Are We There Yet?
More and more, families are returning to the car road trip as a means to arriving to their favorite destinations. The up sides? No long lines at the airport or per-bag charges, for starters. Also, the last minute plans to visit newly fallen snow and fresh powder on the slopes! But parents still dread hearing the age old question:
"Are we there yet?"
Regardless of how many miles you have to go, that question inevitably pops up before you're even down the street. If your kids are anything like mine, they follow up the question with, "How many more minutes?" The last thing I want to do while maneuvering around fellow travelers driving 70 MPH is to do algebra -- distance divided by speed divided by minutes equals I-need-a-latte-and-some-ear-plugs!
To keep the fidgeting and questioning to a minimum and my sanity to a maximum, I do a little pre-trip planning.
Each of the kids gets their own pack with items to keep their hands and minds busy. I fill the packs based on their ages and interests. My son is in Kindergarten and loves to use his counting blocks to build things. While he's building, he's learning basic math skills. His pack also includes a coloring books, crayons, and sticker books. My seven year old daughter loves to read serial books. Before we get in the car, we to the bookstore to get the latest adventures of her favorite characters, Junie B. Jones and Judy Moody. She's also a budding artist, so her pack has a sketch pad and colored pencils.
For longer trips, I let the kids watch movies. If your car doesn't have a DVD player (ours doesn't), just use a laptop plugged into the car's A/C power. With a simple splitter, the kids are able to have their own headset to listen to the movies quietly. This makes Mama very happy!
We make sure to bring along plenty of good munchies for between-meal snacking. I'll pack a cooler with snacks like nuts, bananas, oranges, and yogurt. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are also great options when little snacks aren't quite enough. And make sure to keep the kids hydrated with water.
There are plenty of drive-thru options for a family on the go, but if your road trip is particularly long, you may want to take a break at a fast food restaurant that has a play yard. The kids will have a chance to burn off some energy and you can stretch your legs and relax.
When I see a sign for an upcoming rest stop, I make the announcement. If one of the kids has to go, I try not to show disappointment. Next time they want to say yes, they might hold it, which might lead to an accident. For smaller children, it's a good idea to pack a training potty, just in case. The trip might take a "wee" bit longer with these stops, but they are unavoidable, so planning for that extra time makes the trip more enjoyable for all.
With just a little planning and patience, getting their will be an enjoyable experience.
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