Tuesday, April 3, 2007

No-Whine Road Trips

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We don't have one of those fancy DVD players in our 1999 Suburban. It's just as well, though, because we like to look out the windows, sing, or talk with each other when we are in the car.

Whenever we are planning to go on a long road trip with our 6 children, as we will be in June, though, I prepare in advance for possible boredom by stocking up on activity books, new crayons, and small toys at the Dollar Store. I get crossword books or word searches for the older ones, connect the dots or color by number for the middles, and scribble pads for the littles. I also get some special snacks that we usually don't have, like Teddy Grahams and juice boxes. I don't let any of the kids see what I have bought.

Then, the night before the trip, I have everyone put their backpacks on the couch before they go to bed, so I can fill them up with their "trip surprises".

When we get on the road, I tell them that if there is no complaining, when we get to the next town they can choose 1 item to take out of their backpacks. I remind them that if they remain joyful and patient, they get to take another item of their choosing out after another hour, and so on until we get there.

They love the anticipation, and it makes a long trip a little more interesting.

[Whatever you do, do not put Silly Putty in with their surprises. Trust me. One year I did this and during the trip, one of the kids complained that they had lost theirs. "No problem," I said, "It'll turn up sooner or later."

Oh yeah, it turned up all right.

We had found a little country church just outside of Atlanta where we could attend worship services. During one of the "stand and sing" portions of the service, I noticed that some teenagers sitting in the pew behind me were giggling hysterically, which I found odd since I didn't see anything funny about "This Is My Father's World".

At one point, I looked back to see what was so funny and I saw their eyes dart up from a southerly direction. Self consciously, I rubbed the back of my dress, and to my horror, I felt the missing flesh colored Silly Putty clinging stubbornly to the back of my navy dress like a barnacle on a tug boat. I inconspicuously contorted myself like a Chinese acrobat to try to wrest that rubbery blob from my back side, all the while trying to act like I wasn't about to die of embarrassment thinking of all the people who had just seen me with a glob of gummy goop on my hind end. So, please, just say no to Silly Putty on road trips.]

If there is any whining or fussing, we resort to something I have seen at Amy's Humble Musings and at Mommy Life. I figure if it's good enough for them, then it's good enough for me, and I think it's worth repeating here.

I like to call this tactic, "Don't mess with Momma on a road trip."

It "Works for Me!"


Headmistress, zookeeper said...

That silly putty story has to be one of the funniest stories ever. You oughta enter it in the 'family life' carnival.

justabeachkat said...

Great idea about the backpacks filled with surprises!

The silly putty story made me chuckle. I can just picture it! LOL

Jane said...

Very funny! I have to tell my cousin about this because she has so many road trips!Reminds me of a Christmas stocking! Silly Putty story is unforgettable! You just have to laugh!

NspiredByFaith said...

Great Ideas! you lost me at the end, that picture is too funny!

An Ordinary Mom said...

Thanks for the tips!

Rae said...

Great ideas! That picture and story are just too cute. Thanks for sharing, have a great week! =)

Jan B said...

Oh that is so funny! I love that photo too!

Justice Fergie said...

great tip. i recently did this for my Oldest when we went on vacation last month and it helped to have surprises during the plane ride.

i also love that you tell your children to "remain joyful and patient" instead of telling them to "be quiet!" i think i'll try that.

Faerylandmom said...

That's a great idea...I like the whole "surprise" thing.

The photo is goooood. I can feel that way just on the way to the grocery store!

Honey said...

This is great! And it is a good sign that they are well behaved and do not take everything out of the bag. (Can you tell I have a 2 year old?). :)

P.S. Your joke on your husband was hilarious!!

Jen said...

I love the idea of taking out one thing at a time along the way!!! I usually pack a basket of things for my daughter, and they end up strewn about the back seat 1/2 hour into the trip! :-) I want to go on a road trip with YOU! :-)

GiBee said...

Oh... that is tooooooo funny!

- linz - said...

LOL. I LOVE the picture and of course the silly putty story. :)

sara - The Estrogen Files said...

Great ideas! I also like to do Dollar Store stuff for long trips. We recently invested in a car DVD thingy but Hubbers mostly uses it to play PS2 in the car!

Hadley Coble said...

That is too funny! I like your surprise ideas too!

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