On our recent trip to Solvang, California we chose to drive. It’s about 5 hours from our house and our youngest is not known for his love of car rides. But, after our 3 hour drive to Lake Tahoe, I thought it was worth a try. On our way to Solvang we stopped at about the halfway point on the way there to eat and stretch our legs. It got him out of the car long enough that he didn’t fight me too bad when it came time to go back in. On the way home we only stopped for a quick snack and getting him back into his seat was a battle. We frequently make 1-2 hour drives to go on little adventures or to visit family so I want to share a few tips that we’ve found to help us with the kids in the car.
Sleep + Quiet
If you are lucky, your child drifts off to sleep during every car ride. If you are even luckier and have a toddler like mine, he does anything but sleep. We make it a point to travel during nap time so that he will be more likely to sleep in the car instead of scream. This way we know we will usually get a good hour or two of peaceful driving time. We bring all the necessary naptime essentials; his wubbanub (and a spare), blanket, and kitty. As soon as we get in the car we put on some Infected Mushroom or any other music that has a more continuous beat and he usually drifts off into lalaland. Aiden doesn’t always nap in the car, but he’s not really a problem since he’s 10 years old.
Food + Drink
I like to make sure that both boys have had a full meal before any lengthly car trips so that A) Søren sleeps easier, and B) I don’t hear whining about, “Mom, I’m hungry!”. I also pack snacks and their water bottles for longer car rides in case we do need to stop. When Søren was younger I would nurse and burp him before we drove anywhere so that if he started screaming I knew it wasn’t because he was hungry. On this note, a bathroom break and a diaper change are an absolute must before any long car ride.
Each of the kids have their own backpack that they bring with them on trips. Inside Søren’s we keep a few books, a few toys, etc. We try to have at least one favorite, but a few other things that he doesn’t play with or read all the time just to give him something new to look at. For Christmas the boys both got miniature doodle pads and they like to play with them in the car or during long waits at a restaurant. Another favorite are blocks by tegu. They are magnetic and smaller so they are not as easily dropped and some sets come in a handy dandy travel case. Sometimes we even throw in a non-toy-toy (read: toy that is not a toy but can be in case of emergency). In order of entertaining things we throw at the toddler, we try to go in the order of: toys, non-toy-toys, wallets, and lastly ipads. We throw the tablet/iPad at the kids as a very last resort. Towards the end of our drive to Solvang we hit some traffic and bought ourselves an extra hour of quiet by giving Søren a tablet to play with.
I hope that my tips will help you out with any longer car rides you may take soon. Please feel free to share any that have worked for you in the comments, I’m always open to new ideas about how to keep our car rides more sane. Happy travels!