We are road trippers. Always have been, and, as such, our son has also become a road tripper. He went on his first long drive ( not counting the hours we spent on the road trying to get him to sleep) at 3 months old. We took a 3 hour trip to Whistler, BC for a ski holiday. We’ve also taken him to Seattle (3 hours), Portland (6 hours), through Ontario and Michigan ( 2 days), and last year, we drove from BC to San Diego and Disneyland and back. It took 3 days each way. Oh, and did I mention that the kid is only 3 now? People thought we were straight up nuts to take a not-quite-3 year old on a road trip to California.
You know what though? He loved it. So, in honour of Monday Listicles, here is my list of things I’ve learned while being on the road with a kid.
1. You do not need to have a DVD player in the car to keep a kid occupied. We use good old fashioned books, music, and occasionally his LeapPad. Those things got us through 6 days of driving last year.
2. If you teach your kid about the stoplight colours and what they mean, be prepared to hear things like “Boo, red light”, “Red means stop”, “Yellow means stop!”, and ” Hey Daddy, green means go”. The joys of a 3 year old backseat driver.
3. Trying to keep a no food in the car rule doesn’t work. Instead, I limit which foods he gets to eat in the car. Goldfish = good. Ice cream = not on your life, kid.
4. If you put it on, kids will listen. I never know what kind of music the kiddo will like. Some days he likes to rock out to some old school Van Halen or Ozzy, and other days he can dance it up to David Guetta. We don’t listen to kids music in the car, except on those occasional days when I am trying to keep him awake after preschool. However, even when he’s asleep, the peanut gallery occasionally pipes up from the backseat to say “I don’t like this song”. Yes, he has opinions on the musical selections even when he is sleeping.
5. The car is a good place to have a nap.
6. Your car will never be clean again. No matter how hard you try, you will always have books, toys and water cups in the backseat. The best you can hope for is to not find smushed, soggy goldfish somewhere 2 months later.
7. The day that you forget to send the child to the bathroom before you leave home will be the day that you will hear “I have to PEE!” from the backseat while you are hurtling down the highway at 100 kms/hour. Between exits.
8. My kid can spot a Starbucks or a McDonalds from a mile away. Seriously. If we are looking for something, like a Starbucks, we just ask eagle eyes to look for one from the backseat, and he can find one every time. I don’t know where he learned that skill.
9. Rest station bathrooms are even grosser when you have a kid. At least when it was just me, I could make sure that I never touched the toilet with my hands. The fact that some don’t have soap makes me cringe. Thank goodness for hand sanitizer!
10. There is immeasurable fun in stopping to play on the grass at a rest station during a long drive. Even just kicking around a soccer ball or tossing a football for 10 minutes is enough to cheer up a grumpy kid. Always keep something to play with in the car.
Do you go on long drives with your kids? What are your tricks and tips?