Splitting up an eight hour road trip for myself and the kids into two days was a wise decision on my part. This allowed for me to learn from my mistakes on the first day (which consisted of three-ish hours of travel) so as to apply the lessons gleaned to our second stretch yesterday.
Here is what I have learned - in no particular order:
- Nap times in the car do not stretch as long as naps in real life. Thus, your son, who typically sleeps two hours in the morning and another two in the afternoon, will doze for roughly half (if you're lucky) of his normal time. This will leave him cranky. His crying will, in turn, leave everyone else cranky. Plan on this.
- While a DVD player may entertain your cartoon-loving two-year-old, your attention-loving infant may not be as easily amused by something which does not directly interact with him. You may need periods of time where the electronics are off and your daughter has a book in her hands, "reading" to her little brother. This plan will actually work wonders on both your ears (which will be grateful for the lack of screaming) and your sanity.
- If, by chance, the reading isn't working or your daughter isn't up for it at the moment, crackers should always be kept in the seat beside you. One cracker at a time at the on-set of fussiness will diffuse even the roughest crank-fest. Note to self: Continually passing crackers to the middle seat in the back will work muscles and joints you are not accustomed to using so frequently. Stretching before-hand may help.
- Be sure, also, to bring enough crackers to appease the jealous sister who loves food. Otherwise, wiping one child's tears may result in more falling from another's eyes.
- For those rare moments when the younger is simply content, be sure you have allowed the elder to pick out the DVD's which will accompany you on the trip - this will make movie selection easier during crunch-time. Also, training your child in removing discs from their sleeves and patiently placing them in your waiting hand (which is stretched to the backseat, of course) will ease the process of switching the DVD.
- An all-you-can eat buffet is your best bet for on-the-road food. You will only be required to pay for your plate while, in fact, feeding yourself and both children (and not paying for food your picky toddler decides not to eat) - win-win-win.
These are points I will be taking home with me come next week. Feel free to implement the above steps as necessary to aid in your own road trip bliss.