How to survive a road trip with kids
Subtitle: Seriously babe, we are doing this again? For 12 hours? Why aren’t we on the train? A plane? Fine, fine, just mount up.
Step 1: Pre-threaten your children. Any good parent has learned the fine art of pre-threatening. This is where you lay out the worst case scenario possible of what could go wrong on this trip and explain explicitly to your children how much pain you will inflict on them if they DARE cross you or create any of the above mentioned situations. I prefer to do this in Spanish so anyone close to me will not know what I am saying and therefore cannot call Child Protective Services.
Step 2: Get the car looked at. This is more for your husband’s piece of mind than to prepare your children, but the argument can be made that any instance of breaking down on the side of the road 8 hours from home with two children under the age of ten is something we want to avoid anyway. What you need to be careful of in particular is that you go to a mechanic you trust so they do not see the panicked look in your spouse’s eyes of “please for the love of all things holy do not let us break down with these damn kids” and take you for every dime you have. That you need for tolls. And gas. Because we can invent damn phones that have conversations with you and act like butlers but we are still using dinosaurs corpses to make our vehicles move. That makes sense....
Step 3: The hourly gift. This is a little gem I stole from my mom. Go to the dollar store and for every hour of the trip buy a small toy/candy/coloring book/object for your little one. I have two kids and the trip to the in-laws is 12 hours so I buy 24 little things. $24 you think. Heck no! I hit the 2/$1 or 4/$1 bins or I bust up a multipack. Why an hour? First, it is easy to count and second it takes about 40 minutes before whining starts. If you make the gift giving an entire process, it can kill each hour successfully. Until they are 5. Then they catch on. Keep reading if your kids are older than 5.
Step 4: Plan your travel. TRAVEL AT NIGHT. I cannot stress this enough. First, and hopefully quite obvious, is that your children will be asleep. And you want them unconscious for as much of this as possible, right? I mean, didn’t someone even write a children’s book called “Go the F to sleep” or something like that? I knew I wasn’t alone. Plus, not only will they be asleep, but no one is on the darn road except truckers. Now, truckers get a bad rap, but what is way worse than truckers are Prius drivers who think their little plastic car has super powers enabling them to teleport in front of you and those trucks without signals. Fortunately, Prius owners have their little eco-friendly pup tents popped in a state park at night so you can avoid them too.
Step 5: MOVIES MOVIES MOVIES or TV.... You’re too lazy to shoot 5 hours energies every two hours to make it through the night, whatever. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. However, since I pity you I am strongly advising you to invest in one of these: http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Philips+-+9%22+Widescreen+Portable+DVD+Player+with+Dual+Screens/9468952.p;jsessionid=C5A7862D721865A4B07A4008AC6C929A.bbolsp-app01-02?id=1218110421046&skuId=9468952
This is a portable DVD player and it will SAVE YOUR LIFE. Unless you have one kid they will fight over the iPad or the computer, so the two screen are important. If the trip is long, alternate between the children’s selections. If you are having a hard time deciding what to show, remember Star Wars? Kid crack? Once they hear that first ‘duh duh’ of the music the car will drop to silence.
Side note: If you travel at night, you might still want to get one of these just in case. After all, worst case scenario, you can watch Michael Shanks movies (or preferably Stargate) the entire way there. Yummy...
Step 6: Drugs. Not for you!! You are driving. I mean for the kids. Now, I don’t do this because we are health nuts, but I have friends who give the kids Benadryl right before leaving at night and boom, they are out for at least 10 hours. This creeps me out, but it works...
Step 7: Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Mom, when are we getting there? Dad, can we stop? I have to pee. No, I can’t hold it. I really have to go. There’s a McDonald’s!!! No, mom I really have to pee; I don’t want a happy meal. Thanks for stopping, I thought I was going to explode. Since we’re here, can I get a Happy Meal? ...... I don’t even want to hear it. See Step 4 and you could have avoided this entire mess.
Step 8: Learn to LIE. Even if you are driving thought the night the kids might wake up at some point. When they ask, are we there yet, with a smile on your face reply “In about a half an hour.” Most kids have no concept of time, so they will accept this at least three times in a row before they question you. If you are driving at night, they will fall back asleep before they can ask again. If you are a moron and are driving during daylight hours, just change the DVD.
Step 9: The last leg. At this point in the trip I am done. If hubby has allowed me to actually drive any of the trip it is NOT this part because I am not a morning person regardless of whether or not I have gone to sleep. Everyone who knows me knows this, in fact, my students will message me “Have you had your coffee yet?” BEFORE they try to ask me a serious question. However, I have to stay awake to cheer on hubby for this last part of the journey. Enter Siri, my dearest friend. On Siri before we leave I create a playlist, and I call it Abydoys (we know where this is going, don’t we??). I set a four song pattern, three that will make me blissfully daydream about making Daniel Jackson forget that any other woman in the universe ever existed (Not Michael Shanks, I love him, but he is married to a cool and gorgeous lady. Oh, me being married? In my fantasies, I am not me, so it is all good :-) ) and the fourth song to remind me that my husband is driving and to snap out of it and make sure he has not fallen asleep. Kids at this point, still konked.
Step 10: Mom!!! *Big hug for awesome mother in law* We’re here! You got me Spanish wine? In advance!! You shouldn’t have (BIG LIE)!! Thank you but it’s only 9 a.m. (And I haven’t slept in over 24 hours) but yes, I will have a glass. A big glass.