Just last week, we decided to get out of town–after a very, very long four months of quarantine–and head out to Yellowstone. I have to say that I have never really wanted to go but after being cooped up for so long, I was like fuck it, I’ll go to a colon cleanse if you ask me. I’m actually kind of embarrassed that I even had that energy about going because WOW, that place is MAGICAL.
Even though I was totally pumped to get out of the house, there was one thing that had me kinda stressed and that was road tripping with a toddler. I know, right? That sounds fucking brutal. As soon as we confirmed the trip, I started looking up ways to make it bearable with a child and now I kind of feel like a profesh. I said kind-of. Read on for some of the things that made our trip less of a pain in the ass and kept Chris and I from killing each other.
- Leave and travel during bedtime. I had originally wanted to leave at 7:30 p.m., right as she snoozed for the rest of the night, but because Chris is annoyingly meticulous about his road trip operation, we were delayed a bit. She passed out in our bed as we loaded up the car and tied all loose ends. We got out the door by 9:30 but she was loooong passed out so transferring her to the car was a cinch. Chris and I switched off driving different legs and she only woke up a minimal amount of times. She finally woke up for the day at 8:30 Utah time and by then, we were already at our designated destination.
- Bring all the snacks. Maxine is a grubber. The girl is only happy when she eats. If she is hungry and we don’t feed her, all hell WILL break loose, so having snacks on deck was an absolute must. This also wasn’t the time to be super picky about what she ate. if she wanted some chips, by God just give her the damn chips. That’s not to say that I didn’t give her healthy-ish snacks. We are lucky–Maxine even eats veggies. Some of our favorite snacks were Trader Joe’s veggie sticks (they taste like McDonald’s fries,) yogurt pouches, apple slices, basically any fruit, chips (guys, she likes my hot Cheetos), pop-tarts, the list goes on….forget the snacks and you might as well be rookie parent of the year.
- The iPad. The iPad saved our lives. There is no other way of putting it. The iPad was a lifesaver and I would do it again and again. Don’t travel without it. Now, I get that some parents are like fully against screen time and that is their prerogative, but for us, it has helped us in some of our darkest hours. I used Amazon Prime to stream her movies (we have the iPad that doesn’t have wifi) because I found it was easier to accommodate than AppleTV. Before we left, I downloaded movies she loves (Finding Nemo, Frozen I and II, and The Nightmare Before Christmas) and she literally watched these on repeat. Now, I know you’re probably thinking “and you’re proud of that?” Fuck yes, I am proud of this. Trust me–this is not a hill you want to die on. Traveling on the road with a screaming toddler through six states? No way. Besides, I am convinced that screen time has helped expand her vocabulary.
- Stop and get the wiggles out. It is important for everyone to stop on occasion and stretch, use the restroom, hydrate, etc. The last thing you want to do is be sitting for 7 hours straight without any sort of movement.
- Switch jumping in the backseat with your partner. There were times when Maxine was just so restless that nothing but jumping in the backseat with her helped. She isn’t a robot and she was totally craving that face-to-face interaction with either one of us–and to be honest, so were we! We love our little baby girl and don’t want to go too long without seeing her presh face. I used this time to sing to and with her, practice our ABC’s, play peek-a-boo and just stare in awe.
So there you have it. Of course, even when following these tips, you’re going to run into some hiccups. They are human, don’t forget that. If something isn’t working, you know your kid best. Think about what they like to be distracted by. Do they calm down when you sing a particular song? Do they like a little foot rub? Improvise! The last thing you want is a crabby baby on an 11 hour drive.
Let me know if I have missed any tips. We have many more trips in the upcoming month and I am always down for peace on the road.