Friday, August 12, 2005

Long in the seat

On any long drive, every family reaches the point where all the movies, books, singsongs, Game Boy games and snacks are no longer enough. All that will satisfy your little people is being able to run around their grandparents' house before tucking into a warm bed with the rest of the brood.

Here, Zach's face clearly asks the question, "When will we be there?" What he didn't appreciate at the time was the fact that my wife and I were asking each other the exact same thing. Even we get sick of the long haul after a while.

Your turn: How do you make long drives manageable for your kids? What works? What doesn't? (And if you want to share a long-drive-horror-story, I won't complain...I know we all have 'em.)


catherine ryan said...

I can't offer any advice because I don't do the long drive thing. I'm just going to pat you on the back for suffering through it. It's one reason we don't go anywhere!
Can you imagine what our parents went through, though, before gameboys and in-car DVD players??? These kids just don't know how good they have it.

sophie said...

No kids of my own, but I remember a VERY long drive with my sister and my niece where the toddler was angry and it took MANY verses of "This Old Man" to lull her to sleep.

Here from Michele's.

Mrs. Fun said...

i leave early in the morning. I like to be out of my garage by 5:30AM. They sleep for 2 hrs untill we stop for gas and breakfast, then its a movie,some snacks. I also bring a backpack of toys that they only get on these trips. It makes for great fun. We also put on some rockin music and see who can dance the silliest while staying buckled.

Destiny Anne said...

hey carmi, michele sent me.

Kross-Eyed Kitty said...

Hey Carmi, thanks for the comment on my blog, it was a nice surprise this morning!
I don't have kids, but every weekend we take the kitties up to the trailer with us. The Siamese does the usual Siamese thing and howls for pretty much the whole hour and a half it takes to get there. And, of course, you can't reason with a cat, offer them a game boy, dvd etc. So, we turn up the radio until we can't hear him anymore!
(I'd make a terrible parent, wouldn't I?!)
Congrats on the article in the Globe!

PresentStorm said...

lol We took a trip from Texas to My hometown in Kentucky which was about a 20 or so hour drive ..We keep telling her that if she slept it made the trip go faster ..So she tried staying asleep most of it We also brought her Simon game and some flash cards and stuff ..She had some math flash cards that you can write on with a dry erase marker that comes with it ..We played school for a lil while also ..She did extremely well though ..We were actually surprized .

Beanhead said...

We make sure to stop at least every two hours and we make sure we stop somewhere kids friendly. I would rather add a couple mins of free running time to the trip than hear I'm bored or when are we going to be there fifty gazillion times.

Anonymous said...

We did the mother of all family road trips last summer: a 6-week, 14,000 mile journey across North America.

(you'll find a recap here.

We had two kids and two dogs with us, and my do I have horror stories to tell. But instead I'll share the ideas we had that turned out to be life savers:

- Kid's atlas. A big one. Each state we went through, we had my oldest son (13 at the time) read out loud the chapter on that state to all of us.

- Audiobooks and headphones (or no headphones).

- For older kids, a laptop or PDA with navigation/map software so they can be designated navigator. Then ask them to do cool stuff like find and "pushpin" ALL the Denny's diners along the whole route.

- Before leaving, have the kids themselves research the areas you'll be traveling through and pick out things THEY want to do along the way. Ideally, this'll be stuff that wears them out.

- Leave later in the morning and drive later into the evening, if that fits your schedule. This helps everyone relax and enjoy breakfast, have the ability to explore the areas you're stopping before you leave, and results in less "awake" hours in the car -- as my kids, at least, fall asleep very easily as evening/night falls.

Christine said...

The best thing we ever did was get a vehicle with a DVD player! I'm not a fan of sitting my kids in front of the TV for long periods of time, but in a situation where they are stuck in their seats, and not entertained by conversation and scenery, I think it's a great way to help pass the time for them!

I also always try to travel at nap time when I can, so they will sleep at least part of the way.

Rachel - Wicked Ink said...

As kids we were trained 'car-sleepers'. Any trip longer than 15 minutes and we were out!

This worked well for my parents, until we moved to England. My dad went first, found us a place to live, and then we joined him a few months later. On the trip from the airport he was so stoked about showing us all the sights, and there we were, fast asleep. Of course, that could have been jet lag.

We are still 'car-sleepers' as was proven this spring when my dad drove my brother myself and my son, down to the coast for our grandfather's funeral. We slept most of the way.

Carmen said...

How to travel with kids?


At least, now. We've officially got too many kids to travel with - my nerves are shot going to the next city with all of them; I can't imagine a drive that crosses state lines.

