We have been on the road for a total of 24 1/2 hours, but who's counting? This is the first time we have taken a true road trip with with our kids for distances longer than two hundred miles. It's tricky, this road tripping with kids. Here are some things I'm learning as I go.
1. Don't expect too much from your kids. You know your kids. Can they skip a nap and it is no big deal? Skipping a nap in our house means a guaranteed meltdown from 5:30 on. That's no problem if you don't mind doing dinner with 3 kids under 5 at a sit down restaurant at 7:00 p.m. while one screams maniacally. Can your kids share a hotel bed? We learned the hard way that Nate is a light sleeper who wakes if you flip over. Hello, late night and my apologies to the people in Room 208 and Room 212.
2. Stop often. We all know that your father wouldn't stop even for a bathroom emergency. This is your opportunity to be the cool parent who stopped to see the world's largest horseshoe crab or Truckhenge.
3. Be realistic with your travel goals. Calculate time to your destination and then multiply it by 2 if your kids are little. In the days before kids, I would take my total miles to my destination, divide it by eighty and then add 5 minutes for each fill up of the tank. Believe me when I say that eighty was a conservative estimate. Now? We'd be lucky if we average fifty miles an hour on a highway trip.
4. Pushing them too far will cause more problems than you already have. Do not wait for the baby to get too hungry. Trust me on this one. Now you have a very hungry AND very angry baby that will require more than food to feel better.
5. Use absolutely every stopping opportunity to get some energy out. Pick a gas station that has a patch of grass to run relays. Stop at a restaurant with a kid's play area. Stop at a mall. Just having them walk from one end to the other could tire them out enough to buy you some sanity until the next stop. Stay at a hotel with a pool and have swim races. We spent last night in a hotel with a water park inside. They were exhausted by bedtime. Not that they fell asleep in a timely fashion but I like to think it was better than having nothing.
6. Try to get them to bed at a decent hour if your kids aren't car sleepers. Only .00001% of the population has kids that sleep later when they go to bed later. If those are your kids, we envy you. Our were up at 5:30 this morning. Even with all of us going to bed at 9, I still feel like stabbing my eye out with a fork this morning. I think it has something to do with kids getting up during the night because they were in an unfamiliar place.
We are off to the pool and then back on the road. Pray for me. Seriously. And please do regale us with your road trip tips or horror stories in the comments!