Road trip activities that don't involve a screen? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 46 Old 06-14-2011, 01:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm mostly looking for ideas for 1 yo dd. we are buying a used gameboy advance for ds because I'm not willing to fight the no screen time battle on a 1400 mile road trip.

 

So far I have stamping sets for both kids, some kind of magnetic toy (sort of like magna doodle but there's a face that you decorate), stickers and books.

 

I am going to make lacing cards for the kids, but with all the other stuff I have to do I seem to be out of creative brain cells. Any other ideas? we have a netbook and we will probably turn on something for the kids at some point but there's no way it will be sufficient entertainment for 21 hrs, not would I want them watching it for 21 hrs.

 

We're leaving at 10 PM and will stop for breakfast and to run around for an hour or so, then stop again for a late lunch/ to run around, and then hopefully they will sleep their usual 2-3 hr nap in the car, and then we will just have dinner in the car and try to keep them happy  until we get there around 10 that night.

 

All suggestions and ideas welcome.......I'm looking forward to our first real road trip, but 21 hrs is a long time for a rear facing 1 yr old.


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#2 of 46 Old 06-14-2011, 02:58 PM
 
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I've never done a really long road trip, but when driving longish distances, these things have been useful:

-Kid music.  Plain old, "Wheels-on-the-bus" type music. One favorite CD we have is one with songs with lots of hand motions, was like dancing in the car

-Lots of new library books, preferably strong flap books (especially for the toddler, if she doesn't chew them like my son did...)

-bunch of new little objects/toys, different animals, chunky cars

-never did this, but I think it's a good idea --  safe kid mirrors for them to hold and make faces as themselves

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#3 of 46 Old 06-14-2011, 03:13 PM
 
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I agree about kid music. Repeating the same CD they love will most likely make them happier.

 

I think you have a great plan to do a lot of the driving at night. Is there anyway to play with a puppet with her with the way the seats are set up?


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#4 of 46 Old 06-14-2011, 03:28 PM
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I think you should plan to stop more or at least don't hold your current schedule as set in stone. I am worried your partner will get angry with your kids if they act up or need to run around more. 

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#5 of 46 Old 06-14-2011, 05:27 PM
 
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I found some great children's stories as podcasts on ITunes, and burned them to CDs for the kids to listen to in the car.  They love it.  I highly recommend the BigStoryTime.com collection on iTunes - they are read by a little kid who has the cutest voice ever.  You can download the podcasts for free, then save them to an iTunes playlist and just burn to a CD.


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#6 of 46 Old 06-14-2011, 05:32 PM
 
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what about you? wont you need more potty breaks?

 

for your one year old - bottles with different kinds of caps she might try to figure out how to open. 

or even pens. 

 

bottle full of tiny shiny and different materials thing that she can shake (might be noisy for you)

 

all ur junk mail that she can look at.

 

you singing.

 

lots and lots and lots of different kind of snacks they enjoy. different kind of drinks in different cups and sippy and straw cups. 


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#7 of 46 Old 06-14-2011, 05:48 PM
 
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We take a 14-hour trip down the west coast about once or twice a year with DS (now 5) to visit my parents.  We're actually leaving on one of these trips in a couple days. :)  What works best for us is audiobooks.  Our public library has audiobook download rentals for free.  You can download them onto your computer from home and transfer them to an ipod.  Last trip we ended up listening to Stuart Little 3 times!  It really passes the time.  A fb friend also recently posted a link to this website:  www.storynory.com.  It has free audio stories for kids that you can download.  Good luck!

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#8 of 46 Old 06-14-2011, 08:41 PM
 
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By driving all day and night, when are you and DP going to sleep?  I think it will be hard to alternate and keep the kids occupied, in many ways.  I would break the trip up and stay in a hotel, b/c it will be easier on everyone.  If your DP is driving at night and you are sleeping, and then you are driving in the day and he is sleeping, who will be handing things to the kids and such? It's hard to get good rest in a car, IME, and it's a whole lot easier to fall asleep at the wheel if you don't have someone to talk to and help keep you awake.  Plus, the problem is you will both be insanely exhausted by the time you arrive at your destination - and grumpy, I'm sure - while the kids are going to be full of energy after 24 hours cooped up in the car. 

 

Also, I'd invest in a cheap portable DVD player, but that's just me (and we've done a lot of road trips with kids). I know you said no screen time, but your sanity and theirs might be worth giving that idea up, IMO.

