Long car rides are part of the norm around here. The shopping center is 30-45 minutes away, the best doctors are 45 minutes, and family is 1.5-3hrs away. It takes a little bit of planning to spend long periods of time confined in a tight space. This wasn’t an issue for me when we first moved out here, because Emma was older…but going from one to two kids, I had to get with the program and figure out how to travel with kids without going insane. Fast!
Traveling with Calvin as a newborn was super easy. Then one night, 25 minutes into a 2 hour drive home from Merrimack, all hell broke loose. He went through a terrible phase where he couldn’t travel at night because he didn’t like not being able to see us!
As parents, we had to learn to adapt to our little guy’s needs. We tried everything! Bottles, snacks, light up toys, YouTube, leaving the lights on plus doing all the previously listed things. You name it. We have even pulled over for 30 minutes so I could nurse him to sleep, then continued our drive.
The only fix we found for this stage was to plan our trips around his schedule, not ours. We left events early, or stayed past his bedtime so he would sleep most of the ride home. The latter was always risky though, because most times he had a way of knowing when we turned off the highway, and would proceed to scream for 30 minutes, or until we got home (just like his dad used to do!).
Here are some things that work for us:
◇ A change of clothes or two (for you too!)
◇ A variety of snacks so you have whatever they’re in the mood for
◇ Bottles/sippy cups are a great distraction. (Pre-plan potential bathroom stops along your route ahead of time)
◇ A tablet preloaded with all kinds of shows and games they like. (Usually, I’m very scheduled with screen time, but anything goes on a long trip!)
◇ Games like I Spy, What Animal am I? and the License Plate Game are a good way to kill 20 minutes
◇ Pre-tune a Pandora station that makes you feel good and the kids will like too, like Caro Emerald or Fitz and the Tantrums (make sure it’s available in Offline Mode incase you lose signal along your route)
Another tip for traveling with a small child: Don’t stress too much! Your baby will pick up on your anxiety and start stressing out too.