Oh traveling, some die for the long car rides, others like me, dread it. Before I delve in how we survived a 25 hour car ride (That’s without stops guys) with in laws, a dog, a cat, a two year old, and a giant moving truck, lets discuss why I am this insane to take on this feat.
My husband received orders to move us 2 hours from our home town, que happy dance! Downside it is 1700 miles from our current home. Yes you read that right, 1700 miles. We were stationed out in California and have to relocate back to Texas. Now, me being my completely sane self, said eh we can do all the packing and driving, we’ve done it before. Folks, we did this trip four years ago when there was not a child to care for. Car rides are infinitely harder when you add children into the mix.
So here we are, stress levels through the roof because we ran out of space on our moving truck and had to rent another small trailer. These two trailers are filled to the brim. The sad part? We donated probably two 5ft truck beds full before this. This has definitely started my downsizing itch. This will be our fourth move, with every move, I guarantee you’ve collected unnecessary items. I sure have unfortunately.
I figured, we did the trip out here, we can do it again. Which isn’t false, however there are so many more moving pieces now. There are a few ways I stayed sane locked in a truck with two animals and my two year old.
First, before you start having any kind of expectations on schedules, I’m going to stop you right there. Things happen and with long moves like this, something will. I was so schedule oriented, that is until my cat decided to hide out for about 3.5 hours and delaying our trip by 5.5 hours. By hiding out I mean he hid in a hole that he had chewed himself inside the couch. That delay caused us to be up for 24 hours straight. It’s good to have an idea of when you’d like to stop or be places but don’t stress if things go a little haywire.
If you have expectations of a sleep schedule with your child, know it will be altered. Last time we drove this without moving trucks, I’d get so worked up because my daughter wasn’t sleeping like she normally did. News flash to me, car seats aren’t as comfy as beds. This time around, I’m completely relaxed as long as we are in a car. Once we stop, I’m a little more firm since it’s a more controlled environment.
Second, you can entertain your child without a screen. My daughter has watched maybe 6 hours total of tv while we were driving for 36. If you wanna just revert to the screen, Netflix and movies anywhere allow you to download things so you don’t have to have internet.
I entertained my daughter with several different toys but three stood out among the rest. 1. Leap pad 3D: this was purchased with the sole purpose of keeping her happy. It was a little on the pricey side, about $50 without any books and each book runs $7-$9. The price deterred us a bit until it dropped after Christmas by $10 and a lot of the books were on sale since stores had an overstock. We ended up getting quite a few books.
We got: Vocabulary with princesses, ABCs, Numbers, Colors and Shapes, and Mickey and the roaster racers. All the books except the Vocab was within her age group, preschool 2-5, the vocab was kindergarten 3-6. I picked it up anyways since it’s only $3.50 and she’s been obsessed with princesses lately. She has probably spent 5-6 hours just playing with the different books. Completely worth the price and she’s learning too!!
2. Color wonder pages and water wow: this is just a no brainer because what mom doesn’t love no mess coloring? I was able to give her the markers without worrying how marked up everything would be! Plus water wow books dry and can be re-colored!
3. Figurines: we had puppy dog pal ones and princesses. She had little tea parties and all sorts of fun with her figurines.
Some non toy items that got us through was a car seat travel tray that had sides, snacks, songs, and patience. The tray was important because crayons, books, or whatever else I gave her wouldn’t just roll off.
Snacks are a given honestly, what car ride doesn’t include snacks? We used Spotify to create a fun playlist for her that had all her favorite songs on it and we could download it so if we lost service it would still play!
Other options are soft play quiet books, blocks, and magnetic doll sets.
Lastly, the most obvious patience. A year ago I would not have been so chill about her sleep schedule, random outbursts of frustrations, or any other thing. She’s two and car rides are her enemy. She loves running, yelling, and just being well crazy.
A car seat doesn’t allow all that energy out, so we have outbursts of crying because she’s upset she’s in a seat, or bouts of frustration where she throws something. This is all normal and it’s best to just try to redirect it. I tried singing songs, asking her what colors she saw, or really anything to distract her. Long car rides are hard even for adults so for toddlers it’s close to impossible. Patience is your best tool you can have on long trips. These tips will hopefully make it a little more possible for you.
Driving this long is no fun for anyone but with a little patience, and these tips, I hope yours will go as smooth as ours!