Hitting the open road with just the five of us… it might be my favorite kind of family time. Sure, there are melt downs, endless potty stops, kids who need to get their wiggles out with lots of “when will we be there” questions from Scarlett… but I still love it. I love being trapped in one place with all five of us. There is a wonderful sense of safety and peace that I feel when we are all in one spot together. Even if that spot is 5,000 moving lbs. of steel.
Nothing beats the car games with Scarlett and long talks with Scott. Then there’s the blasting of music and car dancing, which is always a hit with all passengers. I love going to new places and introducing our kids to new adventures… And I really hate flying with my kids. SO… car trips are our jam.
It took a few hellish journeys for me to master the road-tripping handbook with three kids. When we just had Scarlett, movies and snacks were all she needed. The boys… they make road trips a completely different beast. A beast that requires more activities, distractions and a beast that has a lot more energy. Ames gets especially worked up about three hours into the drive. So about two hours in, I break out the Mary Poppins bag…..
The Mary Poppins bag is full of goodies. Praise above for the dollar section at target and the dollar store!!! They are my saving graces for travel goodies. They have great selection that’s a steal of a deal and I don’t mind if it ends up trashed or destroyed.
Here’s how it works for us… I pick a new activity every hour... either a prize from the bag, a music session or movie (which obviously lasts more than an hour). Before leaving a stock up on these little prizes which are selected by the kids interests (this may seem like a lot of work but it’s a lot less work than six hours of car screaming). For instance… I know Scarlett loves crafts and imaginary play, so the drawing board and stick on doll play (not in the dollar section but costs around $5.00) provides on and off hours of play for her. That's right, I said HOURS! Wooop woooop! WORTH IT. I know that Ames loves balls and balloons. So these string balls that you blow up and bounce off of your hand are perfect for him. He may drop it and make me turn to pick it back up for him while pointing and saying "I wan, I wan" over and over... but still, better than car screaming! I know Welles loves Ken dolls and music toys. So I bring the dolls and toys that make noise, easy to add to the dollar store toys. All three love little activities that take concentration… So the string through dinos and color packages are awesome. All under three dollars! Amazing, what about $25 can do to make eight hours of driving fun with kids.
Then I throw in some extra things to eat up the time. They get ONE activity an hour so I buy accordingly. This kind of stuff makes me feel like such an “on the ball” kind of mom! #winning BUT I must say, it took me a lot of #fails before I realized that the only way to keep making these fun "road trip memories" and not go INSANE, was to come up with some sort of system.
Of course we pack the iPad for backup but rarely need to use it. Sometimes we give it to Scarlett to play games on while the boys nap to assure silence. We also do a movie or two depending on the distance. Always something with lots of music to keep the boys happy.
Oh and the bag of snacks... DUH. I try to choose their favorite snacks plus a couple of new things to make it exciting. Half way through the drive, we try and do a pit stop somewhere different from places we can eat back at home. For our kids, new things = more exciting and makes for happier travelers.
Chaos is always part of the trip. It's part of our every day so why wouldn't it be? But I'm glad that I'm starting to learn how to better manage that chaos and embrace the smashed chips (among much worse smeared into the floor) and loud squeals in the car. I love getting out of the daily grind this wild bunch of ours.
Now let me tell you about this awesome new car seat that we got for Welles… It’s got to be one of the sturdiest and safest ones out there. Individuals with Down syndrome can have issues with their necks stability. The tissue between joints that connects one bone to another is typically stretchier than normal. This can cause too much motion and can be dangerous for their necks. Soooo, a good car seat is very important. This has a great place for his head to fit and makes me more comfortable in the case of an accident. The Cybex car seat system comes with a chip thingy that you plug into your car which integrates important safety technology into the chest clip of the car seat to alert when unsafe situations arise. The alerts are provided through a vehicle receiver and the caregiver's smartphone to help prevent the rising number of infant hot car deaths and ensure safety for children in a range of additional situations. So pretty amazing technology for any kid, which got me thinking, we probably need to upgrade Ames’ seat too! Just a few more risks with Welles so we bit the bullet…. But I'll be ordering one for Ames very soon. We've had a couple minor accidents this last year which has me in the mode for safer car situations!
This minivan is filled with memories. Some of me yelling for everyone to "BE QUIET!" and lots with family dance parties and giggles. I will always cherish our times being stuffed into this little space together.
Thank you to Cybex for kindly sponsoring this post. All opinions are 100% honest & completely my own.