Friday, April 06, 2012

Tips for Maintaining Your Sanity on Family Car Trips

With more families driving for spring/summer travel than ever before thanks to rising airline costs and a stagnant economy, how can parents drive long distances with kids in tow, while staying sane in the process? National mom expert Stacy DeBroff, CEO of MomCentral and author of The Mom Book, offers up these tips for family car trips so you won’t be scurrying for painkillers in order to make it across a few state lines:

Busting Up Back-Seat Fights: Don’t wait until the squabbling starts in the back seat -- prevent it before it takes on a life of its own. Place soft luggage or a diaper bag between kids to create boundaries:

Ø Smaller luggage works in between kids less prone to in-car duels and can double as a surface for playing cards and games.
Ø Taller luggage creates “a wall divider” that helps you avoid hearing choruses of “He keeps looking at me!”
Ø Likewise, bring along individual snack packs to avoid the tug-of-war that comes with shared snacks.

Don’t Leave Behind Mission-Critical Items: You don’t want to be entering the Turnpike when you realize you’ve left your tween’s iPod on the kitchen table or forgotten your toddler’s favorite stuffed animal, your cell phone, or soft pillows to help the kids snooze away the miles. And for those inevitable in-car messes, don’t forget to bring along multiple trash bags, as well as items such as Wet Ones to clean kids’ hands on the go. Make sure to put post-it notes on your car’s steering wheel for key reminders!

Let Us Entertain You! Ensure in-car sanity by packing up a diverse array of entertainment items. A recent Mom Central survey showed that 48% of families bring along a DVD player or video for the car, and 40% travel with a Nintendo DS. While DVDs and electronic games work wonders, make sure to bring other “all-car” activities. Get a couple of audio books that appeal to the whole family such as Harry Potter or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. And don’t forget classics like the license plate game, making up stories about the people you pass, and finding all the alphabet letters in sequence based on road signs you pass (x and z can be a challenge)! Visit a small neighborhood educational toy store for some new, quiet car-related games.

Time to Hand Over Your Smartphone or iPad: Kids love the games and apps, especially on the iPhone and the iPad, and you can preload your phone with some cool ones from the app store before you go. New holders enable you to attach an iPad to the headrest of a front seat. In fact, 39% of parents plug kids into their Smartphones while on the go, and 26% of parents bring along an iPad or other tablet device.

Tune Kids in to the Scenery: Nothing proves more frustrating than a kid in an electronic game haze while the Rockies pass by unnoticed out the car window. Schedule some technology downtime so kids can observe their surroundings, spot animals along the way, or discover bridges and cool rock formations.

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