If you’ve been following along, we recently took a nice, long road trip to Texas. Luckily, we lived and learned after last year’s even longer road trip down south and I put together my toddler road trip arsenal before we left. This time I knew exactly what it would take to get us sanely to our destination each day with a 1 and a 3 year old in tow. We planned our days out a little better and brought exactly what it would take to make this trip a fun, educational trip for all. And, I can say that all except for the last 20 minutes of the trip we fared very well with the arsenal listed below. I hope it works for you as well! (items listed in no particular order)
1. Now I’m Reading – Our whole family has fallen in love with this company. We have a couple of the Read It-Write It-Draw It books & two of the games. These are perfect for all different learning styles and keep a toddler/pre-schooler’s attention very well. Letter Bingo is our favorite, but I have a whole list of them I can’t wait to get on my Amazon wish list!
2. Melissa & Doug – This is another company that we LOVE. I think we’ve acquired the majority of their wooden food, but for travel they also have some fantastic options. The two I brought with us are their Magnetic Picture Maker (the magnet works through the box, which means no little pieces to spread everywhere and they also don’t become choking hazards for littler mouths…love it) and Memory Game (lots of options contained in one wooden container). If you can’t tell, I’m all about reducing the amount of clutter! However, one I don’t have that would be perfect is Travel Bingo. It’s also on my wish list…maybe for next year’s trip:).
3. Crayola Color Wonder – I love markers that only mark on the paper they are supposed to! With all of the developments that have happened since I was a child, it makes me super glad to be parenting now and not then. It’s the little things like avoiding having to clean marker off the car seat or little sister’s forehead that make me smile. These are great. Although we did lose one marker to the crevice between the seat and the console, still yet to be retrieved. I’m guessing that one is dried out by now. But, that’s the price you pay for fun.
4. Activity Books – Maze/activity books like the one pictured above keep my 3-year-old nice and busy developing strategy and promoting brain development. I found this one at Wal-Mart and I’ve seen more and more options pop up in the children’s book sections there and other places like Target.
5. I Spy – These take me back to my childhood. They are as loved now as they were then. We have a few of the big books and I just discovered a few I Spy board books at Wal-Mart that even my 1-year-old can do. I also cannot wait for my kiddos to discover Where’s Waldo. I loved those! They are probably for a little older kids than mine, but we’re not far off.
6. Books – Books are always a staple wherever we go. They are in our diaper bag, our car, bedrooms, bathrooms, living rooms, and so on. We’ve started reading books with our kids from the day they come home from the hospital in our bedtime/naptime routine and throughout the day and it’s paid off. I love seeing the excitement on my 1-year-old’s face when a good board book is put in front of her to explore. So, when all else was dismissed, a book was handed their way.
7. Okay, last thing on the arsenal, I’m not the proudest of, but man it works wonders. It’s the DVD player. When we bought our car, we didn’t have any kids. We saw the DVD player and thought, “Oh, that’s cool,” and then it just sat there for a year or so because we both sat in the front seat so there was no one to watch it. The car was a good deal with or without the DVD player. However, after having kids the thing gets run often. Now, I have set some ground rules for myself and the kids. We don’t watch it when driving around town or to the neighboring towns. It’s a road trip thing. And, every once in a while we’ll get the “Can I watch something?” question when we’re going a short distance, but for the most part I just have to give a quick reminder and it stops. They know my thoughts. However, when the road trip begins we make sure our stash of Disney movies, Veggie Tales, WordWorld, etc. have made it in the car. This road trip Duck Tales (talk about taking you back to childhood) was the favorite…and now the theme song is forever imbedded in my brain and my son knows all the words. “Life is like a hurricane…”
Before I mentioned that my arsenal didn’t quite make it to the end. As for the last 20 minutes of our road trip, both kids knew we were almost home and both needed a nap so I just disregarded my 3-year-old’s request leave me on the side of the road to walk the rest of the way home after he didn’t like the response I gave to his request to watch more TV. His suggestion actually sounded more appealing and refreshing than the breakdown we endured the rest of the way;). Thank goodness for this arsenal so that the entire trip was in no way similar to the end.
*By the way, we at no point have told my son anything close to the “if you don’t shape up we’ll drop you off on the side of the road” comment, which makes it even more interesting that he decided that was a good idea for me. Going to have to explore that one…:) Happy road tripping!