Monday, September 3, 2012

Road Trip - part 3 (entertaining the kids)

Last month, Kevin and I loaded up our van with suitcases, food and stuff to entertain the kids so we could travel from PA to WY and SD to visit family and see the sites.  We logged 5300 miles and 75 hours in car.  

You can see how we planned and packed for the 17 day trip in PART 1 of my road trip series HERE.

And how I tried to make eating in the van as mess free as possible in PART 2 HERE.

Today I'm going to share how we kept the kids entertained.  This is a critical part of any road trip with kids, especially if you want to maintain your sanity or go on future road trips. 

We  have three kids ages 9, 7 and 22 months.  For the older kids, I told them they could take 1 backpack full of toys.  Of course I had a say in what they took and added a few things I thought they'd enjoy.  For the Babes, I had one of those market totes full of toys.  Since it's open I could easily reach a toy to give to her.  The backpacks were kept at the older kids feet.   I also brought along a plastic white tray with 'pockets' on the sides to be used as a drawing or eating surface.  I thought that tray would be a great idea but in reality it wasn't used much and took up a lot of space and was hard to maneuver from the back row to the middle row of seats.

The kinds of things in the older kids backpacks were:
books they like to read and some new books,
coloring books,
Nintendo DS video game system with extra games,
MP3 player,
pencil case with colored pencils, pencil sharpener and erasers.

** I chose colored pencils rather than crayons or markers because I thought they'd be the least messiest.  Crayons can get lost in the car and with the heat can melt and get stuck somewhere.  Markers can leave marks on the upholstery which may or may not come off.

We also had a DVD player and I packed an extra box of toys for the Babes, and some new maze and hidden picture magazines for the older kids.  These items were strategically handed out such as when the kids whined/cried/complained/fought.....

I also made what I thought was the greatest road trip toy ever.  I imagined this would keep the Babes busy for long periods of time, but in reality she hardly played with it.   It was one of my old purses that had lots of storage compartments and zippers.  I loaded it up with cards and small toys for her to find and play with.  And even though she loved taking cards in and out of a play wallet, this play purse was not her thing.

About 10% of the trip was like this:
Which wasn't bad in my opinion because about 10% of my day at home with her looks like that.  It was exhausting trying to get her to be happy or at least stop crying when she was in one of these moods.  Playing "peek a book" and "this little piggy went to market" along with tickling and distractions like "is that a cow over there" worked most of the time.  And some times all she wanted to do was watch the one and only Elmo DVD that we had.  If I'd have know what an Elmo fan she was, I would have gotten more Elmo DVD's to bring along.  

And then there were times I thought I was in road trip heaven.  I'd look back at my kids and see this glorious scene:
The Babes peacefully sleeping away while the two older kids silently read.   

As you can see from the above picture, we had out van loaded full with stuff.  Lots of toys and food to keep the kids quietly entertained during the trip.  When we got home and unloaded the van, Kevin couldn't believe how much stuff I had packed in there.  No wonder the kids could barely move or find anything.  I'll admit I did over packed and did bring too much stuff, but I just wanted to be prepared.   

And for how we'd hand things back and forth to each other, I made this pulley system:

It's that pink bucket just to the left of the Babes.  There is a piece of yarn that goes from the front passenger handle thing in the ceiling to the 3rd row handle.  I found this ingenious idea from Rachel over at Kids Activity Blog.  Click HERE for her version.  Full discloser:  My version didn't work that well and was taken down after a couple of days.

Overall I'd say our road trip was a success.  I'd do it again in a year or two so that makes it a success in my book.  The older kids did great, very little fighting or complaining.  The Babes was our challenge and we knew that going into this trip.

Most of my ideas I found through Pinterest. You can check out my 'road trip' board on Pinterest HERE.

 Anyone else have some great road trip ideas for staying sane / keeping kids busy. I'd love to hear about them since I'm already thinking of going on another (not quite as long) road trip next year.

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