Road Trips & Toddlers: Keeping the Crazy to a Minimum

If you’ve been following my Instagram feed lately, it’s pretty clear we’ve been up to stuff.

On a whim I decided to tag along on a weekend trip to my brother’s house with my Mom and Anne.  Ryan just finished up in court (Oh yes. Weeks of jury duty has come to a close!) so we let him have a bachelor weekend to decompress.  As full-time Dad to our supersonic daughter, or Princess Anne-uh as she has been calling herself, I would say it was well earned.

Anne told me her favorite part of the trip was the dancing.  Her boy cousins entertained her like you wouldn’t believe.  Dance parties x 4.  “Hey fancy dog!  Do you want to dance?”  Go ahead and Google the dog breed Catan.  That is the fancy dog of which she speaks.

She also spent a ton of time at their Lego table and only tried to stick them up her nose once.  I’d say it was a success.

My Precious!

Kids toys be creepy.  My precious!

On the way home we got caught in the weekend traffic. It took two extra hours due to a “one hour delay.”  Right.

Needless to say the day started out with calm spiritual music and books on tape.  It ended with Fall Out Boy.  (She calls it the “dark, dark” or the “day, day” song.  She sings along and will ask for it repeatedly.  I dream to someday stealthily capture it on film.)

Toddler Road Trip Lessons (because you can’t plug a 2 year old into Ninjago and take a nap)

Toys and Books!

We brought all her favorites and added a few of the newest hits.  She spent a long time with her doctor kit making the baby feel better.

Toddler Car Trip Toy House

She somehow managed to get to her doll house and proceeded to play with it like this for an hour.


My only tip:  Make sure your child can reach their toys so you don’t get car-seat-burn on your arm from constantly fetching stuff.  But honestly, you might end up fetching it any way.  I know our girl thinks the most logical thing to do with a toy she’s done playing with is to toss it.

Speaking of…

Dry erase crayons are awesome—to throw.

We laminated some coloring pages a few months ago and thought it would go great with her new car seat activity tray.  I figured it was a pull-out-the-stops activity for when she got bored/frustrated.   Major problem:  Crayons are excellent ammunition.  And you can bet the ones we didn’t find will melt into the upholstery once the sun comes out.  *Fingers crossed we got them all*

Favorite Activities

  • Play I Spy or talk about all the things you can see outside.
  • Lights!  We have a star nightlight she loves to bring along.  She will put her fingers over it to make different shapes on the ceiling.  Low power flashlights are fun too.
  • American Girl Magazines—or any toy magazines—but those are her favorite.
  • Magnetic doodle board.  She will doodle on her own or we will draw her stuff like letters, numbers, or shapes to guess.
  • Play What’s that Sound?  We downloaded White Noise Lite  for bedtime but ended up using it most of the trip.  My mom and Anne had to guess the following crazy sounds that were on there:  dripping water (Really?  This is the kind of thing that keeps me awake!  Does someone actually like falling asleep to this?), vacuum cleaner, purring cat, clock, heartbeat, hair dryer, lightning, fire, waves, crickets, frogs, dryer, dishwasher, airplane, car, etc etc etc.  There are 50 I think.  I don’t know why but we laughed—a lot.

Car Trip Thumbs Up

Snacks, snacks, snacks.

Our child isn’t necessarily a picky eater but she’s a fickle one.  If she’s not in the mood for something, she will. not. eat. it.  We were having dessert the other day and Grandpa walked in eating some freeze dried peaches.  I was just handing her a cup of ice cream when she said “No Mommy!  No ice cream!  I want peaches!”  Whoa there.  Whose child is this?

Anne’s favorites: bananas, crackers, cheese, cashews, fruit leather, reusable pouches filled with coconut yogurt and apple sauce, etc.

So.  Bring lots of variety but…

Be careful not to snack or drink constantly.

Road trips are the perfect storm for cavities.  (I saw that eye roll!)  Try not to overdo sticky stuff, hard candies, sugar or fruit drinks, crackers, fruit snacks, etc.

Have them eat it up and be done for a while.  You are actually much less likely to get cavities eating 20 pieces of candy all at once than sucking on 6 pieces of candy all day long.

Then follow up with nuts, cheese sticks, or sugar free mints (or gums for older kids) to bring the acid levels down and strengthen the teeth with calcium.

(Sorry.  Day job coming through.  You think I just know this because I am in the dental field.  No friends.  I am in the dental field because I got tons of cavities. I guess you can take the girl out of the dental office…)

Hide the goods.

Hold out your best tricks for as long as possible.  Don’t let on there is anything else in store until you absolutely have to.  You don’t want to hit bumper to bumper traffic and already have blown your gummy bears or favorite episode of Yo Gabba Gabba.

Once you reach that point, though, got for it!

Toddler Car Trip Paci

After 10 hours in the car with another hour to go, the toddler gets whatever the toddler wants.   She wants her bedtime-only pacifier?  She can have it.  She “needs” another sippy of juice?  Fine.  At this point we are all just trying to survive.

If necessary, I will even to sing all 107 verses of Old MacDonald to keep the screaming to a minimum.  Sanity can be hard to come by on a long car trip and even less so when small children are involved.

Guess how we ended the trip!  We did our first successful car-seat-to-bed sleeping child transfer.  It was a bit surreal.  We kept looking at each other in shock.  “Did that really just work?”

One Response

  1. Anonymous May 3, 2017

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