Weekly Dish Blog - The Great American Roadtrip?
many times can one family sing Wheels on the Bus before losing their minds?
I’m about to find out.
It’s time for a 12 hour road trip…with a toddler. We are setting our sights on the open road this week, traveling from Texas to Florida to visit some dear friends of ours. After nearly having a heart-attack when checking out the airfare, my husband and I had the “we could drive it, it wouldn’t be that bad” conversation. Maybe it was the wine talking, maybe it was our checkbook begging for mercy, maybe it was my husband and I trying to prove that having a child couldn’t stop us from jet setting (car setting?). Regardless of the reasoning, it’s happening.
So what’s my plan of attack, you ask? I’ve divided the attack plan into three categories: sleeping, eating and entertainment. I feel that if we are successful in all three of these areas, the road trip can be a fun family experience and not a complete failure that we vow never to attempt again as long as we both shall live.
Let me start by telling you about the sleeping. We decided that it would be best to do the drive all at once, as opposed to stopping at a hotel for the evening with all of our gear. And we decided that the longer our daughter sleeps, the happier we all will be. Therefore, we will begin our journey by getting up at the crack of dawn. We will ever-so-carefully transfer the child from bed to car seat, without waking her up (I’ll let you know how that goes). This is the foundation of the road trip; one slip up here could result in a 12 hour uphill battle. If we are successful, my husband and I will partake in a very quiet high five, toast our good parenting with a hot thermos of coffee and we’ll be on our way.
After the initial sleeping phase, we will move into the eating phase. The eating phase will be an ongoing process throughout the drive. In general, all food consumed in the car will be dry, but not crumbly. The child will not be consuming anything that melts, is sticky, can be mashed into a fine impossible-to-clean powder, can be matted in her hair requiring scissors for removal, or will smell like death if it falls between the seats and is left undiscovered for a month. Breakfast and snacks will be consumed within the car and will fall within the above mentioned guidelines. The only meal we intend on enjoying outside of the car is lunch, which will take place at a kid-friendly, energy-burning establishment. If we can make it until lunchtime, using the impending playground as bribery for at least an hour before actually stopping, we will be golden.
And the third phase, also ongoing throughout the drive, is the entertainment. I’ve decided that there are two keys to successfully entertaining the child: the quality of the entertainment and the timing of the entertainment. I must combine some old and some new activities to ensure attention span is at maximum capacity and I can’t show my hand too early or I’m screwed. There is a very delicate balance here that must be struck, and here’s how I intend to succeed. Early in the morning, I plan to replicate our morning routine from home and get some Mickey Mouse Clubhouse playing on a portable DVD player. Despite her inevitable pleas, I plan to shut this off and put it away after one episode (always leave them wanting more…it can be used as bribery in a pinch). At this point, she’ll have a full belly and think we’re just going for a drive, having no clue that she’s got 11 more hours to go. I figure we can kill an hour just driving, singing songs, looking out the window and talking about what we see. I feel like this will lead us into the pre-lunch ants-in-her-pants. A nice combination of toys (both new and old), along with a light snack should allow us to coast into lunch. Remember, I can administer threats using the pending playground as my pawn, to help us through this phase. After lunch, we’ll want to encourage a nap. It’s at this time that I plan to introduce a new book…a long, colorful, pop-up book. With any luck, the book combined with the full lunch belly and playground recuperation will result in a nap. If this fails and grumpiness ensues, the DVD player will quickly reappear and Strawberry Shortcake can coax her into a deep slumber. And then it’s smooth sailing until we reach our final destination.
If I can successfully execute the sleeping, eating and entertainment phases of my road trip strategy, we may just have a fun family experience. If not, well…please pray for me. I’ll be sure to give you an update in the next few weeks. Until then, if you have any tips and tricks for road tripping with a toddler, or feedback on my foolproof strategy, please feel free to let me know over in our Community. Wish me luck!