Thursday morning, we got up early and took a last minute road-trip to Pittsburgh to see family. I sat in the back of the mini-van with Luna praying she’d take a nap (she didn’t). I made a mental list of everything we needed for a long weekend and I must say, even though I packed last minute, I did a particularly good job prepping the toddler entertainment and organizing each and every bag for the trip. We are READY, and in the spirit of being so on-top of things, why not share my expert “road-trip with a toddler” advice? Here’s how we’re surviving this road trip with our almost-three year old (and 4 month pregnant self).
1. Snacks and lots of em’. I not only packed lots of healthy snacks this time, but I also organized them carefully with our gallon-sized Ziploc’s. I’ve got the granola and cereal bar bag, the fresh fruit bag, the fruit snack bag, granola, veggie chips, nuts, etc! AND, just yesterday, I picked up these little 2.3 ounce containers from the Dollar Tree (10 for a $1!). I put different little snacks in each one (goldfish, cereal, raisins, nuts, etc). Then, when Luna asks for a snack for the 157th time, I just give her one of these little babies. She’s completely satisfied and I don’t have to worry about giving her too much junk. So easy!
2. Use a metal cookie sheet. That’s right, I picked up this bad boy at the Dollar Tree too. I tossed a bunch of Luna’s magnetic letters into a zip-loc and BAM, instant car toy! Not only is it great for magnets, but it doubles as a surface for coloring and triples as a table for food! WHY did I not get one of these sooner???
3. Buy a shiny new toy. I always pick up a nice inexpensive toy for Luna before a trip from, you guessed it, the Dollar Tree! (I swear this isn’t an add for the Dollar Tree.) I have picked up quite a few of their Disney figurines and they’re always a hit with Luna. A new toy always entertains the longest.
4. Get yourself a LeapReader Junior. A very kind and generous friend got this little guy for Luna’s second Birthday and I am eternally grateful. She absolutely loves using him to “read” her Disney princess and Minnie Mouse books. It is by far one of the most entertaining toys on a road trip.
5. Play Pack Grab & Go is your friend. You can pick these little grab bags of goodness (includes coloring book, crayons and 25 stickers) for a buck in the Target dollar bin, the Dollar Tree or even get them in bulk on Amazon. I like that Luna always sees it at a new toy, so even though it’s just coloring and stickers, it appears to be new and exciting. Score!
6. Bring any sort of “paint with water” book. I know. It seems like it’s going to be a mess, but it’s REALLY not. In fact, it’s so super easy. Here’s what you do… First, put the “painting” sheet on that awesome cookie sheet you brought. Then, you dip the paint brush in some water for them (you can even use your own water bottle), and simply hand them the paintbrush. Once it starts getting dry, they just hand it back to you, you get it wet again and so on and so on. Luna loves this! Yes, she wants to dip the brush in the water herself, but that’s just not an option when we are on the road!
7. Bring on the stickers! What is it with kids and stickers?? Who cares! They’re cheap and they love them! You can even get all crafty like this Mom (pic shown below). Honestly, I really wanted to do this, but I just didn’t have time to get it together for this trip. So, I just let Luna stick them basically anywhere…on her coloring books, her clothes, her face, my face…whatever!
8. Cheerios + pipe cleaners = sweet activity. I always try to get Luna to make little cheerio bracelets or necklaces with hers. She typically puts on a few, eats 5, puts on a few, eats 7 and so on. Either way, its fun, it’s a snack and its helps develop fine motor skills. Mom win!
9. Bring a few favorites from home. I typically pack at least one stuffed animal, a few of her favorite little princess and a few of her favorite books. It’s imperative to get books they know really well, that way they can “read” them themselves, or so you hope.
10. And what about the pregnant lady? Well, wear comfy clothes (for example, jeans was a bad idea), eat the snacks, drink water, bring a pillow for back support and sleep if you can. I’m lucky that I do not car sick or morning sickness (unless I don’t eat on time), so I can work, write, read and help entertain Luna on the drive.
11. Most importantly: embrace the beautiful gift of technology! God bless our iPad. On our recent trip to Texas, my goal was to only use the iPad when it was dark and it worked like a charm. I’m not super paranoid about screen-time, but I would prefer not to watch Mickey Mouse for 10 straight hours. However, this trip has been slightly different. I have been exhausted (thanks pregnancy insomnia!) and so uncomfortable (thanks skinny jeans), so I have definitely been letting her watch whatever Disney movies she wants for a big portion of this trip. Meh. You win some, you lose some.
Now, I just have to keep my fingers crossed that this keeps her entertained on the 9 hour drive back home too!