 

eta: nm, I see you are bringing a netbook - can you download movies/shows to it ahead of time (I'm assuming it doesn't have a built-in DVD/CD player).


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#9 of 46 Old 06-14-2011, 08:52 PM
 
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I saw this mentioned on a blog once, and have recently found that my kids love this - even the littles:  Pipe cleaners.  They can be bent into people, or just messed around with. 

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#10 of 46 Old 06-14-2011, 09:02 PM
 
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We traveled once or twice a year with my three for 996 miles one way with no screens whatsoever, ever.  yeah, I'm that mom.  My 14 yo ds made his first trip when he was 10 days old(his sister was 29 months). We do audio books, magna doodles, color wonder paper for the non pukers, car bingo, eye spy, and the ABC game (find signs that begin with each letter in order A-Z).  My guys are the best riders ever now.  My boys and I did two massive road trips this year for my oldest son's hockey team and they were the only ones that saw the sights as they zoooomed by - world's largest cow statue anyone?

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#11 of 46 Old 06-14-2011, 09:30 PM
 
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That sounds like you are headed for a miserable experience.  Is the trip for fun or do you need to be at your destination that immediately?

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#12 of 46 Old 06-14-2011, 09:47 PM
 
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Whatever your 1yo likes to do, bring it in the car. :)  It's sooo personality specific what they would enjoy.  We play word games, lots of kid CD repetition (and I also listen to what I like and they nap :)), hot wheels, books, magnadoodle, snacks like cheerios...

 

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#13 of 46 Old 06-15-2011, 02:25 AM
 
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We do road trips often.  My "no screen time" went out the window when my ds was 10 months old and we moved across the country, by car.  I am very screen friendly now and if your kids like watching shows, I highly suggest it for your long trip.  Also, playing video games in the car makes my ds carsick, so be prepared for that too.   Even if tv is outside of how you normally do things, in the car it's whatever gets you thru the trip, yk?  We go visit family 700 miles away.  It is about a 12 hour drive if you mapquest it.  We [i]can[/i] marathon it, and did it when dd was 3 weeks old, and ds was 3 years.  But it is long and hard on everybody and ideally we break it up into 2 days of travel.  And this is coming from someone who has kids who handle time in the car insanely well.  You need to be prepared to stop anywhere at anytime.  Having an idea of the stops you will make is fine, but be prepared to stop way more often than you mentioned originally.  Make the trip itself part of the experience, don't make it all about the final destination.  Have money set aside for a hotel, or two.  Don't eat meals in the car, use it as a chance to get out and let the kids stretch. 


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#14 of 46 Old 06-15-2011, 04:45 AM
 
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Originally Posted by unfrozncavegrl View Post

That sounds like you are headed for a miserable experience.  Is the trip for fun or do you need to be at your destination that immediately?


I wondered the same thing.

 


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#15 of 46 Old 06-15-2011, 06:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unfrozncavegrl View Post

That sounds like you are headed for a miserable experience.  Is the trip for fun or do you need to be at your destination that immediately?



If you don't need to be there immediately you should really REALLY consider stopping more often. Otherwise the trip is going to be hell. Being anti-screen time is all well and good but for a long drive nothing distracts a kid like a movie. It's just that simple. Sometimes our kids happiness is more important than our ideals about parenting...

 

Once again, stopping twice for an hour in a 24 hour period of driving is just not going to cut it. Sorry if that is too blunt for you but I've done long drives with DD, they aren't pretty even when she gets out of the car a lot.

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#16 of 46 Old 06-15-2011, 06:26 AM
 
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I think you might be being a bit unrealistic about how many stops you can get away with.   24 hours with only 2 one-hour stops (I assume you'll have to stop other times for gas?)  with kids those ages is going to be .... interesting.

 

I did a lot of 8-10 hour road trips with my kids, from birth.    Many with only me, no other adult.  And the thing we learned quickly is that you simply need longer stops, and more of them. If they're potty trained, they need to be offered bathroom breaks more often than adults, and those breaks take longer. 

 

At every break, we made a point of taking some time to "shake the sillies out."  Being strapped that firmly in place for that long can result in sore spots, and being unable to move in ways they want to move seems to cause "fidget buildup."   We'd do things like get them to bunny-hop all the way into the bathroom, and we'd all howl at the moon for awhile before we got into the car.  Lots of full-body, gross-motor movement and deep gutteral noisemaking.