BUT, we've done the following:
Leave very very early - didn't work as the kids woke as soon as we put them in the car and refused to go back to sleep.

Leave late in the day, stop for dinner and hope that they sleep while we drive most of the night - not so good as The Hubster has a bad habit of falling asleep at the wheel

Pack DVD's, gameboys, books, puzzles, window clings, car bingo, car checkers, multiple other car activities - good for about 4 hours.

Your son looks exactly like you!

Moogie said...

Portable DVD players. Best thing we've ever invested in.

Then, get a bag/box/basket/some time of holding device, and let the kids pick out some toys. Let each kid pick out the toys they want to bring. The catch is, they have to fit in the box. In the beginning of the trip, let them pick out a toy (it can be a game as well)..only one. At each stop (gotta love rest stops), after they have done their obligatory run around the area several times, let them put that one toy back in the box, and pick out another one. Only one. Do this at each stop.

Snacks. A must have. Arm yourself with a bunch of baggies. Fill the baggies with a snack size amount of crackers, chips, popcorn, what have you. Dole the snacks out over a period of time. Space it out so that they have to wait a while in between snacks. Tell them, "when we get to so and so, you can have another snack...or, at such and such o'clock, you can have another. You get the picture. It will settle them down and cut down on the whining.

We always have big cups (with lids) of water to take on the trip. Each child has their own cup. Or, freeze some bottled water the night before. Makes it last longer and the kids can work on getting it melted.

CD players...and lots of kid's CDs. My kids love music, so they love to listen to it and sing along. Be prepared might have a lot of singing in the back seat..and everone is singing something different, but at least they are not fighting.

Does this work all the time? No..but it sure does help. Sometimes, depending upon how long the trip is, we do all of it..or just some of it. There are always times that they are squabbling though..but these kind of help minimize them in my family.

Tammy said...

The last long drive we went on, hubby set up a 13" tv and a dvd player. It looked kinda weird, but it helped occupy the kids.

Great pic of your young'un! :)

Steph said...

I bought my girls their own personal CD players and it changed my life! They actually don't bicker anymore in the backseat, get to listen to what they want and it actually keeps them busy for hours, and I get to listen to what I want on the radio. I also play the "I Spy" game and they still love it.
One thing I was able to cut out was the "How much longer until we get there" question. Every time my kids ask that, I say, "Oh...About 20 minutes." I say that whether we're 5 minutes away or 5 hours, but they know what the answer is, so they just don't ask it anymore.

Heather said...

We just got back from a road trip. It helped to let the cousins ride with us part of the way. Then all the kids kept each other entertained.

Anonymous said...

Hi Carmi. Michele sent me! But I love your site anyway....

We live in Minneapolis and often travel 11 hours to central IL. Our Sweet Girl is a wonderful traveler. We can't afford a DVD though. We leave at 4:00 in the morning so the first 2-3 hours go by in scilence. After that there is the leap pad, the magna doodle and music. She never gives us any trouble and we spend the entire trip thanking God that she's being so good and praying it continues!

chatty said...

No kids. But wanted to say your son is a cutie!

Michele sent me

The Mistress of the Dark said...

When I was little (because I don't have kids) my parents made sure we made plenty of stops on the way. It broke the monotony of the trip. That was back before DVD players, game boys etc...

BTW, Hello, Michele sent me.

Tracy said...

Hi Carmi, Michele sent me. I don't have an answer, as I don't have kids. As a child myself, I got extremely restless on roadtrips. The only thing that really helped is when I was able to sleep the majority of the trip.

Melody said...

My daughter is only 11 months old so she still sleeps in the car when we go and visit my parents (who live like 2 hours away from us!) Otherwise for entertainment I gather a bag full of her favourite toys and hand them back to her each time she complains...

I am here via Michele's M&G today! (and BTW your son looks just like a littler version of you! LOL!)

princssis said...

Hi Carmi - Michele sent me.

I have to say timing the trip so the kids sleep at least part of the way helps. My hubby will entertain our 8 yo son by playing rhyming games, and giving him math problems. Once, he gave him a ridiculously (sp?) difficult one - it took him a while, but he got it right!
As a kid, my mom would play "Hooked on Classics" or "Hooked on Jazz" music. There was one tape that was especially upbeat and we all were "singing" along! I think it also helped to keep mom from falling asleep. THanks, Carmi - I had forgotten about that memory!

princssis said...

Oh, I forgot to say that my 16 mo. old will quiet down to "Itsy Bitsy Spider" - we had to sing it for the last 20 minutes of a 3 hour trip recently!

vegemiterules said...

G'day Carmi,

What a lovely photo, says so much.

I have to bolt Carmi, will be back soon I hope.

Take care