Monday, 14 April 2014

Road trip with a Toddler survival guide (16 tips)

Road trip with kids
This past weekend, my husband and I survived a road trip to Germany! ... with a Toddler. We only live about an hour and a half from the border, but we went to Berlin, which added another four to five hours. The crazy  thing is we made it and it was relatively painless! 

I felt pretty prepared when we set out. My husband is always disappointed to see my idea of packing light is really, very different than his. Since becoming a mother, whenever I leave the house, I need to be able to take on multiple roles - I go from 'doctor'/boo-boo fixer, to clown, to cook, to this-is-absolutely-terrible-and-it-needs-to-be-fixed-right-now fixer. In order to be able to change my roles easily, I need to have supplies, so yes, I will be packing light by taking a small first aid kit, a bag of snacks, a backpack filled with toys, a diaper bag full of ... diapers, and back up clothes for the inevitable mess or spill that will happen somewhere down the road.

In the end, even though our car was pretty full, I did manage to have a well entertained toddler. So, for today's List it Tuesday post, I thought I would share some of the ways that we managed to get through our long drive! 

Road trip with a toddler tips

Welcome to Mommyhood: 16 tips for surviving a road trip with kids

  • Realistic expectations. It will take longer than you plan. You're going to have to stop. 
  • Be prepared for the unexpected. If you plan on driving for two or three hours straight, inevitably, something will happen that will make the trip take longer. It's okay. Stay calm, and go with it. 
  • Have an adult sit in the back. It was a bit weird to sit away from my husband, but I can't imagine being able to entertain the Toddler as well from the front. I could easily get toys or snacks to him, and prevent a tantrum before it even started. We sang songs together, chatted, and I got to read a few books. It was also comforting for him to wake up and see me sitting next to him. 
  • Bring water 
  • Healthy and easy snacks (like raisins, bananas, apples, grapes, carrots etc)
  • Make snack time last longer. We brought gapes and my son got to pull them off of the vine himself. I took small ones with three or four grapes and gave the vines one at a time to him. This made snack time last about half an hour, and he worked on getting his motor skills more refined. Win!
  • Make sure toys, snacks, diapers etc are easy to reach
  • Bring easy, safe toys (books, mega blocks, stuffed animals). Don't bring toys that make music.
  • New toys could definitely make a first appearance
  • Distribute giving the toys/food based on the mood in the car. My son started getting antsy, he got some legos. When he cried, he got a special toy (a book he normally isn't allowed to play with because he likes to tear it apart). When he yelled, he got another banana. When he was inconsolable and tried to unstrap himself from the carseat- he got to watch a cartoon. Yes. It happened. I let him watch some cartoons on my Phone. He normally does not get to watch TV so a half an hour in the car wasn't the end of the world.
  • If they are sleeping, do not stop. Yea. That was a fail for us. Before we left to go back home, I drank a bunch of coffee. One hour into the journey, I was in need of a rest stop, but the Toddler was sleeping. Guess who woke up and refused to sleep for the rest of the ride home!
  • If they aren't sleeping, when you do have a stop - let them run wild. Hopefully, that will burn some energy and they will sleep a bit in the car.
  • Bring a favourite blanket or stuffed toy
  • Sing songs together
  • Boobs - if you are still nursing, breastmilk can be a magical tool in the road trip arsenal. Seriously. My son is pretty much weaned, but still nurses daily at least once, and will not nap without it.
  • Make sure you have shade. If you don't have tinted windows, get something to put on the windows. The last thing you want is an overheated, sweaty toddler strapped into a car seat. 

Bonus tip: you could consider driving around the child's sleep schedule. We didn't really have that option as we were also traveling with other people, and were actually going to Germany for a birthday party/weekend. What we did do is let the Toddler go to sleep a little later than usual the night before so that when we left early the next morning, he was sleepy. He did end up sleeping in the car on the way there for a while.

And that's how we survived six hours in the car with a 19 month old. 

Check out my air travel tips for more advice on making your holiday easier and stress free!

Today, I am linking up at List it Tuesday hosted by Angie at Many Little Blessings and Kris at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers and the Growing Homemakers Link up, hosted by Jacinda at Growing Home.   

Thank you for reading,