We had been driving for a few hours and all was surprisingly calm. That is until my eyes started to water and a terrible smell hit me in the face. At lightning speed the windows went down, the air conditioner came off recirculate and the obligatory question got asked – who farted?
Road trips with boys are always an adventure. There are exploding nappies and roadside toilet stops, constant hunger, dropped toys, technology malfunctions, teenage sulking and toddler meltdowns.
Don’t fear! There are things you can do to help you survive and even enjoy your next road trip.
Mutiny in the back
When you put siblings in a confined space for a long time, it is likely there will be a meltdown, mutiny or scuffle of some kind.
Here are some sanity savers.
- Start singing the Frozen song “Let it Go” (or some other song they hate) VERY LOUDLY! It can be enough of a distraction to diffuse the situation. Sometimes it will make the boys band together as they have a common cause to stop mum singing. Just let it go and try not to stress about whatever is happening in the back.
- Separate them with pillows. This can go one of two ways. Either it works or it turns into a pillow fight!
- If you have a baby that won’t settle, sit next to them in the back. They might just want a bit of mum or dad time.
- Distraction is the name of the game! Have a toy, book, game, food or something hidden in the front with you to hand over if the tension is mounting.
When all else fails, pull over and take a break.
Tip: Allow yourself extra time so that if the wheels fall off in the back and you need to take some extra stops, its okay. Better to get there safely and relatively sanely than not at all.
Food, glorious food
Food is essential for any road trip with boys. From experience, we’ve learnt you’re better off packing everyone a lunch box full of food than you are to plan a break at a café or fast food joint along the way. When boys of any age are hungry, you won’t find peace until they have food.
Keep the sugary foods to a minimum. Boys bouncing around the car on a sugar high is not fun. For anyone who gets even a little bit of motion sickness, leave the fatty food for later.
Tip: If your boys eat everything at once like our boys do and you’re travelling all day, separate food into two or more containers for each boy. Simply throw them in the back when they’re hungry and keep driving.
How often you have to stop will depend on how old your boys are, how big everyone’s bladder is and how everyone is feeling on the day.
Open spaces should become your new best friend. Stopping at the highway service centre usually doesn’t cut it to get rid of energy and pent-up frustration. Instead, try to look for a sporting field, park or playground and let them run.
Take a quick look at the route you’re going to be travelling and work out some places you may be able to stop. You may find some attractions that are perfect for a quick drop in.
Tip: Pack a ball in the car, so even if there’s nothing else to do when you stop, they can still get rid of some energy.
When it comes to keeping boys busy in the backseat, every child, parent and family make-up is different.
Here is what has worked for us since the boys were toddlers.
The day before a trip, the boys are given one tub to fill with toys and books that will sit between them on the spare seat. When they go to bed, I go through what they chose and take out anything that is going to drive me crazy. I then refill it with things like cars, action figures, dinosaurs and animals. On a long road trip, as an incentive to behaving, we also let the boys watch a movie or play games on the iPad.
Tip: Don’t bring anything they fight over at home.
Essential road trip supplies
Here are some essentials to keep within arms distance in the car or the boot on your next road trip.
- Lots of food
- Water – always pack extra in case you get stuck in traffic or breakdown
- Wipes – no matter how old your boys are, plenty of wipes are essential
- A few plastic grocery bags – for rubbish, dirty clothes, etc
- Toilet paper – you never know when you’ll have an emergency roadside stop
- Small first aid kit – for when someone falls over in the car park or playground
- Spare set of clothes – essential for babies and toddlers but also a good idea to make sure they are accessible in the boot for older boys.
- If you have a baby, you have a whole host of other things to bring like nappies, nappy cream, more wipes, and lots more plastic bags.
Road trips might be getting you from point A to point B but there’s no reason you can’t make some memories along the way.
Go and get packing. It will all be worth it in the end!