Pumpkin had Fall Break a couple of weeks ago so I decided to take the girls to Southern California to visit family. It was our first solo road trip without Mr. G beyond state lines, and I was surprised at how well it went with a 4-year-old and almost 2-year-old.
I attribute the successful drive to a few things:
Unlimited screen time
I had borrowed a DVD player from a colleague and gave it to Pumpkin when her sister fell asleep. She watched two movies on the drive, and Peanut isn’t used to watching TV so even when she woke up they didn’t fight over it. I also brought along their favorite stuffed animals, a lot of books, and some new invisible ink pens and pads, plus I put some window clings up for something different to look at.
Mr. G doesn’t allow the girls to eat in his car at all. I’m a little bit looser on this rule, but they still don’t get to eat in my car all the time, so this was a treat. I’m convinced that giving Peanut a snack cup full of Cheerios got us through the last hour without any screaming.
Strategically timed potty breaks
We stopped at the Burger King in Quartzsite on our drive to L.A. last summer so I knew there were a couple of “rides” in the gas station side and made that our first stop. Since they don’t often get fast food, they enjoyed having nuggets and fries for lunch and, of course, the crowns, as well as turns on the rides. For the second stop, we visited the dinosaurs at Cabazon. They loved it! We sat under the brontosaurus (brachiosaurus?) to have a snack (yep, more snacks!) and they practiced their best roars.
A couple weeks before our trip, I had given the girls their water bottles on our way to the grocery store and Pumpkin drank all of hers before we got there. She used the potty three times before we finished our weekly shopping that day. After that, I decided for the drive to keep their water bottles in the front seat with me, and let them only have a little at a time. Still, I couldn’t predict when Pumpkin would need to stop, but amazingly, we didn’t have to make any stops outside of the two I planned. The six-hour drive was made longer only because we took extra time at the stops to stretch our legs and there was a little bit of traffic as we got close to our destination. Really, it couldn’t have been much smoother.
I would be lying if I said that the rest of the trip went as well. With having the girls out of a routine, all three of us sleeping (or not sleeping, as it turned out) in one room, and not staying in the same place every night, we were all a bit tired and cranky. Plus, I got sick the morning we were supposed to leave and my dad made the ride back with me for extra support.
Still, it was a nice visit. We got to see family and friends, made a stop at the beach and took a drive up to Griffith Observatory. (The observatory itself was closed, but the views were worth the drive.)
Traveling is always easier with both parents, but now I am confident I can do it on my own, too. (But for our next visit, we booked a house instead of a hotel room so hopefully everyone can sleep!)