Car Culture, Sarah, Uncategorized

Shake, rattle, and roll: holiday travel tips

December 19, 2011
Holiday travel can be tough enough. But add baby to the mix, and it can send otherwise rational people over the edge. So as you cram your car full of presents, car seats, and suitcases this holiday season, make note of some travel tips Henry’s taught us. But first, let me mention that my style of road trip is intense. We make one stop every eight hours. And that stop must include fueling up the car, getting food, and going to the bathroom. Henry, he doesn’t care about that. For the first four weeks of his life, he screamed bloody murder every time we put him in his car seat. This forced me to break all my road trip rules. Four months later, we’ve now survived a nine-hour trip north of Chicago, a seven-hour trip to Minnesota to meet extended family and a dozen trips to K-State sporting events. Here’s what we’ve learned:

Backseat diaper changes

Develop a diaper changing style. We prefer the back seat over the changing table mounted to the bathroom wall because we can tag team it. (Why are these tables often only in the women’s restroom? Not fair.) Once of us stands in front of Henry to slip off the wet diaper and the other hands the wipes, clean diaper, and new pants as needed. This style only works for the parents with strong backs, because try walking upright after changing a diaper on a slanted car seat all while trying to shield baby from the cold. Ouch. Choose your parking place wisely. We park in the back corner of the gas station parking lot to maximize privacy while nursing. During our last stop through Iowa, a hunter pulled up in his pickup right next to me. With a dead deer in the back. If that doesn’t make for relaxing, peaceful nursing, I don’t know what does. Get a bunch of things that dangle and make annoying sounds. Speaking of his blue elephant, we also have a green frog, orange rattle, vibrating bird and a lion that chimes like a bell. Now that he can bat at the toys, he can entertain himself for a few minutes. When the bells fail, we crank up the Rockabye Baby CDs. When those fail, I sing “Jingle Bells” at the top of my lungs. For hours. And hours.

Essential car seat entertainment

Clip the essentials to baby’s body. Pacifier clip? Best invention ever. The first trip I was trying to drive while digging around his face looking for the lost pacifier that caused shrill screaming. The next trip, I clipped it to his chest, and all I had to do was pull that little sucker up by the string and tuck in between his lips for instant happiness. Be flexible. We are able to take a five-hour drive without stopping. The next week we attempt a two-hour drive and have to stop three times. It’s unpredictable, and going with that mindset helps. I let Henry run the show. When he’s hungry, wet, or bored of staring at his blue elephant, we stop whether the gas tank was nearing empty or not. I’m trying to enjoy it while it lasts. Pretty soon he’ll be throwing things at the back of my head while I’m driving, telling me how my music choice makes me look old or asking me to drop him off a block away from the mall. What are your tricks to make road trips with kids tolerable?   LWTK’s mommy blogger, Sarah, is attempting to be a good mama to little Henry, wife to Shea, full-time employee and part-time grad student all while avoiding making dinner from a box every night. In her non-existent free time, she’s running, eating popcorn and blogging about it all at The Gatsby Diaries.

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