10 Tips to ensure Road Trip Survival with Kids!CONTESTS, NEWS, REVIEWS & CONTESTS | Nirasha Jaganath | August 27, 2013 at 8:29 pm
When Stop ‘n Shop asked me if I would chat about their fuel points system I thought it good to pair it up with some tips with kids. While to most of us adults we “just want to get there already”, kids actually consider the journey to be the “event”. We could increase our happiness ten-fold if we took a page out of their book. I have 5 sisters (yes F-I-V-E) and road trips were a hoot. We chose our carefully mixed tapes (remember them), packed boiled eggs and chicken and mayonnaise sandwiches and bitched about the heat (there was no AC) in between us belting out to the tunes of Duran Duran and Rick Astley. Ah, the good ole days.
Most days a trip to the grocery is one peppered with sibling squabbles and the thought of longer visits is sure make any mama tremble. My kids are 6 and 8 years old and these are just a few things I consider when we hit the road. I’m assuming there may a couple of road trips in the near future with Labor Day weekend coming up fast.
10 Tips to ensure Road Trip Survival with Kids!
1) Hand Held Games
If you were assuming electronics you were 1/2 correct. Here’s the thing: hand held games were around longer than any iPod. Personally I leave electronics as my last resort and most often I don’t have to resort to it. Holding out also teaches my kids that there are other things to play with, not that I hate electronics, as an engineer it would be crazy to. So anything from those cheaper rinky-dink water ring toss game, to magnetic hangman games all work. Needless to say skip anything that has bits and pieces unless your idea of fun is sticking your head under the seats and hunting down any escapees. If you choose to do the electronic route mind the volume, opt for headphones and pay attention to the volume control for little ears. I highly recommend over the ear kid headphones that are built to not be too loud for their wee ears.
2) Read, read, read!
Look they’re buckled so I am a huge fan of clocking reading minutes while in the car. In fact I even bought them a timer bookmark to assist the gloating nature of my girls (sigh!). While stories are good, feel free to fatten the reading collection with non-fiction and even magazines. Stay tuned to another post where I discuss those. I am pretty used to my kids yelling “Mom, how do you say this word?” followed by the loudest spelling of the word (since I’m driving) you can imagine. Sometimes, when the sibling rivalry is at a low point we have the older offer help and the younger accept it. That, is rarer than I would have liked.
3) Audio Stories
If you’re anything like my husband, you would have me believing I am ruining my kids’ eyesight for good, or that my kids will want to throw up from nausea of reading while in motion (has. not. happened. yet) you may want to check in to the audio book route. When hubby used to travel alone while doing his MBA part time at night he swore that the audio books not only kept him alive (by keeping him awake) but also taught him a thing or two. Besides the nausea and eyesight arguments I like audio books for another reason: the whole family can listen to the book together.
4) A travel project
A cheap little notebook and a pencil and/or crayons along with a mission and you can have some amazing things to stem from a trip. Every excuse to sneak in some learning and also some learning to understand your kids better can be built into an activity. We always ask our kids before we head on vacation what are they looking for and what do they expect to find and end it with highlights. Some times I make it even more in-depth like using #niricamp13 (my home summer camp this year) I asked them for ways they saw the resort we were in at Cancun be eco-friendly. This started out in a “keep you occupied so dad and I can chat” activity and turned into a “wow, I had no idea you even noticed that”
5) Seat rotation
So if you’re not the only driver in the car chances are that you swop driving duties from time to time. Well, they may not be driving but a change of scenery can ward off a tantrum or so. Every time you change seats, do that for the kiddos too. I totally get that with kids and car seats it is a pain but booster seats are easier to swop around. Also? How about moving in with the kids? If for a bit an adult can sit in with the kids, of course this depends on your vehicle space, it would really mix it up in the backseat. A new view is something we all need from time to time.
