As a family we are lucky enough to take a few vacations during the year, all are within driving distance from our home, between two and five hours away. As a mom for nine years now I have survived many road trips with my children, approximately, okay exactly 72 road trips and approximately 500 hours trapped in my car with my children – those hours are not counting the hour long trips to the beach east of my home, or the times we get stuck in traffic going to the zoo, or heck going around the damn block.
We’ve had many road trips that were miserable, from me sticking my boob in my sons mouth to breast feed while we were driving (yes you read that correctly, while the car was moving) home from Maryland, to my son projectile vomiting in the car, to me being in mind-numbing pain from a tooth-ache, from just being stuck in hours and hours of traffic that I have developed a few tips, tricks, strategies to survive, and because well, drinking and driving is illegal.
I really do enjoy road trips, I love packing the car, getting all set up to read my novel, or the few hundred magazines I have lying around my house, navigating the open road, looking for familiar landmarks, making that one stop at our “usual” rest stop, and the non-stop catching up I do on the social media networks that I haunt but what I don’t like is getting interrupted a million and two times while I am trying to do all that stuff because my five year old wants to know why the sky is blue (literally) or the nine year old thought he saw a “red haired speckled raven that he firmly believes is SO not indigenous to this area” when in fact it was probably a f$%^&ing pigeon. Although my boys are seasoned road-trippers they are also inquisitive children who NEVER STOP TALKING. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t want to converse with my children, I do! I LOVE the sound of their voices but after three hours of solid talking, of breaking up fights, of playing “I spy”, the rhyme game and all the other stupid things I come up with to keep my children “entertained” I need some quiet time.
Some time to not hear their lovely voices to appreciate their lovely voices.
So, here I give to you my top five tricks, tips, strategies to surviving a road trip with children:
1. Snacks. Have enough snacks on hand in the “little cooler” so they can gorge themselves, but not too many that you have to take numerous bathroom breaks or they vomit – that will put a damper on everything.
2. Devices. Have every device you own on the ready. Make sure they are charged, I don’t care if you have to haul your 13 inch TV from 1980 in your car rigged up to some outlet attached to your engine, get some electronic device in that car to entertain the darn kids. The iPad, iTouch, iPhone okay anything that the ‘Great One’ developed will keep your children from whining perhaps for the entire road trip. #Winning.
3. Books. Ok, this is a tricky one, not everyone can read in a car, a lot of people get sick if they read in a moving vehicle so this one is really a gamble. If you think your children can handle it, make sure you have at least two books that are mandatory for them to read in the car, most likely they will get engrossed (especially the older kiddies) and will be reading for at least a good 20 minutes before boredom kicks in.
4. Music. Music makes the world go round. My children happen to love music if you can find a good station to rock out to, go for it, or if you’re as lucky as us, hook the buggers up with some iPods (ya see, the ‘Great One’ must of thought of parents as he was creating this awesomeness) and some headphones and it’s like you won the damn lottery.
5. The Silent Game. This is the one game that I pull out from my ass when the going gets tough or if all else fails. This is the strongest strategy a parent can use to combat a child from talking incessantly on a road trip, don’t take this game lightly, you MUST set the rules before you begin:
A. No talking.
B. If anyone talks they lose.
C. If you want to ask a question, you can’t there is no talking.
D. You can’t use any device, you can only read.
E. No fighting, mimicking, do not do a damn thing to bother your sibling or you both will be out.
F. You can only talk if you have to vomit or go to the bathroom.
G. Whomever wins gets $5.00 bucks for the game room – bribery works every time.
H. If you fall asleep you automatically get the $5.00 bucks for the game room – this almost a guarantee that they fall asleep. Could be a hit or miss, if you are traveling during the day you might not want them to sleep, for me, I could care less sleep five hours and stay up all night cause… we’re on VACATION!
If you don’t set out these rules before you play this game I will bet you a $10.00 vacation margarita that you will scream: “WE ARE PLAYING THE SILENT GAME OR WE WILL TURN THIS DAMN CAR AROUND! For us, this game lasted the entire road trip, okay I am lying it felt like the entire trip but we did get a solid two fricking hours of SILENCE – Golden!
I’ll take your thanks in advance or hugs when you return from vacation.