Tips to Road Trip with Kids – For Real People

Thinking about taking a road trip across country with the kids and looking for some tips? Are you hoping to connect and bond with those adorable offspring as well as cross some items off of your bucket list? Well, you have come to the right place! I’m pretty much an expert in this field (self-described) as we’ve just come back from our 6th annual Family Road Trip Extravaganza. I thought I would jot down some helpful tips while still fresh in my memory for anyone in need.

Headed out
Headed out on the open road with fresh-faced excitement!

 

  1. Two months before the trip: Sit down with your significant other with Google maps and decide where you are going. Talk about all the historical sites you are going to see, the “off the beaten paths” you are going to take, and long winding roads leading to the gorgeous scenery you will explore as a family. Then scrap that fantasy and re-map a plan that includes all highway driving to get you as quickly as possible from one hotel to another. One with a pool and a separate bedroom door that you can lock.
  2. One month before the trip: Scour Pinterest for “Best Road Trip Activities for Kids,”  and purpose in your naive little brain to do every one of them. Next, blow your entire trip budget on Amazon purchasing books, car games, crayons, coloring books, markers, binders, headphones, legos, Mad Libs, and literally any other random “car activity” thing they offer. It doesn’t really matter because about an hour into the trip the crayons will be broken and strewn around your car, your kids will be fighting over car scavenger hunt and you’ll probably have Lego’s permanently embedded into your vehicle. On second thought, save some money and just buy yourself some earplugs.
  3. One week before the trip: Pack busy bags with above trip paraphernalia while lecturing your kids about not rotting their brains by limited screen time on this trip. Point out to them the incredible opportunity to learn and grow as a family. Put together state fact sheets, math facts, and any other historical information sheets for the kids to color and fill out. Include a journal so they can keep track of all of their adventures. When you get to your first destination throw everything together in a pile outside of the car, douse with gas, and set on fire.
  4. Two days before the trip: Pull out a duffle bag or suitcase for each family member. Meticulously gather clothing for however many days you will be between a laundromat. Thoughtfully put outfits together for each child to wear that will correspond to each days destination. Then wad everything up and throw in whichever bag. Trust me. By day 5 you will notice your kids probably haven’t changed their clothes since you left-ketchup stains and all, your car will smell like feet, and no one has actually bathed since leaving. Unless you count hotel pools as a bath. Which I do.
  5. Trip kickoff day! Parent must-haves: Gum, coffee, a good GPS system, music or podcasts chosen, coffee, earplugs, a sense of humor, coffee, and an electric cattle prod that reaches all the way to the back seat. Don’t judge. You were looking for tips, remember?
  6. On the road – What to expect: Day 1 – The first 10 minutes. Silence. Awesome. Whatever you do, do not start congratulating yourself here. They are just ripping through those busy bags that you put together. State and math facts? They’re going on the floor to be crushed underfoot along with the crayons at every potty stop. Everything else is just being manhandled by little hands. Once they realize that their choices are reading and license plate bingo, you will be assailed with the questions. “Are we almost there yet?” “How many more hours.” “I have to go potty.” Do not, I repeat, Do NOT, under any circumstances, answer any question. You will set a precedence. Just threaten to stay at a hotel with no pool.
  7. Rot your bains
    Rotting our brains.

    On the road – More what to expect: Somewhere around day 7-10. You will lose your mind. Then, you will throw every piece of electronics in the car, from tablets to DVD remote, at them and command them, in Batman’s voice, to “Go ahead and ROT YOUR BRAIN!”

  8. If you’ve made it this far, you might be having a change of heart. Please don’t. Car road trips with your kids are truly amazing. Yes, they are exhausting and can be frustrating and even frightening. Just try taking your 3-year-old who wants to touch everything into potty at pretty much any gas station. You will have nightmares for a week.

Seriously, it is all worth it. To see their eyes light up at first sight of the ocean. To watch them marvel at amazement at God’s handiwork in the mountains. To hear them chatter with each other and listen to their little stories. Yes, some things get old like trying to explain how far 250 miles is to a 7-year-old or how long 2 hours is to a 3-year-old. And yes, my car still smells like a strange mixture of feet and burgers but I would do it all over again. I look forward to these trips every year. It’s a time for my husband and me to connect with the kids and each other and to drink way too much coffee. A time to enjoy each other and just be.

If the opportunity presents itself to road trip with your kids, do it! Don’t be overwhelmed. Remember, we’re parents. We can do anything. At least in our kids’ eyes and with plenty of Jesus and coffee.

we're done
We were so done!

 

A Letter to My Birthday Girl

My Darling Girl,

Thirteen years ago, when you were placed on my chest, warm, wet, and full of life I did not see this moment. I only saw my first born baby girl with perfect bow-shaped lips and tiny fingers and toes. I felt the intense rush of motherly love burn fierce and hot in my chest to the point that for just a moment, I could not breathe. I held you tightly and inhaled baby smells and at that moment, we became a family. But I did not see how quickly the years would rush by me. One on top of another, faster and faster. Birthdays and bounce houses, hair bows and Converse, first crushes, contacts, braces, hormones. An avalanche of life lived between sleepless nights, made possible only by Jesus and copious amounts of coffee. I did not see the moment where I am now, watching you balance on this thresh hold before us. Between womanhood and childhood, you stand. Oh, linger just a little longer, sweet girl and let me share a little of my heart for you, with you.

In a few short years you will more than likely be ready to tumble out of our little tree and into the world. We’re doing our best to prepare your heart and spirit for the journey ahead. We try to live out our faith by example, to pour truth into your spirit to be used as a roadmap and the Word into your heart to light your way when the path is dark and hard to see. I pray that no matter where that path leads you that Jesus remains the captain of your soul and the very anchor to which you cling.

My hope is that you also would remember that your dress size, your bank account, and your address are all just numbers that change and fluctuate with the seasons of your life but who you are in Christ is as certain as the rising of the sun. The fact that you were made exquisitely in the image of Him who created all, will never change. Your worth is summed up not in monetary treasure, physical ability, or beauty but in the simple fact that you are of great worth to Him. Pay no heed to the voices of this world, that pull and scream and try to tell you what beauty and success look like. Strive instead to abide by the identity that you have in Jesus which comes with a great peace that no one or nothing can diminish.

fayes

I pray that you will be challenged, provoked, and stirred throughout your life. That complacency would never be your friend and that you will remember that life owes you nothing. Precious things, things of substance and great value must be sought after, worked for, and dug out. I pray that God will surround you with Godly friends and those that will also sharpen and provoke your faith, strengthen your walk and remind you that our ultimate goal in this life is to become like Christ.

Which leads me to this final thought on your birthday – When we become like Christ we love like Him. Compassion and dignity should be second nature to us. Remember the advice given in James, “be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to wrath.” Be even quicker to forgive. Prefer your brothers and sisters. Bear the burdens of those around you. Respect boundaries and set your own. Always say what you mean and mean what you say. Live out the Word of God and above all, stand for truth, even if it appears you stand alone. Because you are never alone. When you stand for truth, all of heavens army backs you. And ultimately, truly loving others like Christ means speaking the truth with all grace and kindness. You won’t always be liked or popular but neither was Jesus. You’re in good company. fayepaselfie

As I watch you now, feeling your way through adolescence, I stand in amazement at the young woman you have become. What a gift you are! Your beautiful tender heart, your inquisitive mind, your tenacious spirit. My girl, so full of passion and determination, I am proud to be your mother. Never forget how much you are loved. You may tumble out of the nest but always remember that wherever Daddy and I are there is a safe place to land. Happy birthday to my teenager.

sunkissed