If you've been wondering what's happened to me I'm still around! I haven't died from lack of sleep or gotten carpal tunnel from changing 6 poopy diapers before 10 am yet (and yes that does happen).
A few weeks ago I got a call from my mom that my grandmother (who has stage four breast cancer) wasn't doing very well. So my husband rearranged his work schedule so we could visit while we still had the chance. He worked six, twelve hour days in a row (as did I) so we could go. I packed mine and the kids clothes, loaded the car, baked banana bread to cheer up a friend, and cleaned the whole house the day we left. I drove into town and picked my husband up from work and he was impressed. He wasn't sure I would make it and fully expected to get himself home and leave the next day. I was maybe a little bit proud of myself.
The key to this little road trip's success was planning. It's a twelve hour trip from our house to my mom's house so we decided to stay at a hotel overnight halfway there. My husband gets off work right around their bedtime. I knew they wouldn't be falling asleep until a bit later than normal so I gave them all snacks and when they finished those I sprayed their feet with Rescue Remedy.
Every time we got in the car on this trip it was either bedtime or naptime for my kids. And every time we got into the car I sprayed their feet with Rescue Remedy to promote relaxation and sleep (and to prevent the screaming/ sleep fighting that all parents dread during a road trip). It had about a 95% success rate for us which was pretty great.
We arrived at our hotel around midnight and had another success in transferring all of them into bed. We like to stay at Holiday Inn Express when we travel with our littles. We get the suite with two queen beds and a pull out couch so there is plenty of (affordable) room . All of the ones I have stayed at have been super clean, have comfortable beds, decent breakfast, and a key component to our plan...a pool. (this is my own opinion and not sponsored by Holiday Inn) Be sure to sign up for their reward program if you stay with them.
By the time they woke up it was just about time to feed them dinner. This was the first and only meal we stopped for on the way there. Taking five people out to eat can get pretty pricey (especially if your babies are big eaters like mine are).
We look up places where kids eat free and go there. Eat Out With Kids is a great website & app resource for finding a free or very cheap place to feed your kids. And kids always eat free at Sweet Tomatoes / Soup Plantation (kids 2 & under), CiCi's Pizza (3 & under), Snappy Tomato (under 5), Golden Corral (3 & under), and Shoney's (3 & under). Always call before you show up though to make sure they are still honoring these offers.
From dinner on (they fell asleep maybe an hour before our destination) was our longest period of awake time in the car.
While the kids did watch some TV, I try really hard to limit it. My kids are not used to watching movies in the car so they did not expect it. To prevent melt downs over turning it off we would schedule potty breaks at the time the movie would end. That way when we got back into the car we would start something new.
One of the best substitutes for television (and a huge hit with my kids) are audio stories or books on tape. You can rent books on tape from most libraries for free. You can download audio stories from Story Nory for free. You can buy them from The Story Home for about $.99 each (Although they have a free podcast. While I don't appreciate everything that comes out of Focus on the Family they do have an app (iphone and android) with free Adventures in Odyssey audio stories that we do enjoy. Story Nory & The Story Home also have paid apps for IPhone.
But hey if you use the TV more power to you. You gotta do what you gotta do to keep your kids happy. We are doing this all over again in a few months so I would love to know any of your travel tips for kids. Feel free to leave them in the comments below... and as always no captcha's or hoops to jump through.