Tips to making sure your next Road trip with a Preschooler isn’t your last.
By Heather Greenwood Davis
An open winding road, the warm wind in your hair, and then it hits you …via a flying juice box from the backseat…this is not your usual road trip.
Things change when you’re traveling with a preschooler and as a result you have to change as well, but that doesn’t mean you can’t survive your next road trip with your sanity intact.
Follow the three “S’s” and your next family road trip can be a little less “crazy” and a little more comfortable for everyone involved.
- SNACKS: They are a preschooler’s best friends! But you don’t want to hand your preschooler a bag full of snack options all at once. Instead keep the snacks in the front seat with you and dole out your choices wisely. Save the prized snacks for when you really need them and start with the less sugary ones to keep blood sugars on an even keel.
- STOP: It’s a 4-hour drive to the cottage? Plan for 8; hope for six. If you’re agitated and in a rush to get to your destination, the kids will be too. Instead of putting the pedal to the metal, take out a map and look at your route with fresh, parenting eyes: Are there parks along the way that might give everyone a break for 30 minutes? Is this a trip that might benefit from an overnight hotel stop? Then watch your child for cues that the ride might be too much. If your child has a meltdown driving to the grocery store, you may want to make stops on a longer road trip frequent and entertaining.
- SURPRISE! : A present? For me? Yup. Nothing says, “I love you, now please play with something” like a new toy! And nothing makes it better and more interesting than it being a complete surprise and wrapped up like a birthday present. And it’s win-win! Your child gets something fresh and interesting to play with and you – if you’ve chosen right – get an hour to breathe and enjoy the ride. Good choices include: single pieces (no multi-piece puzzles or things that will require you bending over and reaching under the seat repeatedly), quiet toys (that tune WILL get annoying very quickly) and toys that don’t require your continued involvement (the more they can play on their own the more you get some time to chat with the other adults in the car or simply relax). Great options include books on tape with a follow along book to keep them interested or a slider puzzle where pieces are stuck to a board and can’t come loose.
Follow the three “S’s” and at the end of the road trip you’ll all be happy, healthy and ready to enjoy the destination together.
Heather Greenwood Davis is a freelance writer currently practicing the three S’s as she travels the world for a year with her husband and two young sons.