Driving and CryingJanuary 11, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Posted in Bun, Giggles, Lollipop, Transylvania | 13 Comments
Tags: Babies, Challenges, Children, Expats, Family, Games, Kids, Parenting, Pinterest, Road Trips, Romania, Travel
We knew we’d be sad if we stuck around Romania for the holidays. No family. No decorated mantle. No cranberries. (And did I mention no family?)
So we hit the road. In the rain. On highways named E60 and M1. With an equal number of children and suitcases.
Normally, we drive 17 hours across the States to get to our parents’ homes for the holidays. In one day. It’s a hellish, survival-of-the-fittest kind of trip with way more marshmallows, McDonald’s fries, and gas-station cappuccino than anyone needs. Plus, we wing it with activities for the kids. (Read: What do you want to watch now?)
I decided that probably wasn’t the best strategy this year.
Especially because they don’t have marshmallows in Romania. And there’s not a McDonald’s every 4.2 miles. And the gas stations wouldn’t deign to sell powdered cappuccino.
So, I went a’Pinteresting for tips on traveling with children.
Game Boys (& Girls)
First, I searched for car games I could print. And struck out. Road-sign bingo? Nope. Different signs. The license plate game? No states. Tic tac toe? My kids would never get past who got to be X.
But I did find enough ideas to come up with my own Europe-appropriate games (Count the Romanian Flags) and continent-neutral ones (Rainbow I Spy). We also attempted the Alphabet Game, except we passed more sheep than billboards.
Which was equally fun.
It’s in the Bag
I also put together a special bag for each kiddo. Inside? Puzzle books. Reading books. Crayons. Magazines. Paper. Stickers (with a gentle reminder that cars are allergic). Popcorn. Pretzels. Cheerios. Goldfish. Graham crackers.
They loved these. Lollipop meticulously went through the entire puzzle book and then moved onto the magazines. Giggles meticulously ate every single snack and then dumped his bag on the floor so he could pick everything up with his feet. (Whatever keeps them occupied, right?)
I kept the baby’s bag by me and supplied him with various snacks, books, and toys when he started to scream. None of it really worked, except to remind him that he was still in the car and still not able to sleep and still wearing a wet diaper. But it did pass the time. For both of us.
Since no road trip is complete without sugar, I stocked up on tried-and-true Barni cakes and promised one every hour if the kids behaved during that hour. And when their treat bag was empty? They’d know we were close. No need to ask “Are we there yet?” every 37 seconds.
They still asked, of course. But they also understood both the incentive to behave and the time frame of our trip. And they were too busy buzzing on chocolate to notice my distress as we passed semi after semi with no business driving on those narrow, curvy Romanian roads.
Trimming the Tree
Since we spent Christmas in a hotel, I wanted to have some kind of tree to spruce (ha! spruce!) up the generic white walls, white radiators, and white down comforters. So I made a felt tree, trunk, and star, thanks to a glorious Michael’s-inspired care package from my mom. The kiddos were in charge of ornaments.
I gently suggested they trace shapes with cookie cutters. Or attempt to freehand circles. Or cut something remotely ornament-like. But they preferred the pattern-free-and-with-abandon method, creating polygonal potpourri that any Cubist would be proud of.
They loved it. I loved that they loved it. And Bun loved to undecorate it. It was perfect.
In the end, we made five trips to five different cities. Lollipop completed approximately 2,219 puzzles. Giggles drew on the back seat with purple and green crayons. And Bun discarded about half a bag of Cheerios on the floorboard.
There was peace on earth … and in our silver Opel.
How do you keep your kids occupied in the car? Have you ever spent Christmas on vacation? And how many Disney movies is too many?
This post is part of MEP’s Real Women of Pinterest series. Join in as we celebrate collaborative creativity (and the power of glue guns).