We live about eight hours away from my parents and eight hours in the other direction from my sister, so traveling with children is a must in order to see my family. We are blessed with two girls who are wonderful in the car, but no child can stay on their best behavior for eight hours.
Crayons, coloring books, play computer and doodle are all staples. As Jen mentioned in a previous post about flying with kids, buying them something new always works as well. A new coloring book or toy will keep them interested longer than normal. Zoe has a lap desk that holds crayons which is great for the car. It keeps her crayons within reach and holds her paper or coloring book in place. Zoe is pretty good about entertaining herself for periods of time with these toys. But I do have to help entertain her in intervals. Sometimes we look for different color cars or signs and see who can find them first.
We have avoided buying a DVD player for the car because we worry that our girls watch too much television as it is. We don’t want it to become a habit to turn it on everytime we get in the car. But I think we might finally invest in it but make the rule that it is only in the car when we are traveling long distances (that is the benefit of buying one after market and not permently installed in your car). I know this would help tremendously when Zoe has become disinterested in the toys we have packed. And two hours of some piece and quiet for us would be welcomed on a long journey.
We also try to plan our trip around naptimes. Since Annie still takes two naps, we leave around 8:30, which gives her an hour of being up and running around the house before we strap her into the car seat for the long road ahead. Then about an hour to an hour and a half into the trip she falls asleep for her morning nap. When she wakes up, we stop for lunch and let her run around again. And then hit the road about an hour or two before her second nap.
I remember traveling with Zoe when she had just been potty-trained. Brent wanted to put a diaper on her to make it easier on us. I didn’t want to confuse her or head in the wrong direction with our potty training efforts. I will admit that it was a longer trip than normal since we had to make several stops, but we just had to be more patient.
There are lots of things to consider when traveling long distances with kids. I am sure there are plenty of smarty moms out there that have traveled some serious miles with kids in tow. We are still fairly new to these adventures, so let us know your smarty tips.