How to Survive a Road Trip with a Toddler and NOT Go Insane
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I'm pretty sure there should be a rule that road trips with toddlers should never happen, ever. It's almost as bad as flying with kids alone. But it is inevitable that we as parents will be locked in a car for over three hours with a toddler at some point of our lives. Aimery and I tend to do these often because we live what seems to be in-the-middle-of-no-where Pennsylvania where to get to any large city or beach takes at least two hours of driving. It seems like we are going on a long drive at least once every other week - whether we are heading to the airport or going to the beach. But through it all, I think I have finally mastered how to survive on a road trip with Aimery.
So how do you road trip with your toddler and make it a good experience while not going insane in the process? Here are five tips to help with that.
Let me just say that I try not to be a helicopter mom. And on road trips, I really do try my best to just ignore my kid. This may sound shocking, but in my experience the more I interact with Aimery, the more he wants my interaction. Believe me, three hours in you will hate yourself for singing the wheels on the bus because your toddler now is screaming for you to sing it for the 1000th time.
ALL THE SCREEN TIME
You know how all of us first time parents said we would limit screen time when our kids were older? Let's all just laugh together. I will be the last mom to shame you for allowing Boss Baby or Paw Patrol to be your summer time babysitter. We are all in survival mode here! So, when it comes to road trips, now is not the time to be the perfect anti-screen time parent. Make sure the iPads, tablets, and phones are fully charged and downloaded to the max with every show your child could possibly desire to watch and toss them back at the first sign of fussiness.
SNACKS THAT TOSS BACK EASILY
Fast food can't always be a reliable option while traveling on the road. You need snacks that you can toss back at your kid at a moment's notice. Especially if you are traveling alone with your toddler! Opt for snacks that are easy to open and you won't mind getting all over your kid, carseat, and car floor. I'm talking cheese sticks, pretzels in plastic bags, granola bars... Pretty much anything that isn't capable of melting or spilling. Those apple sauce pouches are NOT an option. Don't ever give your toddler one of those in the car. I like to throw all the snacks into a large container along with books, toys, diapers, and wipes for easy access while driving.
Jif® Power Ups™ Creamy Peanut Butter Chewy Granola Bars and Creamy Clusters are always a go-to for me. I'm all for portable snacks that I can toss in my purse and whip out whenever my toddler (or me) starts getting hangry. They also don't have any corn syrup, so I can feel like a good mom for giving my kid a snack that contains better-for-you ingredients. Also, have you ever met a toddler that doesn't like a granola bar? The next time you are on a Target run, you can pick these up for 30% off with this cartwheel offer. Winning.
STOP EVERY 90ISH MINUTES
If you are driving over two hours with a two year old, then you're going to need to make plans to stop. And when you do, try to stop somewhere that is NOT in the middle of a city and has at least a restroom and space for the kids to play, even if it's just a grass area. I have found that Aimery is able to sit still in a car for a two hour trip to the airport, but once that two hour mark hits, it's game over and he's ready to get out. When I travel alone with him, I will normally find a restaurant with a play place or a park with picnic tables and time our stop for a late lunch/early dinner. Happy toddler = happy road trip.
Really try not to stress, and make the trip as enjoyable for YOU as possible. Listen to what you want (new album, podcast, etc), and get your toddler a pair of headphones to listen to the same Troll's soundtrack for the hundredth time on their own so you don't go insane. No matter how difficult they might be, find that mother's instinct to keep them alive. 😉