The girls and I arrived in North Carolina a week ago to visit with my family. I decided (somewhat unilaterally) that I would make this trip alone...for the first time. Until this visit I had either had my mom fly in and drive me back with Nate getting us back home or vice versa. They might have thought I was crazy and they definitely asked me if I was sure more then 12.23 times. I was determined. In our current life situation I have to be able to do most things on my own so this was no exception in my mind. I am happy to report that the girls did great. And once we arrived safely I got the same question over and over. "How did you do it?" Interpret that the way you wish. It was probably meant in many different ways. So, I thought I would give you glimpse of just how I did it. I scoured the internet and Pinterest and gathered the ideas I thought would work best for my girl's ages. As I worked on putting it all together in the week leading up to our trip, and the night before when I organized it all by the door, Man had only one thing to say, "Oh my word. You have gone all Martha Stewart on them." I took that as a compliment. ;) I am confident that this effort really did help all of us have a pleasant trip. I will definitely do this for future trips.
From many years of traveling and millions of miles covered in a car, here is my best piece of advice. Don't use all of your tricks in one day! It is hard. Especially if they run out of things to do. So, my plan this time was to find things that took up a lot of time. Here we go.
This box rode in the front seat beside me. These were items that I wanted to regulate, most of them were Allye's. Electronics were definitely with us, but were not going to be used heavily. Turns out, they weren't used at all. That is when I know I did something right. See the little bunny container? That is what you need when it all begins to fall apart. Skittles and such. Works like a charm. Especially if you are 21 months old, need a nap, and haven't had lunch.
All three girls had one of these. 7 items + 7 slots = Lots of Sorting Fun!
I timed Olivia's turn at sorting to make it more challenging, which meant I had to get a lesson on where that fancy feature was on my phone. Man took care of that before I left. He might have rolled his eyes when I asked him if my "smart" phone did this. Addison simply sorted away. Allye decorated the car with her items. I did not care one bit. Happy Baby = Happy Momma.
She got the biggest kick out of the box below.
She has pulled more wipes in her 21 months then either of the other girls did combined. Her arms are a mile long and she can get to anything. She got a good laugh out of this one. Then she just started opening the entire lid and pulling it all out at once. Must work better for a younger, not so experienced wipe puller. ;)
I hardly ever throw away a paper towel or toilet paper roll. Lots of projects call for these free items but this might be my favorite so far. Olivia's rolls had addition and subtraction problems written all over them. I wrote the answers on the colored dots and she had to match them up. Addison had to match the upper case letter on the roll to the lower case letter sticker. If I did this again I would make two separate rolls for her. It was too crammed and busy for her eyes/mind to be able to focus. Her other one was just a simple shape match up with a shout out of the shape as she matched it. Allye's roll was blank and she was handed a sheet of tiny colorful stickers. You should see her carseat! Happy Baby = Happy Momma. This was her favorite activity and kept her busiest the longest.
Then there were The Books. I did not use these until the second day. I made one for each of the big girls and allowed Allye to watch some of her favorite learning shows.
Each of them were given sticker books that taught them different things. This was Olivia's. I found them at the Dollar Store awhile back and picked up one of each type. After matching all of the stickers there were crossword puzzles and other games, more appropriate for Olivia. Addison matched up all of the stickers in hers and then Olivia helped her with the games. I loved that part...the helping part...so sisterly.
The rest of the games I printed off were enclosed in a clear protector so they could be used again. Above was the license plate game (their favorite). We are still searching for a few. Below are a few other games I found.
This game required Olivia to write down the letter from a license plate and then create two words using those letters. For Addison it helped her work on penmanship.
The license plate number game had Olivia write down the numbers from the plates and then add them together. A white board marker and half of a magic eraser allowed her to quickly erase and play over and over again. Addison simply practiced writing her numbers.
Snacks. The thorn in my side. There is something about traveling in a car that makes my kids think they are hungry all.the.time. Admittedly I have programmed their bodies to need a snack as I have always taken an approach of not perpetuating over-eating at meal times. This was the first time I have used this idea and I did it so that there were options and so I wouldn't be trying to fix snacks while driving.
I used this little box in case there was a time I had to hand it to Olivia. They would be contained and easy for her to find. Beyond that this is how I did it. I had Man create two bags for each girl, for each day of travel...12 bags for this trip. Then I placed a sticker on each bag to represent who the bag belonged to.
For this trip, Allye's bags would have all bears, Addison's all ballerinas, and Olivia's would be marked with stylish girls. They loved it and it did make it very simple. They saw all of the options from the beginning and decided accordingly at each snack time. This is the way to go. Let me repeat. This is the way to go. No one is needing to see every option, hold the snack bag themselves to see what you just told them, beg for something else...etc. This was it. Period. Then I wonder why a genius solution has to come almost 8 years into parenting. Whatever. I will take it.
Well, there you go. This is what kept my girls busy this time and it worked very well. I would almost stick my neck out to say it was the best trip in the car we have ever had, but then that would mean I will have the worst ever in another week. So, we will go with this was a v.e.r.y. good trip. So, so, so good I pulled off and we toured the Coca Cola store twenty minutes before our hotel. Allye enjoyed it the most.
--The Traveling Mama