Kids have an amazing ability to create stress, especially when you’re all packed in a car. Here are some tips on how to make the drive a little more bearable.
Author Bio: Cristin Howard runs Smart Parent Advice, a site that provides parenting advice for moms and dads. Cristin writes about all of the different ups and downs of parenting, provides solutions to common challenges, and reviews products that parents need to purchase.
It doesn’t matter how far you’re going. Whether it’s one hour or one day, being on the road with your kids can be pretty stressful. From fighting in the backseat to falling asleep 5 minutes from your destination, something is bound to go wrong.
Rather than worry about it, plan ahead with these ideas for how to survive, keep your kids entertained, and make it to your destination all in one piece.
1. Get Creative
Art doesn’t have to be stationary or messy. You can always take it on the road with you. There are plenty of portable art kits, travel marker bags, and other fun mess-free options.
Try some of the mess-free markers that only color on the mess-free paper, or make sure you have washable colors so that even if they color on the car seats or their clothes, you can clean it up later.
If you have a toddler, look for crayons that are easy for them to hold so they won’t drop them all over the car.
2. Bring Toys
You don’t want to hit the road without your child’s favorite toys. If they have something they’re always wanting to play with at home but you never let them bring it with you, make an exception this time.
Your child will be so excited, and it will make your trip so much easier. They’ll be entertained and may just stay quiet for a good portion of the ride.
If you’re feeling extra generous, consider getting them some new toys for the trip, like some cars or baby dolls.
3. Plan Some Stops
Kids can’t sit still for long periods of time like we can. It’s important to plan frequent stops to allow them to let out their energy. It makes it easier for them to get back in the car with a better attitude.
You may just deal with fewer fits. Sure, it could make the whole trip longer, but it’s worth it to make it easier. You can enjoy stretching your legs and doing some sightseeing as a family, too.
Stopping for even 10 minutes will help everyone feel just a little bit refreshed. Plus, sometimes it’s just as much about the journey as it is the destination.
4. It’s About Timing
You can use your toddler’s napping schedule to your advantage one most road trips. If you’re driving for five hours or less, eat lunch and then hit the road right before naptime. You’ll spend your first hour or two with the peace and quiet you need for a peaceful drive.
If you have a longer drive, you can plan your stops according to when you think your child might sleep. There’s nothing more aggravating than your child falling asleep right before you need to stop for gas.
5. Pack Fun Snacks
Everyone loves snacks. This isn’t just for the kids. It makes the trip bearable for the whole family. You’ll want them to keep you awake while you’re driving, you’ll want to make sure you keep them handy for when your child gets a bit hungry, and your spouse may want some munchies, too.
It’s important on a long drive that you let go of the clean car and make a point to clean it when you get back home. You probably won’t make it there with a clean car. Especially if you’re going to keep snacks where you need them most.
You’ll want to make sure you have them in the door pockets, in the cup holders, and in the console.
They can solve a whole host of problems like if your kids get fussy or bored. Don’t skip meals, but also don’t withhold snacks just because it’s getting close to mealtime either. It can help get you there.
6. Eat Local
When it is mealtime, make sure you enjoy some local cuisine rather than do the same old boring thing. Mixing it up and doing something different can make the journey that much more exciting and give your kids something new to make it interesting.
You can either grab carryout from a local diner and go to the playground, or experience the flair and flavor of a corner booth in the family-friendly downtown dive. It’s up to you, and it may depend on the ages of your kids.
The important thing is that you do something you can’t do at home. You may find a new favorite or start a new tradition. But what’s the point of doing something you can do at home?
Driving with kids can definitely be stressful, but there are ways to make it a lot easier. There’s nothing that will fix the fussiest child at the end of the longest drive, but preparing for it in advance will make it just a bit easier.
Featured photo by Ketut Subiyanto