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Are We There Yet?! How To Get Kids To Peacefully Endure A Car Ride

I can remember, back in my college years, how exhilarated I would get when planning a summertime road trip with my girlfriends.

The thought of a car full of classmates tearing along the open road with our feet hanging out of the window, singing along to the radio and sleeping in random hotels along the way, seemed like the very embodiment of freedom.

Nowadays, as I’m sure every parent knows, I associate car trips more with nausea, petty complaints, and drawn-out fights over who’s on whose side of the car.

Freedom doesn’t exactly spring to mind anymore.

But even though road trips with your kids might not allow you the carefree attitude you once had when you travelled, there’s no reason they have to be an agonizing ordeal either. With a little (okay, maybe more than a little) planning and preparation, car rides with your kids can be not just bearable, but all kinds of fun.

1. Plan ahead.
First and foremost, be prepared. Make a list a few days before you leave and add to it every time you think of something else that might come in handy. There’s no such thing as being over prepared.

While you’re at it, this is a great time to take the car in for a quick tune-up. The only thing worse than cranky kids while you’re driving is cranky kids while you’re stuck on the side of the road, waiting for a tow truck.

Time your departure appropriately too. If you need to drive a long distance, plan to leave about 30 min before naptime, so hopefully your baby will sleep a chunk of the way.

2. Bring distractions.
In-car DVD players are a blessing, for sure, but don’t rely on the presumption that your kids will happily and quietly watch movies for the entire trip. They’re going to get fidgety and want some interaction before too long, so make sure to bring along some games, toys and activities.

My strategy with these distraction items is to keep them stashed away until the kids start fussing, and then break them out individually. When they get bored of playing with the iPad, offer up some paper and crayons. When that starts getting old, offer up your camera and let them take pictures out of the window.

The key is to space the items out. If you give them everything on departure, chances are they’ll only play with each item for five minutes before moving on to something else, which will leave you out of ammunition half an hour into your trip.

3. Remember you’re travelling with kids.
As adults, we can appreciate the benefit of getting somewhere in as little time as possible, but for kids, it’s an abstract thought. They want the trip itself to be enjoyable, and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be! It just requires taking some extra time.

So when you’re deciding what time you need to leave, or telling friends on the other end when to expect you, bear in mind that it’s going to take you a lot longer to get where you’re going.

You’ll need to stop every two or three hours, and when you do, your kids will want to run around for a little bit. Look for rest stops or parks along your route where they can burn off some energy when you stop to eat or use the restroom.

4. Never, ever take baby out of car seat.
This seems like common sense, but I’ve heard of many parents taking baby out while the car is moving to try to calm her down.

A crying baby in the back of your car is stressful and aggravating, I know. But stop before you unbuckle your seat belts and think about just how fast you’re moving, and what’s at stake if the unthinkable should happen.

Trust me, it’s ok if baby cries for a while until you make it to the rest stop.

The days of your laid-back, carefree road trips may be behind you, but with a little planning and a lot of patience, holiday drives with your kids can easily pack as many good times and happy memories as the spring break getaways of your youth.

And nobody says you can’t still put your feet out of the window.

If you are looking for a child discipline system for kids aged 2 – 12 to improve your child’s behavior, you can check out Kids: The Manual.

Learn more here.

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Dana’s Sleep Blog

Straight talk about sleep, parenting,
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My blog is a great place to find opinions, advice, the occasional rant, and some great videos about sleep.

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