We've just moved. Not from one house in town to another. But one house in one town to another house in another town, 2 provinces away. That meant 2 full days of driving...with 3 kids. It's a great time of year to do this sort of thing. It's summer, the weather is good for driving. (The last time we moved like this, it was December and there were snowstorms to pass through). But still, it's two days of driving with kids. Kids who don't like to be cooped up. Kid who to quote my mother, "run around like crazy chickens" when they are released for a break from it all. (Yes, God bless my mother who came along to help us out!)
There was nothing that this car trip didn't have, including one bout of car sickness, a few choruses of, "Stop it!", followed by the ever so popular, "Are we there yet?" sentiment. So here are my tips for helping your kids and yourself maintain some sanity when you must be locked in a small moving vehicle for hours upon end.
First, prepare for car sickness. Seriously, even if your child has never, ever gotten car sick before. I was anticipating that this may happen with one of my children who is notorious for it. I gave him the Children's Gravol before we left. Of course this would be the trip that his little brother threw up. Give all children Children's Gravol! And pack plastic bags and lots of wipes just in case! Have a change of clothes handy for them too.
As much as you may hate the idea of your children watching TV for hours upon end, a portable DVD player can be a lifesaver for a trip like this. They are going to be sitting there anyways, may as well have some entertainment handy. It beats counting the trees as you go by.
Have snacks ready. For this, and this alone we broke our 'no eating in the car' rule. It's amazing how many extra KMs you can get by saying, "who wants a fruit snack?"
Plan in time to pee. That may sound silly, but it was the pee breaks (not lunch) that saved our sanity. Just that 15 minutes out of the car, where everyone can stretch their legs a bit, breaks up the monotony of a trip like this. It rejuvenated us all and let us get a little bit further in the day.
Gramma's secret stash. My mom packed each child a few 'little somethings' for along the way. They were given at lunchtime and at the hotels we stopped at for the night. Those 'little somethings' were great incentives for my kids to behave.
Car entertainment bags are great too. My older kids each had a Where's Waldo book, an Eye Spy book, a Colour Wonder colouring book and a few favorite toys to play with. My toddler's bag had 2 stuffed toys, a few cars and a few little people.
Remember they are kids. The excitement of the 'car trip' wears off after the first day. The second day is always harder because they now know what it really means. As much entertainment and car games that you may have handy, they really don't want to be there any more. For this reason we tried to push in an extra hour that first day, to take away an hour out of the second, make it a little shorter. It's also a good reminder that kids will be kids and they may just get cranky, heck we as adults get cranky, so give them a little bit of wiggle room to get by.
Go with the old car trip classics. Think the alphabet game, the license plate game, 20 questions and I spy. They worked when we were kids. And they still work now.
So whether your car trip is up to the family cottage, traveling across country for pleasure or like us you are moving, trust me, you can get through it, and make some good memories while you are at it. Have fun!