Long Distances with Little Ones – MBFLP 216

Long Distances with Little Ones

The Thanksgiving holiday is the busiest time of year on America’s highways, and you may be driving long hours with little ones on board. How do you manage this so you all arrive at Grandma’s in good spirits? We hit the road in 2010 with seven children in the van and we’re crisscrossing the country for six months every year. This episode, we’ll share what we’ve learned about covering long distance with little ones!

You’re Not Alone

Last year, AAA estimated 51 million of us would be on the road for Thanksgiving. That’s like the whole population of New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Minnesota on the highway at the same time! It’s hard to guess how many of those millions were riding in booster seats, but you can bet it was a bunch.

There are some practical ways to make this more manageable for everyone: 

Long Distances with Little Ones

Making It Work

    1. Remember kids are kids – you’ve got make allowance for them. When Jacob met his brother Esau on the way back to his home country, Esau urged him to come along – but Jacob reminded him, “the children are weak,” and told him to go ahead, “[and] I will lead on slowly at a pace which the livestock …, and the children, are able to endure.” (Genesis 33:12-14)
    2. Take it easy on the mileposts. The fact that Dad the Road Warrior can handle 700 miles a day may not be the best plan for Mom and the kids. We were much happier when we slowed down our itinerary.
    3. Be sure that kids who sleep all day will be alert and active when Mom and Dad are ready for bed! We’ve done a few trips overnight or in the wee hours, but it made the parents grumpy the next day – and no child needs that! It’s tempting to pile on the miles while the crew is napping, but you’ll all be happier if you get out and get some exercise during the day. Which leads to our discovery,
    4. We all need regular breaks. On doctor’s advice, we make a brief stop every couple of hours. You’re going to need gas and rest rooms eventually, why not just plan on it? Modern travel plazas aren’t like the seedy truck stops of old – we find they’re usually clean, well-lit, and have large rest rooms. Which reminds us,
    5. “Mandatory Bathroom Stops” make it efficient. We just require everybody to get out and use the rest room, even if they “don’t need to go.” (We found the teenager who insisted he didn’t need to get out was the one who would have an emergency thirty minutes down the road.)
    6. Don’t miss the field trips along the way. We’ve had some great stops at National Parks, state historical sites, or even just picnic areas with a view. Go ahead – you might learn something, and if nothing else, the kids can run around and use up some energy! (Keep a ball or Frisbee handy to encourage some activity). A little research beforehand can highlight neat stuff ahead.
    7. Do like the airlines – distract the passengers with changing activities. You can hand out a snack, then a little while later surprise them with some new crayons or a book, then sing or play a car game, then maybe start a DVD or pop in an audio book (we’ve got some suggestions below!) Older kids might be able to do some schoolwork along the way – but if it’s a short vacation, you might want to just take the days off from book work and let them learn what they can from the travel.

In the old days, an education wasn’t considered complete until the student had experienced some serious travel. Now, it’s so much easier to get around, we tend to rush through it and miss the good stuff along the way. Slow down a bit, let the kids out of their car seats some, and enjoy the journey together!

 



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