 

My kids are older, and really enjoy audiobooks, but I don't know how much that would have helped when either of them was less than 2.    I have a large collection of kids audiobooks -- I check books on CD out of the library and rip them to my iPod.  Many of them are hours and hours long and that really gets you through rough patches.

 

My kids liked having board books and train engines and colored pencils (NOTE:  CHEAP CRAYONS MELT IN HOT CARS!) and paper and cuddly dolls/bears.

 

There's no real panacea for the rigors of a long drive.   My kids were -- and are -- amazingly good travellers, and I still think that 24 hours with only 2 1-hour stops would have been a real nightmare.   Oh -- and actually, trying to eat dinner in the car with a rearfacing 1yo?   Yikes.  

 


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#17 of 46 Old 06-15-2011, 06:29 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We usually stop every hour and a half to pee and stretch our legs. The stops I mentioned were for meals and a dedicated hour or so for climbing around, running, etc. We are bringing DS bike and I'm hoping he will be able to ride it, depends whether we have to take the training wheels off to fit it in the car. I like the idea of pipe cleaners, will definitely pick some up. We can stop at a hotel if we need to but with us leaving at night we will already be halfway there by mid morning. We have driven long distance before but always under 10hrs which doesn't even register on my radar. We always drive straight through except for owe breaks and one longer break to run around.

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#18 of 46 Old 06-15-2011, 07:27 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tjej View Post

Whatever your 1yo likes to do, bring it in the car. :)  It's sooo personality specific what they would enjoy.  We play word games, lots of kid CD repetition (and I also listen to what I like and they nap :)), hot wheels, books, magnadoodle, snacks like cheerios...


i agree. we have done soooo many road trips as well as long distance flying with dd.

 

if i bring along another person dd likes (her extremely social personality) then forget anything else. we once made a 14 hour road trip with only one quick lunch and potty stop when dd was 18 months old. we had to do nothing for dd or even stop to 'shake the sillies out' (LOVE that phrase) because she had her cousin sitting next to her. 

 

on long plane rides - 14 to 18 hours (even though its different than car travel) her backpack full of stuff stayed closed as she hung out with the other passengers even at 8 months old. 

 

and u know what the funny part is. dd cried bloody murder in the car till she was about a year old. 


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#19 of 46 Old 06-15-2011, 08:57 AM
 
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DS loves audio books. You can find them at the library or download them online. It is nice to bring a variety so that you do not get too tired of the same 2 or 3 orngtongue.gif over an over again.

 

Kaleidoscopes are fun to use in the car. 

 

Even when DS was very little he liked to look at flash cards; colors, shapes, etc...

 

Magazines are fun, too. Babybug, Ladybug, National Geographic, etc...


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#20 of 46 Old 06-15-2011, 09:59 AM
 
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I do a fair number of road trips with my kids, who are all GREAT in the car.  I drive the 5 hours to my moms house alone with all three kids regularly, and longer trips with DP. 

 

The one thing that jumps out at me is that your time table sounds completely unrealistic.  For a 1400 mile trip I would budget three days, but it could MAYBE be done in two with a hotel stop in the middle.   For actual hours en-route, you need 21 hours of drive time, plus 3 hours for your long stops (meal time plus potty time plus run around time), plus at least 6 (10 is more realistic, especially if you are pregnant and your 3yo is potty trained) shorter potty breaks.  I'd  figure about 1/2 hour for those, since you'll presumably be changing a diaper for the 1yo, escorting the 3yo to the bathroom, using the bathroom yourself, and jumping around a bit with the kids.  So minimum, that would be 21 driving hours + 3 hrs + 3hrs = 27hrs total.  More realistically (because stuff happens when you travel with kids) you'll be looking at 30-36 hrs.  If you are driving through the night, that means one person is either driving and entertaining the kids or sleeping and entertaining the kids, neither of which is a really great idea.   For a trip that length, I  would really need a stop for the night, even if it's just a cheap motel for 8 hours.  

 

Others have had great suggestions for toys, the only thing I'd add is an AquaDoodle.  You color on it with water and it makes a picture, which disappears when it dries.  It's like $12 at walmart and has provided my DD with many many hours of entertainment on car and plane trips.  It's simple enough that a 1yo could probably play with it.  


