Monday, December 14, 2015

Surviving Long Distance Car Trips with Children

I see so many of my friends talk about their awesome road trip/holiday travel plans. Let’s just get this out there… The Megows don’t plan to have a stress free trip with organic healthy snacks and educational activities. Our goal is to more or less simply survive long trips in the car. I love this quote by Jim Gaffigan.

"Traveling with 3- and 4-year-old boys is like transferring serial killers from a prison. 
You have to be constantly aware."

Now to be clear, this post isn’t about a fun sightseeing trip with fun stops and little surprises along the way. This is about a “Point A to Point B” trip. The “Ok kids, we have 8 hours in this car together. Please no biting. If you feel the urge to bite, just chomp on your own finger. That will curb that desire quickly.” I’m actually pretty laid back and low stress about being locked in a metal box for an entire day with my kids. I think I’m just kind of a realist on this matter. It’s not going to be the best day in the world; however, if I go ahead and structure my thoughts and expectations, it might be kinda fun.

1.  The first thing I have learned is to expect my car will end up an absolute wreck. I love how everyone posts the car selfie of the family loaded up and headed out towards their destination. I’m guilty of this too. But I would love for people to do a before and after shot of their car on a long ride in the car with kids. Actually, let’s break down a photo I posted recently of a somewhat long drive in the car.

 Ok. This is clearly at the beginning of the trip. Look at my beaming smile. Hahaha.  Let’s look a little deeper on how this picture would have changed if it were a “just pulled in the driveway” after picture. See the empty space between Stevie and Neela in the back, that would have been filled with a giant pile of cracker wrappers, ripped coloring book pages, a upside down and spilt bottle of chocolate milk, 2 frogs, and possibly a few drops of blood if the fight over the sticker page escalated enough before I could intervene.  Do you see Titus’s clean face? Well, that would be replaced with a delightful smearing of a variety of every type of food that he refuses to wipe off because he is “saving it for later”.  Olive would no longer have her pink Minnie Mouse toy in her hand. It would currently be wedged between her car seat and the door. Since dad probably has a hemorrhoid forming from sitting for so long and the sheer stress of dealing with this trip, he didn’t feel like stopping to get said toy, she Olive has been crying the last hour of the trip.  

2. I am about to spend a crap ton of money at gas stations. Seriously though, I do pack a TON of healthyish snacks for about every trip we go on. 

My personal favorite car food.

Especially on a holiday road trip, you know your kids are about to eat nothing but gingerbread houses and Reese’s Christmas trees for the next few days once you arrive at your location. So getting some fruits, veggies, or something somewhat healthy would be excellent right?  Well unfortunately, my children have the appetite that little hot dog eating competition dude. 

"Dad! All you packed me was a bag of pretzels, two bananas, and granola bar?!"

About 45 minutes into the trip, they have eaten the entire days’ worth of snacks. So at our first gas station fill up, I let the kids pick out their own drink and a snack to share with their little seat buddy (Stevie/Neela & Titus/Olive).  My kids are convinced gas station snacks taste better. I think they can just taste the money. Hahaha

“So let’s see… 2 milks, 2 juices, 1 coffee, and 2 bags of chips. Ok that will be $28.45”

3. I am the sole source of sanity of every human in the car. Hahaha. My kids don’t do those little activity books, watch movies, sing songs for over 3 hours. You can load up every movie in the Disney arsenal, and you’ll still be having to entertain those little guys in the back. I know it’s not my job to entertain them for that long of a trip, but if I hate it this much, I know they hate it five times worse. We’ve actually spend a lot of time of the road just me and the kids. Knowing that the kids will probably kind of go out of their mind without your guidance is a good motivator to make it fun. I like to switch it up, making up songs about farts, then telling jokes about farts, then actually farting, back to some fart songs, then maybe mix in a few stories about “The fart who lost his way.”


 4. This is probably the biggest thing I have to come to grips with in my mind, my kids are going to climb their way over the mounds of trash looking like cast members of Survivor. With Christmas coming up, family will be so excited to see the kids when we pull in the driveway. I will give this disclaimer before I open the van sliding side door and the kids & trash kind of ooze out of the door, “Unless you want your shirts to be covered in ketchup and blue raspberry ring pop slime, you probably need to let them bathe or maybe just stick to a high five.” Seriously, I had no idea a human could get so sticky and filthy from sitting in idly in one seat for most of the day. In my mind there are four types of clothes in the hierarchy of dress:

I) Church Clothes 
“Look your tights match your dress!!”

II) School Clothes –
“You want to wear that? Your clothes don’t match... but they don’t smell bad. I guess you can wear it; however, if your teacher says something, just say your dad thought it was "Tacky Day" at school .”

III) Play Clothes – 
“No. I guess you don’t have to wear underwear.”

IV) Long Distance Car Trip Clothes – 
 “Wear whatever you don’t like because I’m just going to burn it all once we get there.”

I mean the only way I can describe lifting Olive out of a car seat after a long trip in the car is like peeling off a plastic Band-Aid after showering with it on. It’s not exactly stuck to your body, but it’s clearly adhering and is just kind of gross and goopy.  Also like a Band-Aid, dampening the general area will do wonders for the removal. Honestly, the last time we took a trip in the summer, I purposely put swimsuits under all of my kids clothes. That way right when we got to our location, they could strip down right by the car and jump into the pool; therefore cutting down on the amount of elbow grease I would need to remove the Laffy Taffy stuck to Neela’s chin.

Be Blessed,

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