The R House has been on vacation. Did you miss me? I wish I could say that I missed you, but, you know, it was a vacation and we don’t really see a lot of those around these parts. I can’t wait to share the inspiration I found in Northern California with you. My creative soul was touched to the point of tears on several occasions. I know it’s nerdy, but I don’t care. I think I finally found my decorating voice. It was extraordinary. Giddiness continues to ensue.
But I digress as I am prone to do.
I wanted to share with you a couple little tips that I discovered for surviving a road trip with children.
Tip #1: Prepare your children emotionally.
My kids knew what day we were leaving for California. We had it circled on the calendar. They knew it was going to be an all-day drive and they knew that I was making secret plans to make it super awesome. They knew this for months.
Tip #2: New outfits are not just for Mamas.
One of the things we told our kids in preparation/anticipation of the long drive was that they would get to wear their jammies all day long in the car. This is something that they rarely get to do. (Although today we are all still in our pj’s.) Since the main reason we were headed to California was because my BIL was getting married and his nickname is Superman, I found darling Superman pajamas on sale at Old Navy a couple days before we embarked on our journey. The night before we headed out, the boys slept in their new jammies–not only was it fun and new, but they were also already dressed when we woke them up bright and early the next morning. They called them the “California jammies!”
Tip 3#: Incorporate Children’s Literature
The night before we left, when the boys were all prepped in their “California Jammies,” we read The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant. I love this book. The illustrations are wonderful and it captures the crazy that perfectly describes when our family gets together. I love that the relatives come from Virginia as that is where both of our extended families hail from. It put sweet dreams in my kids little heads of the reunion that was awaiting them on the other side of this long drive.
Tip #4: Every party needs a goody bag.
The kids were not the only ones that were anticipating our vacation adventure; Mama was looking forward to it too. While at the store a few weeks before I looked for cheap toys and candy for the ride. I pulled a couple items together in a goody bag (sunglasses, lollipops, mints, glow-in-dark bracelets, gold fish, etc.) for the kids and put it in their car seats along with two new movies each ($4 at Walmart) and a new coloring book with fresh pages. You have never seen two kids more excited to get strapped into their car seats for a full day on the road. Sidenote: Those are not curtains you see on the windows of my car. We tucked in those cheap Delta Airlines blankets (which we have a billion of) into the windows so that the kids wouldn’t complain about the sun in their eyes.
Tip #5: Presents help every situation. Amen.
The night before we left, I wrapped presents for the kids so that they could open a present every 2 hours. Between snacks, boxed drinks and movies on our car’s DVD player, they watched the clock until it was “Present Time.” The gifts were designed to be cheap things they could enjoy in the car for a little bit. Each toy was almost exactly the same for each child so that there wasn’t any jealousy. (On the ride home to Utah I forgot how important this little nugget of info was and got Tyson a mini Darth Vader and Gavin a mini R2D2. A meltdown ensued. Learn from my mistakes, people.) Mr. R packed a backpack for each one of the boys which sat between them in the car. The front pocket was filled with snacks and the main pocket was filled with books, their light sabers and the new toys they collected every 2 hours.
Tip #6: Marry a foodie.
Mr. R is a foodie, bless his heart. He did a little research and found the most delicious places for us to eat on the way. This kept us from fast food drive thrus (although we did have a shake from In-N-Out on the way home) and gave the adults something to look forward to. In the words of Mr. R’s Facebook wall, “The pork at Carolina Kitchen and BBQ in Reno is for real. Hidden gem on the I-80.” We ate at The Squeeze Inn on the way home which you may have seen on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. In fact, our whole vacation was full of delicious food, but that is another post.
Also? Pandora’s Led Zeppelin and Adele stations are killer.
What tips and tricks have worked for you on long car rides?