With one-half of our vacation over, I’m certainly a lot wiser now than I was a week ago. My preparations were handy, but it was clear very early on that what was planned wasn’t all going to work out.
First of all, leaving the first day was challenging. Even though we had packed mostly everything, we still had a lot of stuff to load into the car. Next time everything really needs to be in the car two days ahead of time so that the last-minute stuff is done the night before.
The tip of going to a place to wear them out first thing is very good and one that we will try and do next time. Timing for this trip is tough because of it being two long, long days and we really just wanted to get to our destination. Plus, they only sleep an hour in the car, tops.
We have to stop every two hours when sleep has not happened and can stretch it to three hours when a lucky hour-long nap has occured.
Here’s what we’ve learned:
Rest stops are not for rest: No, you need to run them, jump them, spin them, toss them in the air, explore with them, and everything else you can think of before getting them back in that car. We ate lunch at our stops, too, in order to avoid big messes and more turning around in the car.
Bring sweets: I have been using lollipops as sanity-savers for awhile now, but this trip they have been worth their weight in gold. When it’s only been an hour and a half and they are starting to get restless, time for a lollipop. Other goodies include fruit roll-ups, or a box of raisins that, yes, will get dumped. But each sweet treat provided another few minutes of peace.
Toys are not toys in the car: The very things I thought would be magic in the car were not at all. Things that were a hit: Pom Poms. These were perhaps the best thing I brought. Also, those toy microphones that Target sells and that Gymboree uses in music classes. Also, wooden beads for banging together, musical instruments like maracas, and natural elements such as sticks, rocks and leaves. Things that didn’t work for this trip, for this age: most art supplies and drawing toys except one white board and dry erase marker. Perhaps on the ride home?
Not all kids are created equal: Like this needs to be said. But, as it turns out, one of my girls could ride all day and not play with anything. She turned her nose at just about everything except the pom poms and tossed EVERYTHING else to the floor within a second. The other one was happy to play with just about anything and kept it all in her lap, too.
Never underestimate organizational materials: We weren’t organized enough and that will be different going home. Toys easily got lost in the back, especially the smaller ones. By the end of the trip, it was pure chaos back there. Toy storage units that could fit on the floor would have been ideal. I never considered it because I thought a couple toys would entertain for at least a few minutes and then get returned to their little bag or box. Instead, those toys were quickly tossed to the side, the floor, or even in the back.
DVD player with two screens is nirvana: No joke; the creators of this should be proud of every cent they make because it means a half hour of quiet. I used these way more than I thought we would, especially on Day 2 when all bets were off, every snack had been used, and every toy presented and turned away.
All in all, the girls have traveled very well, but those 600 miles were very long miles. Some states seemed to drag on forever (Virginia) and others were a breeze.
Amazingly, though, the trip has been easier than I ever expected. I think we’re all just happy to be away and letting go of all rules.