wife to Jake, mommy to my 3 crazy munchkins, Lily (7), Jonah (5.5) and Kate (4). Taking this crazy blessed life one day at a time.

2.21.2013

Road trip- how to survive a long trip with young kids.



This past week Jake and I confirmed that we are in fact going back to the Outer Banks, just like last year!

We could not be more excited! 

This winter, we have already 18 snow storms (according to FOX news last night), and when you have a husband that plows and salts for a college, that means you don't see him very much. 

I can't wait to have Jake with us for 11 days straight!! 

Anyway, I've been thinking about how we did the long trip with our three little munchkins without going crazy or wanting to drive off of the road. I realized that there is not much I am going to do differently to prepare for the long drive. 



So, I wanted to share how we survived driving from Boston to the Outer Banks without losing our minds. 

1.) Keep it simple: 

I went back and forth over what to bring to keep the kids happy and occupied in the car. There was so much I wanted to bring for them, so that they wouldn't get bored. 

But, I decided to try to make it simple and not give them too many choices. 

This is all I packed for the kids activites for the drive:
- a notebook and baggie of colored pencils for each kid
- books 
- a few small toy cars
- toy cameras (somehow we had enough for each kid and this was one of the biggest hits of the drive)
- 2 small magnadoodles
- Car bingo that I printed from Pinterest
-They also each got their special blanket and one stuffed animal

That's it. Since I kept it very simple, our car was not buried with toys and books and the kids didn't get overwhelmed with too many choices. 

This year, I might switch up one or two of last years ideas for something new. 

(We had a small(ish) car last year, so there wasn't room for each kid to get their own bag, but this year, since we have a van now (yippeeeeee!!), I might pack a bag for each kid.)

2.) Lots of healthy snacks:

I went and got lots of healthy snacks, like fruit, veggies, applesauce pouches (those things are awesome for roadtrips!), dried fruit, crackers, and things like that. 

Usually, the kids are allowed one morning snack and one afternoon snack. If they want something in between those times, it has to be a fruit or veggie. That's my rule. (Because of this rule, Jonah eats A LOT of fruits and veggies!) However, on a roadtrip, we break that rule. We give them lots of snack along the way, but in small portions. 

3.) Give rewards:

I printed off little tickets, and we told the kids that if they were being well-behaved, not fighting, using their words nicely, and things like that, then they would earn a ticket. When they got to 5 tickets, they could pick a "treat" out of the treat bag I had with me in the front. 

The treat bag was filled with fruit snacks, teddy grahams, and other little special snacks that they don't get to have very often. None of it was chocolate or horribly unhealthy, but it was things that the kids don't have much, so it was special to them. 

The tickets were good motivators for them to behave in the car.

I know that a lot of people don't like giving kids food as rewards, and that lots of people use dollar store toys and things like that as rewards, but I really didn't want all of those little annoying toys filling up precious space in our small car. So, we went with snacks. 

I can't find where I got the tickets from, but you can just google "printable tickets" and find some that way. 

4.) Give the kids their own map:

The kids loved this one as well. 

Jake printed off a map, one for each kid, for the trip down and also for the trip home. He marker our route for them, and also put numbers on or near the places we were going to stop. 

This was GREAT because the kids could look at their maps and see where we were and about how long until our next stop and also how far it was until we got to North Carolina. The seriously helped cut down the amount of "When will be be there??" and "How much longer??". 

I think this will help even more this year since the kids are a year older and last year Kate was still a bit young to understand the map concept. 

5.) Bring on the DVD player:

2 years ago we gave in and bought a portable dvd player for long trips. And yes, it has been the best $100ish we've spent. Okay, maybe not the best, but you know what I mean. 

We let the kids watch a movie after we've been driving for a couple of hours. When the movie is over, it's time for them to read, or color or whatever. 

We DO NOT just put on movie after movie after movie. We do want our kids to learn how to be patient and entertain themselves for extended periods of time without needing electronics. BUT, we are realistic in the fact that they can't ride for 13+ hours and be good the entire time. 

6.) Have a loose schedule:

When things would start to get out of hand in the car, we would stop them and say, "Okay, now it's reading time! Read for X amount of minutes and then it will be time for a snack/movie/game....."

That actually worked really well. It gave them something to focus on and they knew what would be coming up next. And it helped to snap them out of the fighting/boredom that was beginning to cause trouble. 


All of these things worked REALLY well for us on our long trip to and from the Outer Banks and I hope that you can find some ideas that will work for you too! 

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