I wrote this for a local magazine today and wanted to share it here as well. Enjoy! --Sadie
So the last two weeks I have written about the importance of making good choices regarding road trip food and road trip entertainment when you have kids involved. A successful road trip, especially if you are crazy like me and decide to take multi-hour road trips with your kids and no husband to help, is comprised of those two basic things: food and entertainment. Don’t be fooled by a need for elaborate itineraries detailing when and where you will stop to pee, to eat, to stretch your legs. Don’t ever plan on being anywhere on time. In fact, if you have an 8 hour car ride ahead of you, you might as well plan to be on the road for at least 12 full hours before making that final glorious exit from the car door. Kids on the road are just like that, unpredictable and slow. So I guess my very final word of advice about child-laden road trips is all about flexibility and patience.
You aren’t going to get any further than your local gas station if you can’t be flexible. Because if you aren’t the universe will inevitably decide to smack you upside the head and when you do pull in to your local gas station, that final familiar stop before heading out on the open road, miles stretching before you, iron-clad itinerary in hand…if you do that, if you start that way, then I will bet that as soon as you pull into the gas station down the street from your house your kid will pipe up with, “Mom. I gotta pee.” And poof, there goes your happy plan, flying out the open door as you begin all the logistical horrors the come along with getting two kids out of the car, into the bathroom and back in the car.
And let me just say this while we are on the subject: You might as well drop all qualms about germs before you leave the house. We all know that gas station bathrooms are plain nasty, but for whatever reason, maybe a biological requirement to drive their parents crazy, but kids never have to pee when you are in a nice clean truck stop. They always need to pee NOW when the only bathroom within two hours is a squatty gray-ish building run by a toothless man named Clem. The bathroom is out the back and seems to be covered in about 10 years worth of other people’s nether-region liquids. And inevitably, your kid will need to poop at Clem’s gas station and while you are trying to get your eldest wiped and wash her hands, your youngest will pull your sunglasses out of your purse and nonchalantly toss them in the toilet.
Patience and flexibility. I cannot say it enough. These are your keys to survival. You never know what’s going to happen on the road. You may make it all the way to Amarillo, TX with nary a peep from your precious angel children and then all of a sudden get slammed by a thunderstorm that pops up out of nowhere, leaving you blind and denting your car with devil hail. You may have to then pull into a combination Shell Station/Subway and sit in the aisles for over an hour with your 15 month old in tow, trying to keep her entertained with the workers glare at you with ugly eyes because you let her play with a bouncy ball.
Your kids may insist that the only time they will sleep in the entire 8 hours you are driving is the 5 minutes just before you have to stop and pee. They may scream through all ofBernalillo County,New Mexico. They may decide that all of a sudden they hate Goldfish crackers and are going to throw the ones they have stuck in their seat at the beck of your head, timed intermittently every 5-9 minutes for the next hour. These things just happen, but if you lose your wits, your crazy kids and the road…they will win. And you can’t let that happen. You’ve got to come out the champion in the end, the woman who conquered all ofOklahomaandTexasand a significant portion ofArkansasandNew Mexicotoo. You’ve got to finally pull up to your destination, weak-legged and nearly foaming at the mouth from the yelling contest that just took place in the back seat, but triumphant regardless.
You’ve got to get out of that loud stinky death trap car, stretch your back and let out a wild she-wolf yell, stopping all the passers-by in their tracks to stare at you in wonder, because you? You are totally awesome for what you just accomplished.