Friday, July 1, 2011

Road Trips

Road trips are a quintessential part of summer. Pack all your people and belongings in a vehicle that's really too small to hold it all then drive for hours! Our family has logged plenty of miles - having newborn babies, potty training tykes, or wiggly preschoolers has not deterred us one bit. We've learned a few tips and tricks to make this easier on Mom & Dad, and more enjoyable for the young 'uns. I thought I'd share them here:

Remember to pack:
-plastic bags, bring plenty. Ziplocs, bread bags, WalMart shopping'll likely find a use for any and all of these! They're great small toys, snacks, wet clothes, trash and more.
-baby wipes & paper towels - little people get sticky & dirty!
-Band aids/first aid kit
-cookie sheets - preferably the jelly roll style with a lip around the edge. Great as trays for on-the-go meals/snacks, a hard surface to write & color upon, and they're magnetic! Get creative! The best use we found for these is for passing goods back and forth to the kids in the far back of the van. It's like an extendo-arm! Store them under or alongside the seats when not in use.
-pipe cleaners - fun for QUIET playtime. Have contests to see what everyone can make (animals, glasses, state outlines, etc).
pipe cleaner glasses - I threatened hubby that I'd wear them OUT of the car, too! I made plenty of people smile that we passed on the road. Just spreading the joy to others!

-books on tape - our kids favorites (ages 4-9) include "Hank the Cowdog," the Narnia series, and oddly enough, "A Christmas Carol." A little odd for July, perhaps, but they sit quietly and enjoy it
-mystery bags - I have fun with this. Brown lunch sacks hold small treats or activites for the crew. The bags are only given at certain times, such as crossing a state line, counting 100 flags, or reciting all the multiplication facts they've learned. Hee hee, they are a captive audience, after all!
-printed games - scavenger hunts, state license plates, the dot game....old fashioned goodies.
-jump ropes/frisbees - great for burning energy at rest stops
-easy access to a change of clothes - you never know when someone will get car sick, have an accident, or if Dad/Mom will spill that 64 oz soda all over themselves!

Things I do NOT allow on road trips (I've learned this the hard way):
-scissors *except in my knitting bag
-toys/games that talk/sing/beep/make noise - pretty much anything with batteries!
-juice boxes
-gum/playdough/silly putty/slime/anything sticky
-anything with ear buds/headphones - this is a FAMILY trip after all, right?

Remember, half the fun is getting there, or it can be. Keep it fun, and be gracious with each other when things get tense. You never know what kinds of wacky things you'll see along the way! Hours together as a family is a precious time to make great memories. Happy trails!