A few weeks ago Travis, Lydia, Teresa, and I left the boys at Grandma's and drove to Nashville for my friend's profession of final vows with the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia. The 7 hour drive was done in a little over 8 hours each way and it was really, really smooth.
Before we left I did some research into travel tips for toddlers and I'm so glad I did. We don't have a dvd player in our car and there was absolutely no screen time in the car. I thought I'd share the ideas that worked for me in case they come in handy for anyone else in the future.
#1 Leave the ornery ones with Grandma.
|She fell asleep with her arm propped up like that multiple times.|
Okay, this one is partially a joke, but I do want to acknowledge that 4 year old Lydia and 2 month old Teresa are both really happy, easy kids. Not having super active Bennet and tends-to-whine James made the trip easier.
#2 Activity Binder
Lydia picked out a cheap binder and then, without her seeing, I filled it with the following:
- A map showing our route. I printed it off Google Maps, cut it down to size, and inserted it in the front of the binder.
- A pencil case that had markers, crayons, and a pen.
- Blank paper for her to draw and write on.
Except for the binder we already had these things in the house, I just had to collect them and package them in the new binder and they were then special.
Mom's Minivan has a great scavenger hunt you can print for free. It has a words and pictures so it doesn't matter if your kid can read or not. I still had to help Lydia with it until she got the hang of it but once she did she would proudly check things off on her own. I printed off two, one for each way.
#4 Packages to open
This was another tip I found online. Have a series of gifts to hand out as needed. The gifts don't need to be new - part of the fun is just opening a present for Pete's sake! The gifts I used were:
- Pipe cleaners. This one was suggested on several sites but was a complete dud for Lydia. I tried to get her to make jewelry and different shapes out of them but she wasn't interested.
- Snack necklace kit. Around the time of her afternoon snack I gave her a bag with a shoelace, chocolate covered pretzels, fruit loops, and fudge striped cookies (they are shaped like 'O's). She strung everything together, finished in time for snacks, and munched away happily. I gave her this gift on the way down and the way home and she loved it both times
- Glow sticks. This was the best gift of the bunch. I waited until the sun was setting to give them to her and she had a blast forming them into halos, bracelets, and whatnot. The glow sticks kept her happy for over an hour - I think the darker it got the neater they were so she didn't tire of them too soon.
- Some I Spy books. Lydia already owned them but hadn't looked at them in a long time. The beauty of the I Spy book is that she just has to match pictures, though I did also read them to her, too.
- A rosary. This way we prayed the rosary as a family, asking for safe travels. Lydia even led some of the decades.
These few little tricks made our drive so nice. Our trip was quick - down on Tuesday and home on Wednesday - but we were able to do it peacefully and happily. I hope some of these ideas will help someone else!
|Sister and Lydia.|