Traveling with small children is tough for every family. Oh how I have dreaded flying with twinfants–you know what I mean!
Our family recently made a two day January car trip through flat prairies land as far as the eye can see, and we have more travel coming up this spring. While we prefer to drive over fly with three kids (and their stuff, and their carseats), and our kids are older, it doesn’t get any easier. We have tried everything to entertain the kids: new books and toys; games and candy; lots of stops at McDonald’s. In the end, we fall back on handheld game devices and DVD players–all three kids playing on watching with headphones means peace for the driver. Extremely bad parenting according to the experts in the books, magazines and websites. But I’m want to absolve you of all the guilt and tell you to do what you need to do to get to your destination safely–with your sanity intact!
As my kids get older, it becomes almost as much about the journey as the destination. At the end of the trip, while we all emerge from the crumb encrusted car tired and frazzled and sick of each other’s company, I can’t help but notice that there has been some bonding between siblings–some good has come from the hours on the road. An “we’ve been through this together” camaraderie. A “remember when we saw the giant airplane wings on the back of the truck…” reminiscence that continue to be discussed for hours as we drive. My husband and I join in with our memories of long car trips as kids: when there were no DVD players or ipods or carseats(!), when you could ride backwards in a station wagon or sleep on the floor of a sedan, where stopping for a bite to eat was not convenient as it is today and was always an adventure.
I think these trips form the foundation of our children’s lives and become part of our family history together. I end up being grateful for the excuse to to travel, grateful for the hours on the road, grateful for the whining, and the bad food, and the “he’s looking at me” and the “are we there yet” statements. I’m grateful once we are all out of the car!
How does your family handle car trips?
Leslie H. is a freelance writer to a spunky eight-year-old girl and two adventurous four-year-old boys.