Traveling with a toddler can be a big challenge.
So you can image how anxious I get when I plan out my long car rides with my twin toddlers!
This past Thanksgiving, we decided to take our first long car ride with toddlers and I probably spent way too long over thinking the logistics of the trip. BUT the drive to and from my mom’s up in the Seattle area went so smoothly. So smoothly in fact, that I was honestly amazed with myself.
So of course I had to share just how I did it.
Let me take the thinking out of the equation for you, and help you enjoy a stress free long car ride with toddlers.
First off, the preparation. What everyone dreads, right?
But hear me out on this. Make sure you are 100% ready to go the night before you are planning to leave. Prep the crap out of your trip.
I mean, bags packed. Food packed. Snacks packed. Diaper bag packed. And everything in the car ready to go come morning. That is your first step to a successful long car ride with toddlers.
Next, the plan to leave with minimal stress. I put a lot of thought into this one to be honest.
When and how you leave will make or break the success of your trip. Think back to the last time your toddler was a mess in the car. Were they fed before you left? Were they playing and then all of a sudden you scooped them up and buckled them into the car?
I know that for my twin toddlers, preparation is key to successfully getting them out the door. They can’t do a complete 180 without having a break down.
So what I ended up doing was planning on leaving a few hours before their usual wake up time. I decided on this with two ideas in mind.
One- They wouldn’t be up for the day when we leave. Instead, they’d be groggy and could drink some milk while we changed their diapers and got them buckled into the car. Then hopefully go back to sleep, or at least be tired enough still to remain calm in the car.
And two- If my plan didn’t work, we could always wait around until nap time and then we wouldn’t be leaving super late into the day.
Luckily, my plan to wake them up a few hours early went as planned!
Once my husband and I were ready to head out the door, we calmly woke the twins with some milk and changed their diapers before heading out the door. We also kept the house dark with hopes of not waking them up any more than we needed to in order to leave.
Now as for the actual car, I had a few tricks up my sleeve as well that helped make for a stress free long car ride with toddlers.
One of the best tricks is something I actually keep in my car all the time now. I wish I would have thought about it earlier!
I call it a car box. The car box is simply a medium sized plastic storage box that I filled with everything the twins could need on our long car ride. So instead of having to pull over, or dig through their diaper bag that always get shoved in an inconvenient spot in the car, we had a box at arms reach filled with everything we needed.
I stuffed it with blankets, diapers, wipes, snacks, toys and other miscellaneous things we could need that we always forget. Things like Tylenol, teething gel, chargers. Just those random things that I wouldn’t want to lose and want to keep at hand.
The car box came in handy, and it’s something I still keep in the car. It is nice not to have to dig for the diaper bag, and always know that you have your essentials at arms reach.
Now for the second car hack; the one I owe the success of our long car ride with toddlers to.
Our Kindle Fire tablet. I know. I know. Some of you might disagree. But I got through a three and a half hour car ride with zero screaming thanks to our handy dandy tablet with Moana on repeat.
I have no problems with screen time. Especially when it comes to keeping me sane. My toddlers aren’t old enough to play games and such while we ride in the car. If you want some of those kind of tips, check out this blog post from my friend behind This Messy Season.
But if you have younger toddlers like myself, the Kindle Fire with Moana (or another Disney favorite) is your key to a successful long car ride with toddlers. Whatever movie it is that just draws them in, download it and play it on repeat during your car ride. Set the tablet up with a headrest mount like this one!
After all of those tips are in place, enjoy your car ride! Listen to a great podcast, jam out to your favorite artist. Whatever you want to do.
And if you need to, take some stops along the way. Outdoor malls are my favorite.
I hope my tips for a long car ride with toddlers work just as well for you as they have for me, and that this holiday season is a little less stressful because of them!