Going back to my traveling tips posts, today I write about car survival. I’ve mentioned in a previous post that I greatly prefer to travel by car with the kids rather than by plane. So how do we manage to drive for 2 or 3 days and keep everyone happy?
One year for Christmas, shortly before traveling to Disney World, each child received a backpack. Inside each pack was a pencil case, coloring book and, a road trip bingo game. Shortly before leaving each child added books, travel board games, and a favorite stuffed animal or doll. Everyone was given colored pencils (crayons can melt in the car) for their pencil bags as well as erasers. We went to Costco and bought snack size chips, crackers, granola bars, and cookies. Each child picked a few snacks for their backpack and I refilled once or twice a day as necessary. I have found that keeping the kids well-fed makes for a much happier day.
We are fortunate enough to have a DVD player in our minivan so I stock a CD carrying case with our favorite movies and TV shows. At home we limit screen-time, but on the road we are a little more liberal with the time. The kids are very happy watching their favorite shows and snacking. Our mp3 player comes in handy as well for playing all our favorite music. Some of our favorites include the Disneymania music, or any Disney soundtrack. We even try to theme the music to where we are traveling. For example when we drive through Texas we listen to our favorite George Strait Texas songs, or a trip through Oklahoma has us listening to the Oklahoma! soundtrack.
When not doing any of the above things or napping (even the big kids get sleepy in the car) we also play car games. We keep track of how many license plates we see from other states, the alphabet game w
here we look for each letter of the alphabet in order on billboards and signs, and “I’m going on a trip” game.
To save a little money and to allow breaks for running around, we pack our lunch and stop at rest areas rather than going to a restaurant. There are many rest areas, especially in Texas, that have playgrounds so we stop there to eat and get some exercise. I also pack our big 5-gallon water jug in the car full of iced water. I keep it within arms-reach of my seat and can refill water bottles as needed. I bring the individual serving Hawaiian Punch or Crystal Light lemonade powders to add to the drinks occasionally as well.
Since all of my children are in car seats or booster seats, it can be difficult for them to reach forward to get snacks or water bottles that I want to pass to them. One of the best solutions I have come up with is to purchase one of those grabbers that is often advertised for the elderly or disabled to reach thing on high shelves. I can then easily pass back items to the third row while my husband continues to drive so we don’t have to pull over or remove a seat belt. This is by far the best car tool we own.
I have to admit that not everyone is happy 100% of the time. Kids (and parents) get tired, cooped up, and bored. But we’ve managed to find a way to make the trip mostly enjoyable with minimal upset.
My husband and i are in what we like to call “survival mode.” A basic description of survival mode is we just do the bare minimum to get by. With 5 kids under the age of seven, one of whom is 5 1/2 week old, we are just trying to get by. This means we eat a lot of freezer meals made before our son was born. We use paper plates to minimize dishes. Laundry is still done but ironing is not. Basic chores such as bathroom cleaning and vacuuming get accomplished, but we only do what is absolutely necessary. Many things get left undone. And still we lay down in our beds at night completely exhausted. As our baby grows and begins to sleep longer at night, we will graduate from survival mode into chaos mode. Since we started having children I don’t think we’ve ever been out of chaos mode. Sometimes getting 5 small children organized and out the door is like herding cats!
But none of this is meant to be a complaint. We are grateful and happy for these blessings. So while the day-to-day survival can be frustrating and exhausting, we wouldn’t trade it for anything. One day our babies will be all grown up and we will look back on these days with happy memories and wish we had them back!
It’s been many weeks since the last post, mostly because life has gotten busy. By my doctor’s suggestion, leading up our son’s birth, I was encouraged to “take it easy.” I wasn’t officially on bed rest, but since my OB is very laid back, this was probably her version of putting me on rest. So did I take it easy? I probably didn’t do it nearly as much as my husband would have wanted. It’s hard to take it easy while homeschooling and taking care of 4 small children. But my husband worked from home for a while and took over some schooling, and I did get some rest.
Sunday, February 16 was our standard Sunday schedule. We woke early for 7:30 AM Mass. After Mass we came home for breakfast and my husband took the kids to the park so I could take a nap. I woke from my nap while they were still at the park, and I did not feel well. I took my blood pressure and it was very high. Shortly after my family came through the door. My husband only had to take one look at my face and he knew we were going to the hospital. I gave my parents a heads-up and then called the on-call doctor. She recommended I go to the hospital to monitor my blood pressure.
We quickly packed up some clothes and toys for the kids and headed out the door. My parents live only a few minutes from the hospital so we dropped off children and made our way over. The nurses had been instructed that if I had even one high blood pressure reading when I got there, I was to be admitted and induced. It only took a few minutes for the nurses to get 3 high readings and I was told, yes, today was the day.
A few short hours later our little Giovanni Nicolaus was born 11 days early. He weighed in at 7 lbs. 15 oz. and 19 1/4 inches. He’s now 2 1/2 weeks old and already I can’t imagine life without him. We are adjusting well, his big brothers and sisters love him, and he fits right into this family!