The hilarity will have to wait for another time because today is Tuesday, time for Tips.
So, it’s vacation time. Ah, the joys of extensive travel with kids. The laughter, the tears, the strong and persistent Braxton Hicks contractions brought on by cramming my second-trimester-pregnant belly into the back seat of a small car, trying to comfort a screaming 18 month old who will not be sedated by the flashing lights on the DVD player because we have conditioned her to never watch more than 15 minutes per day. Oi! Memories……
But wait, since when did this become all about me? Tip Tuesday is about sharing, about community. It’s the one day a week that my blog is supposed to be about all of us, teaching, sharing, helping each other grow. This week’s topic is how to make traveling with kids fun — for everyone.
In the spirit of sharing, I will share one of my own childhood travel experiences, because, after all this is my blog; it’s at least mostly about me. This experience illustrates why I don’t deserve to have a moment’s peace in my road-tripping life as a parent. It illustrates why I deserve to be cursed and why I so desperately need your help.
At this juncture, I will not be offended if you skip to the numbered list of tips at the bottom and then post your own. This story is not for the faint of heart, or really for any decent, non-reality-tv-watching human being.
It was a dark and stormy summer vacation. I was 10ish and the fam and I were driving from Calgary, Alberta to Victoria, BC, camping along the way. The baby was sick. Shortly into our drive, I began asking to use the restroom with increasing frequency. By the end I think I was asking to stop approximately every 30 seconds. (This is not an exaggeration. I vividly rembember pulling away from one filling station and begging my dad to stop at the next one on the SAME STREET.)
My parents drove into a health clinic to have me looked at and it turned out that I had a flaming bladder infection. We got a prescription and continued on our trek in the pouring rain towards BC, camping along the way. Did I say we were camping? Everything was wet (no pun intended). I peed in rest-stops, restaurants, gas stations, bushes, a plastic grocery bag in the back seat of our Chevy Astro Van. (I warned you not to read this)
I cried. I bawled. I whined. The antibiotics upset my stomach so I yorched spaghetti into said plastic grocery bag. My parents deserve a congressional medal of honor for what they went through. After driving for two days, all of our earthly possessions were soaked with rain or other fluids, two of the 5 kids were sick, my uncle in BC said the rain was not supposed to let up for weeks and my Dad decided we should turn around and head home, in the rain. He drove 20 hours straight along some of the most dangerous highway in Canada…with me… in the back… and the fluids.
He patiently stopped for me over and over and over and over and over again. When we got home, they talked about what an adventure it was. We got to eat the individually packed yogurts, Jiffy-Pop and other fun camping treats. It is one of my most memorable and in fact beloved vacations – even though I was sick as a dog and we were never “there yet”. We just turned around and came home.
Some tips from a woman whose mom used to teach classes on traveling with children (Mom, I hope you comment today):
1. Buy a van.
2. Trip presents — small items that the kids get at milestones along the way, every 50 miles, every rest stop, every hour or two. These can be as simple as crayons, a cool eraser, a paper fan or as nice as a new DVD or CD.
3. Coupon books — each kid gets a coupon book full of things like, “pick the next CD,” “pick a song for us all to sing,” “choose the next game,” “switch seats with someone,” “get some extra gummy sharks.”
4. Food — lots and lots of food, special food, food they can’t normally have at home. Try to avoid food that is messy, food that will make your car wish it had never been born …er …manufactured.
5. Games and activities —
I Spy — traditional version or the one where you have to spot something that starts with a certain letter of the alphabet.
Count the cows — count the number of cows on your side of the car. The person with the most wins. If you pass a graveyard on your side of the car, all of your cows die and you have to start over again.
For Younger Kids — we like to play the “I’d be so sad if…” game. This started when Laylee would whine and say she was so sad to get attention. I would diffuse it by saying, “Are you sad because the house is upside down?” and she’d grin and say “Yeah!” and we’d laugh. Now it’s a game. “I’d be so sad if, my teeth were made of pladoh!” Hysterical laughter. Laylee’s turn. “I’d be so sad if the carpet was blue!” Fake hysterical laughter. My turn. “I’d be so sad if there was cheese in my ears.” Hysterical laughter….. This can go on forever.
6. Storytelling tapes and CDs – Great storytellers can mesmerize both kids and adults. Some favorites are Donald Davis, Carmen Deedy, Jim Weiss, Jay O’Callahan, Joel ben Izzy, Dovie Thomason, Bill Harley, Willy Claflin, Syd Lieberman, Kathryn Windham, Bil Lepp. There are tons of excellent ones out there and many of these should be available at your local library.
7. Songs — We got through our rough contraction-ridden ride over the icy mountains last year by singing 800 verses of “Down By the Bay, Where the Watermelons Grow,” after exhausting every song we had ever heard of in our lives. At least that one can go on forever and it’s different every time.
My favorite verse came from Dan — “Did you ever see a gnat with a cocoanut hat, DOW-N by the bay?”
A lot of these ideas are too old for my little kids, which is where you come in. What should I do with them? Laylee is currently getting all four of her 2-year-old molars and is only 60-70% potty trained. Magoo is…….gonna scream.
You can also share ideas for older kids. I’m open. Mine may live to maturity.