Thursday, May 27, 2010
Tips for a Summer Road Trip with Children
As some of you may have deduced, my little family and I traveled from Nebraska to both Chicago and Minneapolis in the last month. We made both trips...by minivan.
Yes, you read that right. Minivan. It took us 7 hours to drive to Minneapolis. It took us 10 hours to drive to Chicago. (Strangely enough, the drive back to Nebraska from both places went a lot quicker - I don't want to say that speeding was involved, but yes - speeding was involved.)
Let me tell you, I have learned a lot this past month about how to keep 3 children aged 4 and under entertained while you're trapped in a 16 foot box on wheels. And I'm sure you guys are just dying for me to share what I learned along the way. So without further ado, here are my suggestions to any of you brave enough to attempt a road trip with your little darlings this summer:
Issue #1: PUBLIC POTTY-ING
Now I don't know about your kids, but my twins are still in the midst of potty-training, which definitely presents a unique set of challenges for a road trip. For example, Owen is afraid of the big potty. And Aidan, while not afraid of the big potty, refuses to use one unless he can first remove every article of clothing except his shirt.
So you can see, public potty-ing is a problem.
Now Owen's solution was simple - we just brought the little potty with us. Genius, right? It fit right in the aisle of the minivan so we had our own personal rest stop on wheels. Scott and I stressed about what to do with the pee-output, until we saw a dog taking a potty break right out on the grass and realized we could just dump it. We assumed the same rule would not apply to poop-output, but luckily God answered our request for constipation so we didn't need to worry about it.
With Aidan, well, I wish I had a great solution. But basically he just got naked in every public restroom we stopped at along the way. I disinfected him once we got to our destination.
Issue #2: ENTERTAINMENT
One word (or is it two?) - RedBox. Redbox, redbox, redbox. What an ingenious idea for a road trip! You stop at a gas station, rent DVD's for a dollar each, and continue on your merry way. One important thing I learned on this trip is that RedBox has a 5 DVD limit - and that you shouldn't waste one of those DVDs on "Scooby Doo and the Vampires", because apparently you have to be able to make it to the end of the Scooby Doo movie to find out that the vampires aren't really vampires. Otherwise, you just end up with a bunch of terrified kids muttering about vampires for the rest of the day while you try to explain that they weren't really vampires but just Old Man Maguire wearing a vampire mask, that crazy old bastard! It's hard to explain Scooby Doo.
Issue #3: THIRD ROW KID
Now, when you have a minivan and 3 kids, at least one of them is going to get stuck in the third row. I recommend you put the oldest back there, because if she needs something you can just throw it on back without having to stop the car. Ashley is excellent at catching snacks - she's got a real talent for it. Now if only I could get better at throwing them. We have a cookie graveyard back there that I'm sure I'll get around to cleaning eventually. Also, I didn't mean to hit Aidan in the eye that time, I swear.
Issue #4: SCENERY
If it all possible, I suggest driving through Iowa because there are huge windmills that line the interstate. And lots of little towns with water towers. And if you have children who go ape-shit over windmills and water towers like mine do, they will definitely be entertained for the majority of the drive.
However, I must point out that this can backfire on your return drive, if your normal windmill, water tower loving children all of a sudden decide that they absolutely HATE everything within a 180 degree view from their carseat. Because it's kind of hard to avoid looking at all those windmills. Especially when their older sister keeps popping up from the third row to say "Hey boys, look it's another windmill!" Sometimes throwing a cookie back at her will help that issue, but only if you have good aim.
Issue #5: LAST HOUR
In my opinion, the last hour of any road trip is the worst. By that time, everybody has had it and is ready to GET OUT. So my advice here is - do not get lost in the suburbs of Chicago. I'm looking at you, Scotty. Also, stop for milkshakes. It will buy you at least another 20 minutes. 25 if it takes your kids awhile to get that first sip up the straw.