Monday, October 22, 2012

The Key to Surviving a Road-Trip with Little Kids: Busy Bags and TV

Twenty four hours in the car with two little kids is a long time.  Believe me, we did it last summer.  Okay, we didn't do 24 hours straight.  Each way was 12 hours, but 12 hours can seem like a lot when you have a four year old asking every two minutes, "Are we getting closer?"  I always thought that was a joke that parents told to be funny, but it really does happen.  I haven't gotten around to blogging about the logistics of our road trip until now, but with the holiday season coming up, I figure people are going to be making some road trips, so I thought I would share my experiences.

I will say that the trip went remarkably well and was truly better than I would have thought possible.  Before we left, I spent hours getting our "busy bags" prepared.  This took a lot of time and effort because I had to really think through everything.  For example, I originally considered bringing beads so the kids could string necklaces, but then I realized that the kids would likely drop a few beads and then I would have my backside in the air the entire way, searching for missing beads.  In in the end, this is what I packed.  Each kid had their own backpack filled with several "new" items.  I tried to pull out something new about every hour or two, as soon as everyone got restless.   They were pretty simple stuff, like new coloring books from the Dollar Store, but just something they hadn't seen before made the trip much better for them.  For some other strategies, you can check out this article I wrote for Circle of Moms on Tips for Road-Trip Rookies.

So, here are the contents of our Busy Bags:
We had plenty of new new coloring books.  I also packed a Zip-Lock bag for each kid with brand-new crayons.

Next I used note-cards and stickers to make a home-made matching game.  I sat next to them and turned the cards over and they picked up a card and then had to try to find the matching card. 

This next one was inspired by the "Friendship bracelets" I made a kid. Did you ever make friendship bracelets when you were growing up?  Munchkin Girl isn't quite old enough for the real kind, and I had all this extra yarn left-over from our Strawberry Shortcake craft, so I but up dozens of yarn in the same length and tied them together at one end.  I brought a safety pin, just like I did with friendship bracelets and I affixed them to the traveling tray.  (On a side note, I don't really think these traveling trays were worth the money.  They were flimsy and I think I could have done this same thing with a pillow in my daughter's lap)

The next item was a favorite of the trip: a clip-board.  I printed out dozens of different coloring pages, all in their favorite characters.  I put them all in this sturdy folder, along with lots of colored construction paper.  We used the construction paper for lots of different stickers, which are great for keeping them busy.   Not only did they use their clip-boards for coloring pages and sticker games, it seemed to come in handy for lots of things.  We used them for the coloring books too.

I also wrapped up several new toys and pulled them out when things got really bad.  A few of our favorites were the Hide N Squeak Eggs found on Amazon and the Crocodile Dentist Game,,.  I also found a few good toys at the Dollar Store and in the toy section at Wal-Mart.

Lastly, we couldn't have made the trip without our DVDs!  I'm not a fan of being a hero on a road-trip.  If the kids are game for watching a little bit of TV, I say let them!

Thank you so much to everyone who has bought my book!  If you haven't seen it yet, I would love it if you checked it out!  If you have ever asked yourself questions like, these, then this is the book for you!

Why do my kids drive me so crazy sometimes?
Why do they just want to watch TV all day long?
How am I ever supposed to get anything done when my kids won't stop pestering me?

In this book, I teamed up with former Kindergarten teacher, Susan Case, and we worked together to give a Mom's point of view and a teacher's point of view, so that we could give you activities that not only keep the kids busy, but also keep them motivated to learn and develop their natural curiosity. Here is what one of the reviews says on Amazon:

"This book seriously saved my sanity. I've read a bunch of parenting books but this is literally the only one that actually gave me real and specific advice and ideas for things to do with my daughter. I'm a stay-at-home mom to a 2-year old and I was at my wits end trying to come up with ideas of fun, easy, creative things to do with her that will keep her busy and occupied and help her learn. I wasn't very good at following through on ideas that I heard about from friends or read in other books or online because they seemed too complicated (aka: messy!) but this book broke it down and made it so simple. I highly recommend it!"

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  1. Yep this looks like the airport bag I pack up when we travel somewhere. We are going to be doing a Cabo trip here soon for my little ones 3rd bday and I have already started picking up little knick knacks for the bag and I love the dollar store they have the best stuff to keep kiddos busy.

  2. Wow, I can't believe your little one is almost three! Life sure does go quickly! I remember she was just a little toddler when we first started following each other's blogs! Crazy!! Have a great trip! :-)

  3. These are life savers! Great ideas! Had never thought of the yarn bracelets. Very good for fine motor skills.

  4. With my kids two hours is a long time in the car lol! That is why I really do appreciate coming across this read! My kiddos and I are in for a very long trip for the Holidays, so I'm looking forward to putting your ideas into good use. I agree about the whole TV thing too, so I know we'll be using my iPad and DISH Remote Access app a lot as well. I love TV just as much as the kids do, so I was thrilled when my coworker at DISH got me a Sling Adapter a few weeks ago. Anywhere we get a 3G/4G or Wi-Fi connection on the road we'll be able to watch all of our shows from home, live or recorded, anywhere we are. It should be a good time, so I’m sort of looking forward to the drive. :)