Are we there yet?
It’s unconfirmed, but I’m pretty sure that statement entered the lexicon as soon as Karl Benz completed his modern-day automobile in 1886.
It’s summertime, and with that comes good ol’ fashioned road trips. Day trip to the beach. Weekend trip to see out-of-state family. Week-long trip to a theme park or vacation spot.
Road trips are different, I've learned, when you’ve got kids.
College road trips were sought after; they were journeys with the sole purpose of creating memories.
Early marriage drives with your spouse were exciting, as you explored landmarks and picked up–or stopped–whenever you pleased.
And then kids come into the picture. The radio volume has to come down a bit. Or maybe it's the soundtrack to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse that needs to be on loop.
The evading of potholes during an in-car nap for a young one becomes more important than the trip itself. And the distractions. You better be prepared to distract them with all your might.
I learned this firsthand in the summer of 2010, when we attended a family wedding in New Hampshire. Google told us it would take about four and-a-half hours to get there, easily the longest trip we had attempted with our first son.
At the time, Jacob had just turned a year old. He was walking–not well, but mobile–and sitting still for long periods of time was becoming a thing of the past very quickly.
Among the luggage, besides clothes and toiletries, was just about every toy we could jam into our mid-size SUV. Noise-making trinkets and games. Check. Books with never-ending photos of who-knows-what. Check. Portable DVD player. Big, permanent-marker check.
The travel north wasn’t bad. Jacob took a nap–albeit a short one–at the midway point to break up the trip. As the weekend strolled along, Nancy and I conjured up this cockamamie idea that we’d forget about losing Monday to travel, and shoot home after the Sunday night wedding.
Drive through the night, spend the next day relaxing and recuperating.
We thought it was a great plan because we figured Jacob–a very good nighttime sleeper–would be out cold the whole way home.
We hit the road and the little guy was in dreamland almost immediately. Thirty minutes later, he woke up, and I guess the late night driving intrigued him.
It intrigued him for the next four hours, actually.
There was no toy, no movie, no noise that could keep him entertained–and docile–for more than a few minutes at a time.
After battling sleep and a cranky one-year-old through four New England states in the dark of night, it’s a trip that soon won’t be forgotten. If ever.
So, as you head out this week for the holiday, or maybe later this month or season for that memorable family trip, how are you going to tame the kids? How are you going to make it the awesome trip it’s meant to be, rather than the trip from you-know-where?
Looking forward to hearing your suggestions on how to keep the kids calm as you traverse America’s roadways.
Editor's Note: Moms' Talk addressed some of this last summer, when we talked about the best ways to travel with children, and recalled a cross-country flight with a hyperactive toddler. On his site, the Long Valley Patch, there is a suggestion that perhaps traveling on a plane with small children would be easier. Don't be fooled by thinking that would be easy!
Of course, some day they will grow up, and then can take YOU along on adventures. Last summer, my older son led us to a gorgeous, and probably little known beach in South Carolina, where he had attended college. His brother followed up with a suggestion of his own — a summertime canoe trip through a swamp that had us accidentally knocking into a nest of gator babies. Mom was hissing — her own version of "Moms' Talk."
Please let us know about some of your war stories/successes for traveling with kids. And what do you plan to do this summer?
Let us know in the comments section below!