"Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house we go"... We all know these familiar words to the old tune, depicting a fun, horse driven sleigh ride through the woods to visit family for the holidays, but what should be a Norman Rockwell-esque trip could quickly turn into a Wes Craven-like nightmare, if you don't prepare accordingly.
Road tripping with kids is not for the faint of heart, but don't let that dissuade you from trying. With a few (common sense) tips, you too can be getting your kicks on Rte 66 or I-40 or whatever road gets you to family this holiday season.
Before you even plan which route you will take, you should get it in your head: this will not be like the spontaneous road trips you took with your girlfriends, in your 20's. Nope. This is your Mama's road trip, literally. This road trip will be full of spilled drinks, impromptu bathroom breaks, hitting, whining, tears and at least five "Are we there yets?".
On every trip we've taken, I always allot for at least this _____ much BS. It's inevitable; something will happen to irk your nerves or ruin your car's interior, so if you go ahead and prepare for it, it's won't be such a huge deal when it does happen.
That being said, be mindful of how you react to simple things like spilled drinks and the extra potty break when you juuust asked if anyone needed to stop. Yes, cleaning up a spilled drink is a pain in the behind, but it is not the end of the world. Remember you were little once too. Don't ruin an entire trip over spilled milk. Bitch about it later, to your partner, like a normal couple.
What?! You say you don't have ESP? Every parent is supposed to have ESP... or so thinks our children. It is your job to plan ahead for any and every situation you could possibly encounter on your journey and pack every single thing they will ask for, especially that one stuffed animal they haven't played with, in at least seven months... yeah, grab that, they will surely ask for it.
Since most of us don't have ESP, you will probably want to make a list. Thinking about how many days you will be gone, you will need one outfit a day, per kid, plus an extra for that one super dirty kid, who always finds a mud puddle to stomp in, even in Arizona.
Other than clothes and the basic necessities (shampoo, deodorant, shaving cream, diapers, wipes, etc), you will also need to remember to pack any medicine or vitamins you will need for the duration of your trip.
Some people suggest using the weekly pill thingies but I DO NOT, they are not safe for children and just because your kids know not to mess with Daddy's blood pressure meds, other kids you may come in contact with, may not.
B.Y.O.S. ... Bring your own snacks. Trust me on this one. A little bit of prep before you go will save you a ton of money and headaches, while you're on the road. Before the trip, ask each child what their favorite snack is, then forget what they say and just buy what's on sale. Take it home and put it in snack size baggies and be done with it.
Entertainment (and noise cancelling headphones) could quite possibly be the number one, most important thing that will keep you sane, when traveling with kids.
When we went to the mountains last Summer, I packed allll kinds of stuff... reading books, activity books, coloring books, crayons, markers, travel bingo and wouldn't you know it; the only things that actually made it out of the backpack were the video games and the tablet.
Lucky for me, this wasn't my first rodeo and I had planned accordingly by adding a ton of Micah's favorite movies to the tablet, before we left for the week.
Think about the electronics you will be taking with you... phone, game boy, cameras, etc. They will need chargers. Don't forget the chargers!!! You can not imagine how bad you will feel if you try to take a picture of little Susie with Great Granny Ethel and all of a sudden your camera says... "Nope, not today. You forgot to charge me!" Devastating to say the least; Great Granny Ethel might not be here next year. (Do people even use Game Boys anymore?!)
When your drunk uncle Fred starts bitching about politics or "the gays" or the immigrants or the price of tea in China; take a second, breathe in, hold it, breathe out, then remind yourself the reason you're all together in the first place and just let it goooooo.
At the end of the day it's really just about making new memories with your kids, whether they be Norman Rockwell or Clark Griswold, they are all worth making. Happy holidays from me and mine to you and yours! May Santa bring you everything you wish for and then some.
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