This post is the last [finally] in a series covering our trip to Colorado. See: Why We Went; What We Did; What Mia Did; The Random
From where we live to where we go in Colorado is about 11.5 hours without stops. Add in snow (causing us to go the way that is more miles, but higher speed limits) plus two kids and we were staring at 13.5 hours. It always makes the meal stop longer, but we stop somewhere with a playground and let the kids get all their energy out.
Stuff them up, tire them out, and buckle them in for a nap. Works like a charm.
All in all, I was actually surprised at how smooth the trip was and how great the kids were. Maybe it’s because I was expecting a long day of whining and resistance to being in the car so long. Clearly I didn’t give my kids enough credit for being good travelers. Also, I ran myself into the ground getting ready for that trip. I put in quite a few hours a few days before the trip and stayed up a few nights working on stuff and so it wasn’t surprising that halfway through Kansas I lost my voice – almost completely. Felt fine otherwise, but I was down to almost a whisper for almost the whole time we were there. It was all worth it because the kids were happy and engaged throughout the trip and they didn’t watch hardly any movies.
One of the best things we added to this trip was a visual of our trip so that Mia could understand how far we had come and how long we still had left.
We ran a ribbon from the front of the car to the back with mini clothespins spread out and a little picture of a car – since I enlisted Mark, he took it way beyond my expectations and made the little car that moved just like ours…I was just going to do a little cartoon car, but I’m so glad I asked him to help with this project. On one end of the ribbon was a heart with a picture of a home and the other end had a star with a picture of a hotel.
Every hour, we moved the car to the next clothespin.
I cannot tell you how impressed I was with this (I found the idea online). There were way fewer “are we there yet?” questions and she seemed to really grasp the concept. Yes, she asked “is it time to move the car yet?” quite a few times but more often than not it really was time to anyway. It really helped particularly in those last couple of hours when everybody is just so tired of being in the car and you have lost all trust in your parents’ words of “not much longer now.”
So, we’re glad we had that little car making its way across the car. Oh, and all of these snacks.
I think Mark needed these as much as the kids did. Kansas is just so…Kansas. (And no, those pink and white things aren’t pills…that would be Good & Plenty from my stocking.)
Here is what made this trip almost bearable:
Busy Bags. 12 for the way there and 12 for the way back. I knew that the way we had planned the trip, we would get some good road time in while the kids slept, but I knew that as soon as I banked on them sleeping they would pull a strike and I would be stuck. So, I planned one for every hour we would be in the car. We didn’t do all of them, but now we have some ready to go for when we end up at a restaurant or at a doctor’s office.
The very first bag was to decorate your own pencil box with stickers. I had bought each of them new markers and crayons depending on what their activity in a bag required so I wanted a place to put them all. Finn ended up using his for cars and tossing his new chunky crayons over to his sister’s side. She was more than happy to
steal store them for him. We pulled out of the house a little after 5, so we just put sleeping kids into the car – that’s why you get Mia in her pajamas and funky bedhead.
Speaking of cars….I probably could have put only cars in every single one of those bags for Finn and he would have been so happy.
Finn and Mater, his two favorites.
Each kid had a cookie sheet for some magnetic activities in some of the bags and as a tray for snacks and games…or as a race track.
This is one of the bags. Every bag had a theme that I thought the kids would enjoy and each one had a variety of things to do, all of them had one or more activities, some had books, many had snacks.
This one had whales snacks, stickers to make an underwater scene, a sensory bottle with pompoms and glitter (don’t worry, lid firmly hot glued on), a book, and magnetic stickers (stickers from the dollar store that I put on a magnetic sheet and then cut out).
Finn, working with his magnets – but never letting go of those cars, just so we’re all clear.
Mia working on her underwater scene.
Here’s another one – the color bag:
Color wheels where they had to match the color on the clothespin to the color on the wheel – made out of paint chips, pom poms (Finn loves playing with those because I left one long string on it so for some reason it makes them fun), silly putty, popsicle sticks with velcro on the ends to make shapes and fruit snacks and smarties.
Most bags were identical for each kid, but on a few of them I made one specifically for each one:
Princesses for Mia and Cars for Finn. Our friends gave some road trip supplies to the kids for Christmas so it was so nice to have new coloring books, stickers, activity packs and snacks. A lot of them went in this bag. One of my favorite finds at the dollar store went in these: a Cinderella pez dispenser for Mia and a Home Depot semi truck pez dispenser for Finn. As expected, these bags were a huge hit.
There was lots of reading, which is so nice…nice and quiet.
We even had book lights (also from the dollar store – love that place) so that Mia could color after dark.
Entertaining in the dark is always tricky, but we’re big fans of glow in the dark stuff. Daddy found these for the kids’ stockings:
Glow in the dark bug masks are so fun. You should definitely get them for your next road trip.
Another fun find were these mini projector flashlights:
It had 6 different lens cap designs that you could change out. The kids loved shining their designs up on the roof of the car and seeing them get bigger or smaller as they moved them.
One of my favorite bags in the whole bunch? The mustache one!
And, you can’t have all these mustaches and not try them out. Everybody got in on the fun!
Mia wins cutest with facial hair:
But I think Finn was the funniest of all:
It was a fun trip and we were very fortunate to have missed bad weather both going and coming back and to have two little kids who don’t mind being in the car.
I know that in reading this some of you are probably thinking that I’m nuts or that this is so over the top and I get that…I read blogs out there and I so get it. I feel like I can’t keep up with all that whimsy and awesomeness and jump on the first train to “how can I do what I need to do and do all of this fun stuff for my kids?”. The reality is that you don’t. When people post about all of these awesome things they’ve done and how everything seems so put together, there’s probably something burning in the background. Maybe not, maybe that’s just me. All that to say, yes…having all of those bags was crazy and I was impressed myself when I saw it all together but I did not do it to try and prove that I’m a supermom. I did it so that I wouldn’t lose my ever living mind halfway through Kansas. And really, I didn’t get a lot of sleep those last couple of days and I had my niece and sister and aunt helping me in Colorado so that I could finish up some bags for the way back. Anyway, just wanted to clarify that this is not normal everyday stuff for me and I don’t want anybody to feel like less of a mom if they don’t do busy bags for their kids’ road trips. I just knew that I would be less of a good mom if I didn’t have some kinds of tricks up my sleeve. Pretty sure hours 7 and on would have been dicey at best, so I wanted to do what I could to get out of the car at our destination and feel good about how we just interacted with each other. So, contrary to popular belief I did not lose my voice from yelling at my kids for 13 hours in the car, I just ran myself into the ground so I wouldn’t. Probably best for them that way.
And hey! if you’re getting ready to go a road trip and need some busy bag supplies, I have a great stash (and ‘stache! ha!) that you can sort through and use for your trip. It will make for the best 13 hours in the car you’ve had in a long time!