The end of school holidays are here and like many other parents you may be pulling your hair out and ready for the school bell to chime next week (Don’t worry Ladies, we all do it! We all share the complex emotions of relief that school holidays are over and happiness/excitement tinged with a bit of sadness and being immensely proud that your child is entering a new life phase. Mother guilt seems to run high!). By now, like me, you may have almost exhausted the mix of activities, play dates, the beach, zoo, park, library, cutting, glueing, painting, building cardboard towers, playing fancy dress and playing “kids Masterchef” in the kitchen. Are you tired? How about a last minute mini holiday/break to revitalise the family before school starts?
What are you doing this weekend? Australia is a beautiful country with endless mini break options. How about a last minute dash to the beach? Or maybe the mountains? Pack the car and go camping/glamping or find a last minute hotel/apartment deal somewhere you have never been. The options are endless. What ever you decide you will probably be spending some time in the car.
In December we took our first mini break in years (tut tut, I know, this was prior to my acknowledgement of being burnt out! See Happy wife = Happy life). Now imagine this, the car is packed, we start to drive down the driveway and hear the dreaded “Are we there yet?” from number One. I thought some expletives and then thought in my nice calm inner voice “has it started already?”. “No honey” I calmly replied (see the calm inner voice worked!) “We need to drive to the ferry that will take us to the island we are going camping” “Whhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhy?” Asks number Two, in a spectacular whiny voice that usually comes before the mega tantrum. I took a deep breath and thought about when/if I could open that bottle of wine that I packed for Babycakes and I…. “Mummmmmmmy Whhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhy?” Asks number Two again, this time with volume reserved for the backyard. It was 6:30am. I dove straight into the chocolate I bought for our first night away. Whoops. Lesson learnt – put the rest of the chocolate in the boot of the car when we stop at the service station for fuel….
Does this sound familiar? For some a road trip is the only way to get from point A to point B and for others it is by choice. What ever you reason the “how are we going to survive this?” Comes to mind.
I love road trips! They take a bit more planning than when you were double income no kids, but you can make it fun with a little bit of planning, effort and energy. And, yes, I did buy a replacement chocolate when we reached our destination…
Here are my top 11 tips to survive and enjoy your road trip this weekend!
It may sound simple but work out where you are going, where you will stay while on the road, rest stops on the road and don’t forget a map (just in case your ever reliable Sat Nav stops working!). Do not forget to swap drivers every two hours to stay safe on the roads.
Food – we eat and we distract
Pack an esky food and frozen ice blocks to keep things cool and keep a small backpack for snacks while you are driving! I pack the following:
– water and milk (freeze 1/2 of the bottles for cool drinks and they also keep everything cool).
– snacks – morning tea, afternoon tea, “we are lost” tea, “are we there yet” tea… you get the picture – more food is better! Pack food in individual clip lock containers for each of your angels for each snacking period. Don’t forget to cut before you go. Take a backup kilo of mandarins, apples etc. and a packet of rice cakes.
– lunch – sandwiches, boiled eggs, cheese sticks and yoghurt in tubes (spoons not required!).
– dinner – just in case you are still driving, pre-cooked meatballs, carrot, capsicum, celery sticks etc. are all good options.
Games are a great way to connect as a family, pass kilometres on the road and learn at the same time. Teach the kids I Spy! Invent games, count the number of white cars, trucks, motorbikes, boats etc. you see on the road. Find animals. Seeing if you can get the truck driver to toot his horn is always an old favourite…
Audio books a great way to keep the family engaged and prevent motion sickness.
Plan for regular toilet stops
Plan for regular toilet stops. Keep a roll of toilet paper in the car door and instant handwash (some toilets do not have toilet paper or water!).
If you are toilet training, keep the potty at the bottom of your toddlers feet in the car for easy access, put a water resistant cover on the car seat and have clean underwear and changes of clothes for ‘accidents’ nearby. During sleep time put a nappy/pull up on and back to underwear when they are awake.
Stop at parks for lunch
Stop at parks with playgrounds for breaks and let the kids stretch their legs, play and burn some energy. The Playground Finder is an essential item on my travel list www.playgroundfinder.com
Research your new destination
Every town in Australia has something interesting or quirky about it. Do your research before you leave and entertain (or bore!) your kids with weird and wonderful facts about the town. For instance, the Big Marino in Goulburn NSW – talk about it, about sheep in general, about what sheep songs you know, the list is endless.
Take garbage bags
Take a big stash of garbage bags to collect rubbish in the car (you will be amazed at how it seems to multiply!), for motion sickness minimise the mess in the car.
Pack pencils, crayons, colouring in pads, toys etc. is great entertainment. Suggest they draw what they see – you will be amazed!
Stop at dog friendly parks and ensure that there is no deadly 1080 bait in the area. Pack a water bowl, large water bottle, plastic bags, dog lead and keep them in the back with your dog.
I would use iPads and DVD players as a last resort – only if things go feral.
Happy road trip! Enjoy and let me know what you do this weekend.