Friday, October 2, 2015

Surviving a Road Trip with a Toddler

With winter quickly approaching and the idea of having to venture out in 20 degree weather for a gallon of milk becoming much more of a reality, we have been seriously contemplating a move to warmer climate. My husband's work has an office in Phoenix so this past weekend we took a trip out to Arizona hoping to find a new place to live.

First off, can I just say how great Arizona was for this pregnant woman! My home state is California, but unfortunately that is still just a little out of our price range for the time being. But Arizona has everything I have been missing from California: warm weather, palm trees, jack in the box chicken strips, and Thrifty's Chocolate Malted Crunch ice cream! I was in HEAVEN for that brief weekend trip!

From where we live now to Phoenix is roughly a 10-10 1/2 hour drive. I had been dreading it for weeks. I even contemplated sending Scott alone so that we wouldn't need to take our 15 month old on the long car ride. But, Scott insisted we come & so we did and you know what? It wasn't so bad.

To give you an idea of my little one year old's personality type: he is not mellow at all. He is very active and gets easily frustrated if we have to stay indoors for too long. Yesterday he kept handing me my purse and saying "go." And if I don't look like I'm planning on going anywhere anytime soon, he will grab his diaper bag and go without me! He heads straight to the front door with my car keys and tries desperately to unlock the door. Thank goodness he hasn't quite figured out locks just yet!

I think we can agree that no toddler, young child, or even adult likes to sit in a car all day, so here are some things we did to make this road trip a successful tear-free one!

great tips for surviving a road trip with a toddler- on & off the road!

1. Get as much energy out before the trip begins.

  • Get your kids laughing and really just wearing themselves out before you get in the car. The road is really going to be quite a boring time, so try to help them enjoy themselves before begins. This helps so they are less antsy from the beginning.

2. Plan around sleep schedules. 

  • I wanted to drive from bedtime on, but the route we were taking was full of deer so we decided that probably wasn't the safest time to drive. We ended up leaving around 2:30pm which was a hour before David's afternoon nap. This worked perfectly because about an hour in is when he would normally start to get restless, but instead he just got sleepy.

3. Fill up either a half hour after kids wake up, or once they start to get restless. 

  • We get great gas mileage in our car so it made it easy to cater fill ups to David's sleep schedule. We made sure to stop at a gas station near a fast food place where he could run around & stretch his legs before getting back in the car (i.e. McDonald's Play Place).

4. Bring snacks and sippy cups.

  • Here are some of our go-to snack ideas, for this trip we relied on gold fish and grapes and water. He also ate with us whenever we would stop. Even if your kids are too old for sippy cups, any cup with some type of lid is probably a good idea for in the car. Last thing you want to do is have to stop on the side of the road to clean up a spill..

5. Bring some toys.

  • Movies seem to work well for older kids, David's still not quite into them yet so we relied on a few of his favorite toys. We brought his favorite stuffed animal & that thing was a lifesaver on the way home! We also brought a baby version of an Ipad that we got at Babies R'Us and a rain stick. 
  • Toys were a last resort. When he was being good and just sitting in the back talking to himself we kind of just let him do his own thing; it wasn't until he started to get really fussy that we'd hand him a toy. 
  • I definitely recommend bringing at least one that is electronic. If we didn't bring the toy Ipad, we probably would've brought a toy laptop.They definitely seemed to keep our munchkin engaged longer when he's stuck in his seat than the other toys.
Okay, now it's 10 hours later, you've checked into your hotel and your toddler won't sleep! Now what?
  • If your baby is used to sleeping in a crib, ask your hotel if they have one. Most hotels with have either a crib or a pack-n-play that you can use for free. David gets too riled up if we let him sleep in our bed, so having the pack-n-play really helped him at bed time & for naps. 
  • Bring their blanket from home. This was a comfort item that reminded him of sleeping at home & really helped.
  • Bring a stuffed animal. David's stuffed cat sleeps with him every night at home so bringing that along was such a good decision for us.
  • Sing them to sleep or any of your normal bedtime routines. The key is to keep things as normal and routine as possible. David has a song my husband has sung to him every bed time since he was brand new so this definitely did the trick! If your routine is a bath and then a story, do that! Anything that will remind them of their normal routine is so important when everything else is so different.
  • Be patient and let yourself have a break. If you're lucky enough to have your spouse with you or another family member who is willing to help, let them. Switch off & take a break. This road is hard on you too, if you don't have to do it all yourself--don't!
Good luck! I hope you all have successful, stress-free, safe road trips! Let me know some of your road trip go-tos in the comments below!

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