Before we left on our trip, the one thing I was the most worried about was the driving. Since there would be a massive amount of driving, this fear was threatening to grow into an unmanageable beast. I tamed it in two ways: talking myself into being excited for the drive and being prepared with in-car entertainment.
Toys and Games for Preschoolers in the Car
As I packed for our trip, I filled my daughters’ backpacks with a few carefully chosen toys and books to have beside them in the car. Their backpacks are small and hold only one or two books, a pencil case, a small toy, a Waldorf doll and a few doll clothes. This is actually a good thing. More is not necessarily better, especially when you’re in a small space like the back seat of a car. The few things they did have in their bags were inevitably strewn across the back of the car after every session of driving. And having only a few things means they were more likely to actually play with what they had.
The hit toys?
Stickers. If I could do it over again I’d give both girls a blank notebook, a colouring book, a pad of 500 stickers and some pencil crayons. The stickers were a hit with both the toddler and the preschooler, and kept them engaged for ages. Colouring was also popular, and the magnadoodle was played with a lot on the way there but had lost its lustre by the time we were driving home. Stickers never lost their appeal, and we actually ran out of stickers by the end.
Picture books. Claire liked to look at her board books and Bea liked to look at her ballet princess activity book, but the rest of the picture books took up valuable space and weren’t really used much. Same goes for the books I brought to read myself. Turns out we love to read a lot at home, but when I’m on holiday with the kids I don’t get much of a chance to read for myself.
Don’t forget the basics: Food and Water
The first leg of our journey was the smoothest, and this probably had a lot to do with everyone being excited to go to grandma’s house and the novelty of being on holiday. However, I was much more together with having snacks and drinks on hand up front to pass around when needed during the first part of our trip, and by the time we were almost home we had to stop the car a few times to dig food and water out of the trunk. It’s easy to get tired and overwhelmed with the details involved in keeping everything together on a long road trip, but having food and water right there makes everything so much easier to deal with.
Mind Over Matter
Lastly, but most importantly, don’t forget that attitude matters. If there was ever a perfect time to practice mindfulness, a long road trip would be it. No matter how prepared you are, there will always be things that are out of your control. They just are what they are. Someone will spill their juice. Someone will need to stop RIGHT NOW in the middle of nowhere. Deal with what comes as best you can. Peaceful minds in the front seats set the tone for peaceful kids in the back.
Once I was able to let myself be excited for the drive and could list off all the things that were going to be awesome about it I felt much more at peace instead of feeling like some crazy nut parent who was going to snap after refereeing too many backseat squabbles. The kids still squabbled a bit, but I was able to focus on the amazing experiences we were able to share instead of the hardships involved in the drive.