Summer is fast approaching and you may already have your travel plans laid out. If traveling to your destination involves several hours of driving and you have small children with you, then you need to make more than the usual preparations. Kids can easily get bored while being cooped up in a car for long periods of time and a long road trip can easily become an ordeal if they are not kept from boredom. Hence, you need to take steps to keep them occupied and happy while on a long drive with you.
First and foremost, plan properly for the trip. Make a checklist of the things that are needed for the long drive so you will not forget them. Better yet, prepare a bag to put them all in, so you will know in one glance which items are yet to be included. The bag should contain toys, books, water bottles, snacks, medicines, diapers, wipes and other essentials.
Preparation also involves making your children understand that they need to behave while on a trip. You can set down certain rules like letting them bring along two or three of their favorite toys and letting them know that you will take away the toys if they misbehave and reward them if they behave well. Of course, this can be on a case to case basis but it does help to talk to your kids what is expected of them during the trip.
Picture books and toys are a great help during long drives. You can bring along puzzles, dolls, stuffed animals, tablets or other electronic gadgets that can help keep your children preoccupied. Also, don’t forget to bring along a football and soccer ball, or even a Frisbee, which your children can play with during stops.
Even though you might want to reach your destination as the soonest possible time, you have to make a stop every two or three hours to give you and your kids some time to stretch your legs and take a break from the monotony of the long drive. Naturally, you also need to take toilet breaks. Do not expect public restrooms to be as clean as the toilet in your home, so bring along wipes and sanitizers. On one road trip though, we chanced upon a clean portable toilet near a camping site which included a sink and liquid soap dispenser. I inquired about this unique portable toilet and was informed by the camp manager that they were able to rent the unit by going to the company website of Portable Toilet Co. If only all portable toilets were as clean as theirs, then long drives would be so much easier for everybody.
Listening to music can seem a long drive much shorter. However, since you have your children with you, don’t expect to listen to your kind of music because more than likely, your car stereo will be playing children’s music. Bring along your kids’ favorite CD’s that they love to sing along with and you can sing with them too.
Have patience, especially if your kid is a toddler. Kids at this age range can be cranky when their regular routine is disrupted and you might need to comfort him several times during the trip. Sometimes, even with the best of plans, setbacks do happen on a long trip. You can prepare for emergencies but don’t expect everything to go one hundred percent smoothly. If you prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for such situations, you will be more capable of dealing with them.
Going on a long drive with small children and toddlers can be a trying and exhausting experience for parents; but with proper preparation, it doesn't have to be.