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#21 of 46 Old 06-15-2011, 10:39 AM
 
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When my ds was a baby, we were on a road trip that for the trip back home was done at night.  Since it was at night, we had figured that ds would be asleep, especially since we were in the car where he'd be more likely to fall asleep.  Unfortunately, that is not how things happened.  He stayed awake.  Very awake.  Very unhappy and awake.  Seems that the lights from the headlights of the other cars on the highway were falling right into his eyes.  I would have been awake and unhappy, too, in that situation!  I do hope that you don't have that situation, and if you do, you are able to pull over and find somewhere for your whole family to sleep.

 

I second the idea of pipecleaners and a aquadoodle.  A magnadoodle is good, too.  For your three year old, bring along some tape.  It amazes me how long that can entertain a kid of that age, especially when combined with pipecleaners (and straws!).   If you are comfortable with him using scissors in the car (think those plastic safety scissors used in preschools), bring along some old magazines and he can make collages.  I would rethink the gameboy unless your ds already has experience with them only because you may be setting him up for great frustration when he can't do something fast enough in order to get anywhere, or can't figure out how to play the game at all.  Unless of course you don't mind turning around to the back seat every 30 seconds to help him!  nut.gif (BTDT, and almost tossed the game out the window).  

 

I would plan on the potty breaks being longer than a quick in and out.  Your 1yo in particular is going to need it, as there is nothing they like at that stage more than being able to move about!  You will also need to make sure that both you and your dp have the time to sleep so that you can be well-rested when it your time to drive.  Driving while sleepy is seriously not safe for anybody!

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#22 of 46 Old 06-15-2011, 10:45 AM
 
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We've done A LOT of long road trip with our kids, usually 3 or more days (once we did an 8 day trip) and I can't stress enough how awful day two is if you've pulled an all-nighter driving and the kids have slept and are full of energy. By 10 am you will be stabby.

 

We did the all night thing once when our kids were 2 & 3 and I'd rather not go at all than do that again.

 

What worked here was to leave in the morning, around 6 am and drive until 6 or 7 pm with some decent stops in between. ( Stopping at rest stops with greenspace is great, as are McDonald's playlands for lunch) Stay at a cheapy motel, order pizza, run around outside, let your little guy ride his bike around, and begin again the next day.

 

Just my 2 cents worth.

 

Oh and buy a dvd player. You can go back to limiting screen time at home but seriously, save your sanity.

 

 

 

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#23 of 46 Old 06-15-2011, 10:46 AM
 
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I would plan on the potty breaks being longer than a quick in and out.  Your 1yo in particular is going to need it, as there is nothing they like at that stage more than being able to move about!  You will also need to make sure that both you and your dp have the time to sleep so that you can be well-rested when it your time to drive.  Driving while sleepy is seriously not safe for anybody!


Yeah, to all this.  I know with my kids, if even one of them needs/wants to get out when we take a 'quick' bathroom stop, it can take anywhere from 10-30 minutes.  It's not as easy as one adult running in to pee real quick, and all of those stops add up, which is why I would count on the trip taking several hours longer than you plan.  Not to mention any car trouble or otherwise that could pop up. 

 

Whoever is driving first at night surely needs to sleep all day the day before, but I know in reality, and from experience, that is unlikely to work out b/c you will have last minute prepping and packing to do - plus the usual care for the kids. 

 

Honestly, I'd drive during the day, stay somewhere overnight, then drive the whole next day.  that keeps everyone on a normal schedule, b/c otherwise, your kids are likely to sleep in their car seats a bit during the day and keep you up at night when you reach your destination - which will suck if you two adults are exhausted. 

 


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#24 of 46 Old 06-15-2011, 12:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ok so I rearranged the carseats......put ds in the middle and dd on the outside. dd is entertained by songs and stuff and this way I'll be able to sit next to ds and help him with stuff. normally I sit in the middle and I can always move ds back over but I figured this way he could see more also (being able to see between the front seats).

 

Tomorrow afternoon I'm taking the kids out of the house to a bouncy house while SO sleeps all afternoon. Then we are going to a Bible study at 7 PM and then leaving after that. no afternoon nap for them tomorrow. We are lucky in that our kids do sleep in the car. They are both used to overnight trips so that's not new for them. It's the length of the whole trip, total, that has me worried.

