We’re back! We had a wonderful, whirlwind trip to Long Island for my sister-in-law’s surprise 40th birthday party. It was a super quick trip – Friday to Sunday – but it was great to see the family and my girls had a fantastic time with their cousins!
This was a big trip for us, because our 18-month old daughter has not been on a long trip like this since she was 6 months, and she is MUCH more wiggly now!
Years ago, I started a little tradition of putting together a special bag for my girl for the trip. I pick up a few inexpensive things that I know she will enjoy and that will keep her entertained in the car. Sometimes it’s a Polly Pocket, stickers, maybe a new book. One year I bought an inexpensive “lap pad” for her to put on her lap and have a flat surface to color or play on – she loved that and still uses it. I also put in a few snacks for the car – those little grab-bags of Goldfish crackers, cookies, etc. And I put in a few things that she already has from home that might entertain her in the car – more books, markers, her Gameboy, things like that. Just looking through the bag to see what surprises are in there is entertaining to her!
In addition to her Gameboy, she has a Leap pad and a Story Reader with a number of books that “snap” in and as you flip the page, the Story Reader reads the story to your child. This was particularly fantastic before our girl learned to read! I think the biggest hit in her bag this trip, were “Window Markers” that I found at Target. She was able to draw pictures and write messages on her car window and then just wipe them off and start all over.
For our youngest girl, I haven’t put together a bag yet, but I did bring her a new board book that I picked up for $1 at Target (GREAT deal!) – it was about bath time, and it had a picture of baby Elmo (or “Melmo”, as my little sweetie calls him!) and every time she sees that picture she squeals with delight! I had a few other board books and some toys for her that I kept up in a bag in the front seat with me, so that I could pass things out periodically when she seemed to be getting bored and antsy.
We try not to stop too often – it just makes the trip that much longer – but we do stop at a couple of rest stops along the way and at least once we all get out and run around a little to “get the wiggles out” as my older daughter says!
Another thing that we worked out years ago with our older daughter was music! My husband and I love lots of different music, and enjoy listening to cds in the car. But we don’t enjoy listening to 8 straight hours of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” or various other nursery rhymes… We have some nursery rhymes and some Disney classics on tape, and a friend of ours gave us the “For the Kids” cd from the VH-1 Save the Music project – that one has more popular artists (Barenaked Ladies, Sarah Mac Lachlan, etc.) doing their versions of kids songs. That is such a great cd because our daughter loves it and it’s enjoyable for us too! I have also made a couple of mix cds with current Disney songs that my girl likes – High School Musical, Hannah Montana, etc. And those are all upbeat and not as “sing-songy” as nursery rhymes so we parents can tolerate them too! Anyway, we all get to take turns and choose a cd or tape to listen to, and we rotate so that everyone gets a chance to hear the kind of music that they enjoy.
Now, I will admit, that we had the ultimate luxury for our road trip this time (ok, “ultimate” would be a LIMO with someone else driving, but still this was great!!) – my mother gave us a portable dvd player with 2 screens for Christmas this year – thanks, Mom! And this was really great for the girls! They were each allowed to bring a few dvds and they took turns watching their “shows.” They didn’t watch the dvds for 8 hours straight, and they each still took a nap at one point or another, but it was really nice to have the option of the dvd player this time! Especially when we were getting close to our destination and our youngest daughter felt she was done riding – a Sesame Street dvd or Curious Buddies dvd was the perfect thing to entertain her so that we could just push on with the drive!
As a side note, my girl and I are big Laura Ingalls Wilder fans, and on our trip this past weekend I couldn't help but think about traveling back in the times that her books were written. I can't imagine how people managed back in the days of covered wagons! My daughter LOVES to play “I Spy” in the car -- what could you spy on the prairie? “I spy with my little eye, a blade of grass!” Those were simpler times, but I after an 8-hour car ride I thank heaven for portable dvd players and window markers! ;)