Friday, June 28, 2013

Car Trips With Kids - Reduce the Chaos!!

"Are we there yet?"
"I'm hungry!"
"He's on my side!"
"He's looking at me!"
"I need to potty!"
"Don't make me stop this car!"

"He stuck his tongue out at me!"
"He's too loud!  SHUT UP!!"
"He took my toy!"
"Quieten down, or I will turn this car around!"

Does this conversation sound familiar?  Being the mother of 3 boys, I know how stressful and chaotic it can be to go on long car trips to the beach with children.

Here's my best "tried and true" tips:

Quarters for Sanity

Fortunately, I was a "Stay at Home" Mom when my boys were small.  This situation, however, necessitated a very strict budget, so vacations had to be carefully planned and saved-up for.  We kept a "Money Jar" for loose change and used that money for extra spending money for our annual trip to Myrtle Beach.  The boys absolutely loved to go to the arcade and play video games, and that always took a lot of quarters!

Loose change certainly adds up!

One year while I was dreading the car-trip chaos, I had a major brainstorm:

Exchange the loose change for rolls of quarters!!  

Those rolls of quarters would be earned by our boys for good behavior on our trip, and given to them when we reached our destination!!  I told the boys about the plan, and they were excited!!  

We took the accumulated heavy jars and bags of loose coins to the bank, and a clerk put the money in the "Change Machine" to determine the total amount.  There was enough money for 4 rolls of quarters and some left over. That was my goal:  each son could earn a roll of quarters for the arcade video games or whatever he wished - up to $10.00!  There was even a roll of quarters for Dad, but he had to be good on the trip, also!

The price of sanity!

Of course, we packed the usual toys, games, and snacks for the long trip, but the main thing to deter inappropriate behavior was the quarters.  When there was a minor problem, that child was warned.  If the misbehavior continued, he would lose one quarter.  Major problems were a definite, "You just lost a quarter!"  

There was a definite improvement in behavior on that car trip, and very few quarters were "lost".  Fortunately I had the foresight to save the additional quarters to be earned on the trip back home, which also made a positive difference.  Each year following, we made the annual trip to the bank with our accumulated "loose change" and exchanged it for rolls of quarters to be earned on our trip to the beach.

Jeff & Joshua - 2 "Super-Cool" beach guys!

Jacob makes a "splash" at the pool!!

This summer we are going on a long car trip with 3 of our grand-kids.  Can you guess what I'm doing?  I'm getting the quarters ready!

Grand-kids & money bags

Ms. Nancy's Additional Tips For Car Trips:
  • Each child packs a small tote bag containing clipboard, drawing pad, washable crayons, pencils, coloring book, stickers, travel magnetic games, and small toys.  If it doesn't fit, it doesn't go!
  • A bag with pockets can be put over the headrests to contain additional items:  wipes, tissues, band-aids, small trash bags, etc. 
  • Snacks - Non-messy like Gold-fish crackers, Wheat Thins, granola bars, grapes, etc.  No chocolate!  (I once had M&Ms crushed on the seat of my new car - big mess & permanent stain!)
  • Water and juice boxes (apple preferred - less staining) 
  • Orange Tic Tacs (to be given for treats)
  • Portable DVD Player with extra screen and/or ear phones - great for "calming the car down"!!
  • According to kids, Technology Rules! Take turns with I-Pads, etc. as rewards. Old cell phones - If the games still work, take it!
  • Kid's Sing-Along CDs
  • The "Old Fashioned Games" still work! Do you remember "Count the license plates" (Each chooses a different state.), "Count the cars"? (Each chooses a different color), and a favorite in my husband's family, "Zip, horse"?
  • Be creative; make up your own games and rewards!
My boys at the beach

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