 

I will definitely bring some tape--that is a great idea! I found some cheap puzzles for $2 at walmart today and ds picked one out...he has a whiteboard that also functions as a lap desk so I'm thinking he'll be able to put it together on that (it's only about 20 pieces).

 

Oh, and I'm not against the idea of screen time....they will definitely be watching stuff on the netbook. It's just that I know they won't be entertained by that the whole time, and I'd also like for them to have other options for entertainment besides just the screen. Plus, with one rf and one ff I have to sit back there the whole time and hold the thing so they can both see. It can be finagled  to where they can both see but then they reach for it and fight over it. So I just sit there and hold it. Super fun times. lol.


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#25 of 46 Old 06-16-2011, 09:38 AM
 
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Ok so I rearranged the carseats......put ds in the middle and dd on the outside. dd is entertained by songs and stuff and this way I'll be able to sit next to ds and help him with stuff. normally I sit in the middle and I can always move ds back over but I figured this way he could see more also (being able to see between the front seats).

 

Tomorrow afternoon I'm taking the kids out of the house to a bouncy house while SO sleeps all afternoon. Then we are going to a Bible study at 7 PM and then leaving after that. no afternoon nap for them tomorrow. We are lucky in that our kids do sleep in the car. They are both used to overnight trips so that's not new for them. It's the length of the whole trip, total, that has me worried.

 

I will definitely bring some tape--that is a great idea! I found some cheap puzzles for $2 at walmart today and ds picked one out...he has a whiteboard that also functions as a lap desk so I'm thinking he'll be able to put it together on that (it's only about 20 pieces).

 

Oh, and I'm not against the idea of screen time....they will definitely be watching stuff on the netbook. It's just that I know they won't be entertained by that the whole time, and I'd also like for them to have other options for entertainment besides just the screen. Plus, with one rf and one ff I have to sit back there the whole time and hold the thing so they can both see. It can be finagled  to where they can both see but then they reach for it and fight over it. So I just sit there and hold it. Super fun times. lol.


If you are going to be sitting there entertaining the kids, when are you going to get sleep so that you are alert when it's your turn to drive?  Your schedule seems way too tight to me.  


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#26 of 46 Old 06-16-2011, 10:46 AM
 
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My favorite thing was taking a small cookie sheet (or buying one!)  It made a great surface for coloring!   Plus we had to make quite a few bathroom breaks.   DS got to pick a magnet from each state (we drove from IL to key West, FL, plus made stops at Panama City Beach and Disney then back).

And he loved those magic pen marker sets.  He was 3 (and I was prg. w/ODD).

 

I also bought a few small $$ store items (cards, squishy things, stationary sets...etc) and wrapped them and he would get one (a new toy) every so often. 

 

And everytime we stopped, I let him out and run wild.   We played lots of games of tag!   


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#27 of 46 Old 06-16-2011, 04:11 PM
 
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subbing, lots of long road trips and vaca coming!


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#28 of 46 Old 06-16-2011, 05:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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well, we are on the road. We skipped Bible study....we decided the idea of dressing up and then changing afterwards with two cranky tired kids seemed like a bad start to the trip. So we're on the road now. I have my fingers crossed that the kids sleep so that whoever isn't driving can also sleep. I will update, hopefully not with my foot in my mouth about our road trip ambitions, lol. So far transformers and the magnadoodle are doing the trick.


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#29 of 46 Old 06-17-2011, 12:42 AM
 
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Hope your trip is going well!  

 

You've gotten a lot of great suggestions here.  I second the suggestion of audiobooks.  We do that all the time, and my kids love it, especially if they can have their own headsets.  Sometimes we all listen together, but other times they either take turns or we use one of those splitters that allows you to plug two sets of headphones into one iPod.  That way I don't have to listen to Charlotte's Web for the 900th time! :)  

 

 My kids also love art activities in the car.  I recently did a blog post about the activities I made for them to keep the occupied on an 8-hour drive.  It's probably too late to help you out for this trip, but maybe you'll get some ideas for a future one:

 

http://willandkateinluxembourg.blogspot.com/2011/04/how-to-survive-long-road-trip-with.html

 

Good luck!

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#30 of 46 Old 06-17-2011, 06:07 AM
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I know I'm late on this, but when mine were little I always brought a bottle of bubble-soap with us. They loved chasing bubbles at rest stops.

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