Tuesday, May 24, 2011

My Final Adventure?

Today, I'm embarking on an adventure that I'm not sure I'll survive.  My mother and I, along with the three younger children, aged 22 months, 4 years, and 6 years, are driving to Cincinnati to attend my oldest son's sixth grade graduation and to bring him back to Michigan for the summer.  Mapquest says it should take 4 hours and 49 minutes to reach our destination.  That's more than 9 1/2 hours round trip!  Three little children in the car for more than 9 1/2 hours in. One. Day!

See why I'm doubting whether I'll still be here tomorrow? 

Sure, we probably could have flown.  Or we could have split the trip up by driving down one day, getting a hotel room for the night (as busy butts as these kids are, there is no way we could have gone camping without a whole flock of adults to keep them out of trouble!), but both of those options would have cost a lot more, so it ain't happenin'!

Instead, I have a different plan.  Each child has packs to entertain them.  Not just one bag or backpack, because I know how that one goes: 

Start time:  Everyone gets in the car.  The children immediately get everything out of their bag.
2 minutes later:  about half the bag's contents are strewn around the van, but they are still amused for the.moment
1 hour later:  "MOM, WE'RE BORED" or they are beating each other up or fighting or screaming about something.

Nuh uh!  Not going to happen this trip!

I had the 6 year old and 4 year old each select toys and books to put in not one, but two bags each.  Then, I took the bags into my room, locked the door, and put more stuff in them.  Stuff that the kids picked out at Bargain Books and the dollar store a couple weeks ago and were immediately hid away so they don't remember what exactly they are getting.  This should prevent them from coveting whatever is in the bag they don't currently have.  I had the kids put together a bag of toys and books for the "baby" too (not pictured because I forgot to take a picture before sticking in the van, but it is mostly smallish toys like cars, dinosaurs, and Fisher Price Little People, along with a few board books), but I figure one ought to last him, since a good chunk of the trip is going to fall in his regular sleep time, so that is kind of like a second bag.
My daughter (age 4) chose a number of toys she already had and I added a magnetic dress up book, workbook, fishing game, bubbles, crayons, coloring pages, stickers, a "bug watch", and play necklaces

My son (age 6) only chose books for his bags.  I added play money, "bug watch", bubbles, crayons, mechanical pencils, and a number of coloring/activity/workbooks.  A lot of his stuff is actually his "school" work for the week, but I won't tell him if you don't!
My plan is to have them each have one bag next to them in the seat to start off.  I'm hoping that will keep them more or less entertained for about half the trip down.  Then, we'll break somewhere in there for potty, diaper change, and play.  There is another pack that they don't know about in the back of the van that has fun things to do during our play stop, including a large ball for them to run around with and ginormous bubble blowers.  After the break, they'll be able to get their second bag, which I hope will keep them entertained for the rest of the trip down. 

We're meeting my son and dad (and I think his dad's girlfriend) for dinner before the graduation, so between that, the graduation, and loading my eldest's stuff in the van, it will be close to 9pm before we start back, so I figure that whatever they still like from the trip down will keep them entertained until it gets dark. 

Once it is dark, there is yet another bag in the back of the van that includes nocturnal things, like a flashlight or two, field guides on constellations, and some glow sticks.  Between that stuff, snacking, and hopefully some sleeping, that should get us home again.  Hopefully. 
A cooler full of snacks (kept where we can reach it from the front seat, but the littles can't get into it unsupervised) should help keep people happy for the whole trip.
I'm hoping to get tomorrow's post done on the road (yay, netbook!), so a post from me tomorrow won't necessarily mean I made it back.  Keep your fingers crossed (and be sure to check back here) for a post on Thursday so you know we made it. 

Wish us luck!


  1. Good luck! You are wise to hand out the distractions piecemeal ;-)

  2. DVD players for the car are your best friend on long trips....

  3. We used to have portable DVD player that my husband won at his old job, but the kids broke it. No way am I going to spend that kind of money on something that the kids will break so easily!