We did it. Over 12 hours in a car in a 72 hour period. And guess what? It was pleasant. So for all you naysayers who told me it could not be done, alas, it can and was.
We went to Montreal for the long weekend to visit family. It was really important to us to go, and we’d been putting it off for months (sometimes out of fear, sometimes due to sickness). We needed a car to get around, so we opted to drive instead of take the train or fly. I’ve been crazy anxious about it now for quite some time. O often says “I wanna get out” after 10 minutes in the car, so I had visions of 6 hours straight of screaming and tantrums, but she didn’t have a single one. I guess I don’t give her enough credit, because she was an angel. She slept in a pack and play (!!!) for 12 hours straight each night, and handled being car-bound like a champ.
Here are some of the strategies that I found particularly helpful in making for an easy trip.
Dear Frozen, how did two year olds take car trips before you?
Using the iPad for movies. O watched Frozen on the way there, and Finding Nemo on the way back (with some more Frozen sprinkled in for good measure). This kept her occupied intermittently for up to two hours, and also helped her fall asleep.
Praying to the nap gods. Many people say to have lunch and leave afterwards during nap time, so that you can ensure they sleep. That being said, we left at 9 am on the way there, and O still slept (albeit from 11:30-12:30 which is *not* normal nap time). On the way home we left at nap time, and once again she only slept an hour. I guess that’s her car nap threshold. But it was okay, because she was still in good spirits regardless.
All. The. Snacks. O has an affinity for Starbucks breakfast sandwiches, and this one kept her occupied for a good 30 minutes. Warning: 12 hours of car snacking in a brand new car is bound to leave it disgusting. Bring wipes, buy a seat protector (whoops didn’t do that one), hell, bring a dustbuster.
I also recommend some cheap new toys, colouring books and those markers that only work on special paper, and TONS of stickers.
Frequent stops are also a must. We stopped 3 times each way (every 2 hours), for pee breaks and to run around. Initially we wanted O to wear diapers and not worry about this whole potty training thing, but the stubborn bat refuses to wear them. So we put her in pull ups, and every couple of hours, daddy (her requested pee buddy) would take her to the bathroom. We also chose our rest stops strategically. We went to McDonalds to play in their indoor play area (shudder, yes, but necessary), and one rest stop we went to had an outdoor playground. She had to exert some energy, and this worked well for us all.
Lastly, I would consider a shit ton of Gravol. If you’re like me, and get car sick, you’ll need it. I refused to sit in the back with O, but some moms like to do this I guess. For me, it was easier to just pass her stuff from the front. Well, my strategy backfired, because I think I spent more time turning backwards than actually facing forwards. Barf city. This is probably the biggest sacrifice I’ve made, but it kept her happy and quiet, and that was a parenting win.
So yes, parents of toddlers who are avoiding long car rides out of fear, I get it. But I promise you it’s not as bad as you anticipate. It’s a lot of work, but you’ll be thrilled once you reach your destination.
Also, this post has been entirely too positive, so allow me to end on this note. I go back to work tomorrow. I hate you all. XO