Since past four weeks, it has been a hell HELL lot of road trips. I am not sure about my husband and daughter but I do not want to even see my car from my balcony. There is nothing horrible than a screaming toddler SCREAMING TODDLER in a car, even if you have to go to a nearby place. Although long road trips are still my favorite thing and I would love LOVE to go with my toddler to someplace beautiful. But this time it was different, it started with my daughter and I road trip with my husband to my in-law’s place for celebrating Durga Puja, which involved daily DAILY outing morning and night to the puja pandals. This made my daughter real cranky and the temperature added some extra crankiness to the situation. Moving on, we were shifting from one location to other (back to Indore AGAIN) that again AGAIN involved long-distance travel plus the shifting to a new place(yes we can now be officially declared as bad parents).
A few months back, I wrote a post about road tripping with your little ones (babies), so I wanted to follow that up with a post about road tripping with toddlers. Since we had enough car travel now, I have learned some basics, here is my take on how to keep calm and sane while road tripping with toddlers.
- Bend the rules just a bit. My number one rule in the car is keeping everyone happy and by everyone, I precisely mean my daughter. Whenever we travel, I don’t hassle about breaking our standard rules. Like allowing some screen time or consuming sugar with a reasonable limit, whatever keeps the peace is thumbs up by me. Since the physical and emotional stress of listening to the screaming in a confined space is not worth it.
- Time your trips just about sleeping. Timing car trips around nap times or when they should be sleeping is generally a good idea. I have shared this earlier too that early morning or drive around lunch or early afternoon is a pretty good time to fall asleep that can last somewhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours. I will never suggest night driving, but if you found yourself in the situation make sure you have comfortable car seats.
- Snacks, more snacks and breaks. Yes, I am SERIOUS!! Snacks are my first line of defense when my sweetheart gets irritable in the car. Lots of variety and mess-free finger foods is the key.
- Bring comfort items. Always keep your child’s special item or two which comforts them, odds are they’ll help in the car as well.
- Have a dedicated car entertainment. Including toys which are only ONLY available in the car is also a great way of keeping the peace. My mother taught me this trick and it worked wonders believe me!! Try to hold off on giving kids toys for as long as possible as it taught them to know how to just be bored in the car. So if our trip is only a couple of hours, these toys don’t come out. You can try this trick at home too, it won’t hurt a bit!!!
- Distract, DISTRACT. All the time I’ve spent in the car with my daughter has made me do “Look, a monkey and a bird! Oh my goodness, a cow too! Ira, check out that big red bus!!! And RHYMES!! This is what currently works well for us is spotting animals, birds and vehicles outside.
- Use electronics as a last resort. If you run out of all the above to keep them entertained for some time and being in a confined space means I have zero worries about my kids’ screen time(PLEASE DON’T JUDGE). It is obvious that they will get car sick more easily, looking at screens sometimes (SOMETIMES coz she has become smart enough to under the situation too!!yeah tell me she is just going to be 18 months old) distracts them from the irritable situation. So if we need to buy 20 minutes to make it to our next pit stop after hours of driving then I’ll definitely pull it out, but only after exhausting all other options.
What works well for you for long car trips? Comment below, I always love learning new tips.