destination or when you get home. Kids are more flexible than we schedule-freaks give them credit for.

Happy(ish) Driving, y'all! 

(And it wouldn't be a September 11 without prayers for peace in a world still rocked by violence, all these years later.)

{Linking up with Kelly, because it's Friday, and I haven't in forever long.}

1 comment:

  1. Definitely saving this one for later! I'm impressed with your efforts but I figure it's a "you do what you gotta do" reality. :)


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