Some sound advice for taking a road trip with kids

chrissycsmith July 28, 2014 Comments Off on Some sound advice for taking a road trip with kids
Some sound advice for  taking a road trip with kids

Are you about to embark upon a road trip with small children? Please, allow me to advise. I just returned from a 337-hour drive from here to Alaska with my four children, so I know what I’m talking about.
Actually, we drove past just San Antonio to Uvalde, Texas, but it might as well have been Alaska, as long as it took us to get there. And aside from the soul-crushing heat.
We visited my best friend Caryn and her three kids, keeping them company while her husband was away on some out-of-town work thing. I’m pretty sure he was just hiding in the RV on the side of their house because, SEVEN KIDS. Mayhem doesn’t begin to describe it.
But back to the road trip. My husband, who does not have an RV for hiding, stayed home to work on very important projects, the kind that don’t involve seven kids. So it was just me, my four children (ages 8 and under), and the wide open road. Or not so wide open, once we reached Houston, where traffic will ruin your life.
Did I mention my best friend was with us, too? She actually got on a plane and flew to New Orleans, just to ride with me to her home in Uvalde. Why she did this, I don’t know, except that she is an awesome friend and also a little cuckoo.
Besides, somebody has to sit in the front passenger seat and climb to the back of the minivan 11 times an hour. This is necessary because a child is always thirsty or hungry or they chewed the wire off their headphones or they dropped their tiger Beanie Ballz thingamabob on the floor for the third time in as many minutes.
Let me just say I would rather punch myself in the face, all the way to Alaska, than be the adult passenger in a carload of kids. The kids are all, “My Beanie Ballz tiger is on the floor!” and there’s my friend, throwing back juice boxes and looking for that dumb tiger and fixing the ancient broken DVD player because the baby won’t stop messing with it.
Meanwhile I’m all, “Sorry, wish I could help, gotta keep my eyes on the road.”
Which brings me to my first bit of road trip advice: Do not road trip with small children without back-up. If you do, you will throw a pack of crackers over your shoulder and miss the 4-year-old, and it will sit there forlorn on the floorboard, just out of his reach. He will weep for the crackers because HE IS SO HUNGRY, but you do not have Go-Go Gadget Arms, sorry.
“I cannot help you. I am driving,” you will tell him, but he does not care because CRACKERS.
But if you’re lucky like me, you will have Caryn with you, and she will hand out the crackers without even throwing them at anyone. And she might even collect the trash into one of the 300 plastic grocery bags you have brought along, because 300 grocery bags are essential for road tripping. For various reasons, including the whole, untouched hamburgers you will later find in dark corners of the floorboard.
“No more hamburgers!” I shouted at the 4-year-old. “You never eat them!” (He really doesn’t. Ever.)
“But I love them so much!” he wept.
Also important for road tripping, in no particular order: snacks, drinks, toilet paper (just bring it), hand sanitizer (goes with the toilet paper), electronic entertainment, and a recent discovery of mine–children’s story-telling podcasts. My kids especially love a podcast called “Sparkle Stories.”
You will also need a generous supply of baby wipes and antibacterial cleaning wipes. You know, the kind you use on your kitchen counters. These will come in handy when somebody throws up in the van, because somebody will always throw up.
“My tummy hurts,” the 4-year-old whined from the third row.
“Oh, he’s fine,” I told my friend. “He always says that.”
“I need to throw up.” His face was turning green.
“I’m pretty sure he doesn’t,” I blew it off, but I couldn’t have been more wrong wrong WRONG, because Caryn was soon shouting, “Bag! Bag! Grocery bag! Now!’
She caught most of it, thankfully, but there was a long stop at a fast food restaurant while I hauled car seats out of the van, scrubbed everything with Clorox wipes, and reinstalled them in the 700-degree heat.
Not to be outdone, on our way home my 8-year-old fell out of his chair at Cracker Barrel (my children are always falling out of chairs), sending his tooth straight through his lip and landing us in a Lake Charles emergency room. All it took was a makeshift straightjacket from a bed sheet, one little stitch, and he was good as new.
We were in and out in less than an hour, just in time to make Baton Rouge traffic. Thankfully my husband had flown into Texas to accompany us on our drive home. Again, I cannot stress this enough. Again, BACK-UP. People, when your toddler is crawling under the bathroom stall of a disgusting roadside bathroom, and your older children are doing God knows what in the candy aisle, you will wish you had somebody, anybody to assist you. You will find yourself handing off your baby to a lady who is a perfect stranger and who speaks no English, but she seems perfectly nice, and you don’t even care because you have to chase down a child who is getting into the wrong red van in the parking lot.
Memories, people. May we mostly remember the good ones, but recall just enough of the bad ones to keep us reasonable and prepared. And by prepared I mean BACK-UP. And grocery bags. One can’t have enough of either.

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