Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Road Tripping With a Toddler

And we're off! Leaving Seattle for CA!

I way over did it in terms of being prepared for this year's road trip to California. In retrospect it was really nice how prepared I was to entertain and occupy my little toddler, yet at the same time it was also a bit overboard and some of my methods didn't quite gel with our vision of parenting. For example, I wrapped up a rediculous amount of new to us books so that Micah could open a road trip present regularly in the daylight. I accidentally spaced them out too much though and ended up having a lot left for the road trip home (which actually would have been fine except I forgot which books were Christmas and Hanukkah themed and even though Micah didn't care both holidays were over on our way back, it felt a bit silly to me). We also realized on the drive home that we had totally gone overboard (not just on the road trip, but especially on the road trip) on snacking and eating food in the car. I got special road trip treats like packs of bunny grahams and bunny cheese crackers. On the trip back, Micah really just played with a few key new holiday gifts and just used his imagination and was silly. We borrowed our friends dvd player and checked out way too many dvds than we could watch, which would have been a nice distraction if the stinkin cord hadn't been so sensitive. 

So here are 10 easy ways to make a road trip fun and frustration free for a toddler:
  1. Road trip presents (wrapped new to us books).
  2. Special snack foods.
  3. New holiday gifts like a reusable sticker book, a magic marker book, new crayons and pad of paper, one set of little plastic animals (if we road trip at a time other than the holidays, I usually just hide a few key toys and books for a couple weeks and then they seem new again on the trip).
  4. Stop regularly for leisurely meals (of course it helps stopping at friends or family's houses if possible. We love stopping at my cousin Diane's in Portland). 
  5. Break the trip into chunks (I thought just maybe we would try to just chug on through and have Phil and I trade off during the night, but Micah wakes up during any pit stop and so it just would have been a super interrupted night of sleep which doesn't make anyone happy. So, we stopped at a hotel about half way on both ends of our trip). 
  6. Children's music and kids audio books interspersed with adult music.
  7. Talk and play with the toddler when he is awake and do your own reading or resting when he's sleeping (I read a whole young adult book on the drive down when Micah was either sleeping or watching the dvd).
  8. Designate a driver adult and an entertainer adult (these roles might rotate, yet in our case it just worked for Phil to drive and me to entertain).
  9. Give wiggle room to normal routines (we let the eating at any time go a little too far, yet it was ok to let nap time slide back a few hours).
  10. Talk about where you are going, why, and who you will get to see (Micah loved talking and hearing about all the cousins and family we would be seeing or saw and all the places we'd get to go/went).

wrapped "new to Micah" road trip presents

So comfortable on our leisurely dinner stop with family in Oregon

Of course our road trips to Cali must involve In N Out

Lots of holiday themed books helped pass time

we also remembered to remind him to look at the sights outside frequently too

Sleep wasn't on schedule, but he still got to it!
one pack of little plastic animals provided a ton of entertainment

special "road trip snacks" helped too

Many new holiday gifts like the power tools kept him busy
By the drive back, Micah had so many new toys and just became imaginative and playful, like with his new backpack on his head!

We even had a chance to meet up with our cousins as we were driving the same drive in opposite directions!

The views of course, could be pretty spectacular like this one near Mt. Shasta.

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