So… we took a road trip to Texas with our 2-year-old and 4.5-year-old (the half year is super important, don’t you dare forget to add it on). And it went way better than expected. I’ve found that in parenting, if I completely think something is going to suck, when it doesn’t actually suck, I am happily surprised. It’s all about expectations. If I get too excited about something and think it will be awesome, chances are I will be disappointed. I’d rather prepare for failure and achieve success than the other way around. So if something I expected to fail actually does fail, well then, I’m not at all surprised and in theory should not be let down. That’s my parenting tip for you, free of charge, expect suckitude if you ever want to achieve happiness. [it totally makes sense]
Anywho, back to the road trip… here are my observations:
- Chances are good there will be a Dollar General at any given exit, but there may or may not be a gas station. Chances are also good that you will be in need of gas but NOT cheaply purchased nick knacks.
- If you are travelling with children, you will eat too much McDonald’s food because it is the only chain with a playland and they are at almost every exit. Playlands are the key to your sanity. After two days in the car, you will want a salad and new intestines. [Note: Chick-fil-A also features a playland, sadly, they don’t exist all over the country. I love you Chick-fil-A – please come to Michigan.]
- Having a smart phone makes the trip so much more fun so you can post status updates and photos along the way – because people totally want up-to-the-minute updates of your progress. Plus, when you are not driving, you can play Angry Birds all you want (when you are not throwing snacks at the kids and turning around to find dropped pacifiers and sippy cups).
- If staying in a hotel, bring a baby monitor with batteries and you can put your little ones to bed in the room and either sit in the hallway or in your car right outside the door and wait for your child to go to sleep without having to go to sleep yourself. But you will still go to bed at 8:30 because you have been up since 4 am driving and you have changed time zones. Sad but true.
- When you go on vacation and stay with family, it will seem more like a vacation because they will love your kids and share some of the parenting responsibilities but at the end of the day, you are still the parent and you will come home just as worn out as when you left, though with a tan (unless you went somewhere cold and that is just stupid).
- Your husband will perhaps be more of a complainer than your children during the trip and you will perhaps want to hurt him. This is because he did not set himself up with lowered expectations, you should feel sorry for him because he was not prepared like you were for the trip.
- Feed your children while they are in the car and when you stop, just let them run around. Everyone will be happier, you can clean the car later.
- Save the DVD player until you absolutely need to get it out because once it is out, there is no going back and you will have to listen to Nemo, The Wiggles and Buzz & Woody for a long time. If you are me, you prefer to listen to music.
- There are cops every 20 miles in Illinois, where the speed limit is only 65 mph (unless you are in Chicago), so resist the urge to speed. [Note: we did not get pulled over but it pained me to only go 70 for such a long leg of our trip.]
- Road trips are so worth it and if you start them young, your kids will grow up enjoying the time they spent in the car and will have many fond memories to look back on that they will want to share with their own kids (it worked for both Simon and I).