You know how they say in war you can succeed if you “have the element of surprise”? Or am I watching too many outdated movies? I really have thwarted a tantrum or meltdown or more just with something they have not seen before. I normally stock up on the $ corner at quaint toy stores. Something cute but an activity or toy they have not seen ever before or played with. Curiosity alone will buy you some quiet time in the car.
7) Hunger and Hydration
It saddens me that kids never get enough water and I am no role model for drinking enough yet water is so important. Recently to inspire me to get more water in me I started out declaring loudly “water break” and everyone has 10 seconds to find a bottle and drink water. It has worked well and since I fly often I know water is so vital. Seems crazy but when you feel good you act better. Same with snacks and if you read many guides they tell you to make sure you carry snacks, I’m here to say that is not enough. The type of snack makes a world of difference. On flights they normally give you high sodium dried up junk and you feel exactly like that later. Having snacks like fruit, cheese or yogurt actually makes you feel much better and I am not a fan or artificial dyes in kids because I really do think they lend to the hyperactivity in kids. Keep it fresh and your kids will be fresh too.
Make sure the clothing the kids are traveling in are comfortable. While most clothing is comfortable if you’re going to be sitting for extended periods of time you may want softer fabrics with elasticated waistband. When I fly I don’t wear the fanciest clothing and honestly look like I came from the gym with my yoga pants but boy am I comfortable. Same for kids, especially since kids suck at times at articulating what is bothering them and just act out. I would keep soft fabrics and keep a layered format of dressing. Big and bulky sweaters are not the best for inside a car. Also I make hubby and I dress in similar layers to kids so that we always have an idea of temperature in the car because it is easy to forget and crank the temperature on either spectrum. If you think they may nap a small blanket, one per kid (give up the notion that sharing blankets work in cars) is handy to carry.
Similar to my point in snacks, it is not just that you take breaks, because that should be pretty obvious. When I traveled sans kids, breaks were the enemy unless I was falling asleep or the car needed gas. I get it, you want to cover as much ground as possible and since no-one asked to use the bathroom, it looks like a good idea to keep driving. Wrong! You DON’T want to be stuck in traffic with no exit in sight with a kid who “has to go!”. With kids there is no “I may need to go” but it is immediate, like all the time they just don’t realize it unless it is an emergency. So plan breaks to empty their bladders so prevent that happening. My youngest always whines “But I don’t really need to go!” but my 8 year old smartly says “I don’t really want to go but I will just to make you happy!”. Multitasking freaks that we are we try and combine a foot stretch, pee-break and food break all in one stop. One of our favorite stops from Boston to New York City is the IKEA store, not to shop, but just a perfect break for kids (the food ain’t too shabby either). If you can work in a local attraction on your route, even better.
“Are we there yet?” !!!! Enough to make you scream, right? Especially when it is every. 5. minutes! We give the kids a map and talk about where we are going through. This way they don’t feel helpless and a captive passenger not knowing where and what. When they ask where are we now, you can either ask them to read sign boards outside or tell them and and draw the route map with a marker and see clearly how far they’ve come or more importantly, how far they have to go.
I hope that helps but just I have something to make the ride even more sweet. No road trip is complete without gas and you may think that when you pull up as a gas station there is no coupon you can use but there is a way to save. I have a Stop & Shop rewards card (which is free) and earn points during my grocery shopping to pay less at the pump.
An snapshot of the program:
- Save 10¢ per gallon for every 100 points you earn.
- You earn 1 point for every dollar you spend with your Stop & Shop card
…up to $2.20/gallon!
You can find more details on the program here
Want to win a $50 Stop & Shop gift card?
You can use it in store or at Stop & Shop gas locations!
To win, leave a comment below as to Whether you have used this program before? That’s it easy-peasy, no hoop jumping needed here on MommyNiri.com. Winner chosen by random.org. Giveaways open to US residents only 21+ only. Winner must reply within 24 hours or new winner will be drawn.
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Disclosure: A card for prizing and review were provided by Stop and Shop!