Day-tripping weather is almost upon us! So much exploring awaits! Ontarians are extremely fortunate to be pawns in a beautiful landscape full of nature, fun and adventure!
If your mini travels find you bringing along mini-companions, it’s important to ensure you’re as prepared as possible, so that your memories are smooth and happy and the only meltdowns around are ice cream drippings on chubby little hands.
Here’s a “Road Trip 101” checklist to help get you well on your way to “Are We There Yet??”
1) Distractions, distractions, distractions
Kids need lots of things to keep their active minds busy and their short attention span at a manageable level. Car trips are a lot better for everyone if the sounds of screaming, crying, fighting and whining are replaced with giggles, singing and fun conversation. Pack a toy bag with lots of age appropriate activities based on how long your precious cargo’s bum will be glued to his or her car seat. A laptop table makes a great surface to rest on your kid’s lap where they can do puzzles, colouring, read a book, or if they’re like most 3 year olds+, scroll through an iPad with ease and entertain themselves with kid-friendly apps.
2) Keep ’em munchin’ with snacks
Ease hunger pangs with a nice variety of snacks to keep the munchkins munchin’ when the urge strikes. This will make for less pit-stops, healthier and more controlled food choices and lets face it, everyone loves snacking on a road trip- it’s one of the best parts!
3) Prepare for car sickness
If your little one suffers from car sickness, a dose of kid-safe Gravol should help tremendously. This might make your rowdy cowboy turn into a sleeping prince for a while, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Simon and Garfunkel were onto something with their hit “The Sound of Silence”.
4) Clean up station
Bring a full change of clothes for each child for those “just in case” moments. Perhaps you’re just discovering your little monkey has motion sickness, as displayed all over his Oshkosh’s. Perhaps that fruit punch drinking box didn’t go as smoothly as planned. Along with a bottle of hand sanitizer, box of baby wipes and a bag for garbage, it’s amazing how a five minute pit stop can get your little one looking picture perfect once again.
5) Diapers, bottles and blankets
If babies are members of the posse you roll with, make sure to have diapers, bottles (if necessary), a blanket and a toy or two, as well. Appropriate clothing for the inside temperature of the car shouldn’t be overlooked, especially for longer trips. Anyone can become cranky when overheated, especially babies.
6) First-aid to the rescue
Unless you’re a member of the WWE, no one ever plans for blood on their road trip, but hey, with kids, you just never know. Be prepared. Bandaids, alcohol wipes, ah heck just invest in a little first aid kit that will cover most small emergencies. It’s probably a good idea to carry this in the car, anyhow.
7) Crank the tunes!
Let there be Music!! A CD of children’s rockin’ tunes is a surefire way to get your future Canadian Idol wannabes belting their little hearts out and entertaining Mom and Dad along the way. To keep your sanity, a healthy ratio of kid:adult songs is not only permitted, but highly recommended.
8) Keep the kids informed
Let the kids in on where you’re going, how far it is and how long it should take. Making a little map and tracking it along the way with a marker is a good visual for curious minds and will help your child know there’s a destination in site. If they’re informed ahead of time and along the way, frustrations from not knowing how much longer they’ll be confined should be lifted.
9) Plan for pit stops
If your road trip is several hours or longer, plan for a couple of leg stretching, pee-relieving, diaper changing, snack munching, gas re-filling pit stops along the way. If you’ve mentally prepared for extra time spent along the way, you won’t be stressed or tempted to make up distance along the way. If you have to be somewhere at a certain time, allow for lots of extra “things” to happen along the way….an hour at least to be on the safe side.
10) Kick back and ENJOY yourselves!!
Road trips are the thing kid’s childhoods are MADE of!! Make it a happy, loving memory for all of you! Talk! Get to know each other without the hustle and bustle of email checking, phone ringing, TV blaring, internet surfing daily life. Take it back to basics and just spend time together doing nothing. Nothing but chatting, laughing, asking questions, re-learning each other and loving every minute of it! Safe travels!
There you have it – 10 tips to make your road trips with the kids a little more fun and stress free. Do you have any tips you’d like to share? Leave them in the comments below.