Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Road trip with 7 kids!

Our kids are used to spending a few hours at a time in the car, but three days of nearly all day driving is a whole other story. I've been so focused on preparing our home for the move and getting ready for the new baby (and then enjoying him, and recovering!) that I have not done much to prepare for a road trip with 7 kids. I have a few simple things that I've put together that should make the trip run smoothly.

This bin is always in the car, under the first bench in the van where I can easily reach it. It contains some "emergency" activities, extra diapers and a back up outfit that will fit either one of the little girls.

I'll be passing out the etch-a-sketchs, stickers, lacing activities, and activity books from time to time while we are on the road. These are all simple to keep on hand and since we don't pull them out regularly they are a treat for the kids when we truly need them!

My mom picked up metal water bottles for the whole family last year, and the kids all enjoy drinking out of them. I love that the little girls' bottles are sippy cup style so I don't have to worry about them spilling. I'll keep a couple of jugs of water in the van and ration out the water in reasonable amounts that will keep the kids hydrated without the need for constant bathroom stops.

Since I tend to do most diaper changes in the car when we are on trips (instead of public bathrooms, yuck!) I thought it may be wise to pack up a diaper caddy. This will keep everything I need for diaper changes (for a newborn and toddler) handy without having to dig through the diaper bag. I'll keep the diaper bag stocked for taking into our longer stops (like visits with family/friends and over night stops). I think I throw a small receiving blanket (to use as a changing pad) and a burp cloth or two in there as well.

Snacks can really help things go well on a trip with little ones (and not so little ones!). Having some healthy (and yummy) snacks on hand will help us keep from picking up junk when we stop for gas or hold us over when its just a little farther than we thought until the next stop for a meal.
I'm packing some cookies (made with whole wheat pastry flour, natural peanut butter, very little sugar, oatmeal and a few chocolate chips), string cheese, fresh fruit, and most likely some treats like fruit snacks and cereal.

Where you stop along the way can be very important. We try to stop at places where the kids will be able to stretch their legs. We love quick stops at rest stops for the kids to run around a bit. We always keep an eye out for a place with a play land to stop for lunch, its a nice treat for the kids (the food) AND they get to get some energy out (and then the little ones will nap for a while in the car!). On this trip we actually have family and friends to visit along the way so the kids will get to stretch their legs a bit at those stops. When we stay at a hotel we try to get one with a pool so that the kids can go swimming.

Matching clothes help us keep track of the kids and make it obvious to others that we belong together. It also makes the kids look extra cute! Making sure the kids look nice makes people in restaurants and hotels happier to see our large family. The matching outfits tend to put a smile on other people's faces; they see past the number of kids long enough to notice that these are well loved and well behaved children!

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