10 Tips for Roadtripping Alone with 2 Toddlers
We recently had an issue with a flight being canceled. This resulted in me having to rent a car and drive from Houston, Texas to Pensacola, Florida with my 1 and 2-year-old by myself. OH and all we had with us was our diaper bag plus our Pockit Travel Stroller.
There is a long story about what how this situation transpired and you will be able to read about it soon!
SO, how did I do it and come out on the other side unscathed? Here are ten ways I managed in our unexpected situation!
BE REALISTIC ABOUT TRAVEL TIME: I was very honest with myself about how long it would take. The GPS claimed 8 hours, 3 minutes from our hotel. I laughed. Then I assumed it would be 12. It ended up being 10.5-11 hours. We left at 10:03 AM and arrived sometime between 8:30 & 9 PM. Being reasonable upfront helped me better cope with all the delays and extra potty stops along the way.
BE PREPARED TO STOP. A LOT: When I travel alone, I almost refuse to stop. I will starve, dehydrate or stretch my bladder to its absolute max before considering a stop. Seriously, I hate stopping because I just want to get where I am going. (can you see my Type A shining through?) However, this time….we stopped. A LOT. Let me put it like this: between Mississippi and getting home (14 miles into Florida) – we stopped 4 times. 4 times in 2.5 hours. In total, we stopped 9 times. With a potty trained 2-year-old, we stopped so many times for her to pee. SO. MANY. TIMES.
LIMIT LIQUIDS: Don’t get me wrong, let your kids drink water, but don’t make the rookie mistake I did. I gave my 2 year old a 9oz cup of half apple juice and half water with the warning “Do not chug this, just take sips” -- well, she was directly behind me in her carseat and knew I couldn’t reach the cup. She CHUGGED it. She handed the cup back about 90 seconds after I gave it to her and it was completely empty. We had about 3.5 hours left of the trip. I knew my fate.
PLAY & RUN: I stopped a little more than half way at Chick-Fi-La to let the kids play in the play place. We didn’t even eat there if I am being honest….just went to the play place and let them run free. And we used their bathrooms – twice. I highly suggest this as a go-to stop for young kids because you can eat/relax while they go crazy and get the jitters out. Latham napped hard after this stop. We also stopped at a rest stop just inside the Mississippi line and I let the kids RUN. I ran with them and told them to chase me and then pretended I was going to “get them” and they took off running. Latham napped about 30 minutes after this stop – a HUGE win. We also used their bathroom, of course.
MOVIES: Since I was alone with these two small humans and we had NO books & our toy stash was a whopping 3 plastic animal figurines (remember when I said all we had was our backpack? And we were supposed to go home on a PLANE and not in a CAR?), I turned on our iPad and shoved it between the two front seats for the kids to watch. This got us FAR. They actually sat and watched a couple movies entirely with minimal fuss. The silence was glorious.
THEY ARE GOING TO CRY: Whether they are crying for snacks, crying out of tiredness, crying for water or just crying to cry --- they are going to cry. I forced myself to accept this as soon as our wheels started moving and did not get upset when they fussed. I tried to comfort as much as I could from my driver seat, handed back snacks/drinks, handed back a lost pacifier or lovey, but mostly I just had to let them cry. I was very surprised at how short of a time they cried when I just turned my music up and ignored it.
MENTAL EXERSICE: Kids can break you down mentally. All parents know this. They are tiny mind melders. SO, to keep me from pulling over and saying “I quit” – I set mental goals. Get to Mile 175 before stopping, get to the nearest Starbucks before I pull over to find one of 5 pacifiers my son threw, get AT LEAST 25 miles down the road before we stop for Charletta to pee – again, etc. You get it. I was surprised at how quickly the time passed when I set, then met these goals. Only 2 or 3 times did we absolutely HAVE to pull off when I wasn’t ready. I consider that a mental win.
SNACKS: We skipped breakfast before getting our rental car because I knew I was going to stop at Buccees outside of Houston. I love that place. Since we had NO snacks left from our horrendous travel day the day before, we had to stock up. I grabbed a little bit of everything, including 2 things my kids will be very quiet for: Chocolate Chip Cookies & Gummy Candy. I hoarded those two for when they both were having a fit simultaneously. It worked like a charm. (And helped me get to my “mental goal” stops – huge parent win)
SING: Both of my kids like it when I sing their songs. Between movies, I would break out and sing every single kid song I knew. I sang loud and crazily. A few times, I think I heard them laughing and a couple times I could faintly hear Charletta singing along. I sang until they cried like every good mom does. It bought me precious minutes and miles.
YOU DO YOU: In the last 3 hours, I gave up on caring what ANYONE thought of us. I had wet clothes hanging all over the car from me hand-washing them in the hotel the night before. By my 5th stop, Latham had no shoes on. By the 6th stop, Charletta had no shoes & Latham now also had no pants. (Diaper + t-shirt only) By stop 7, I quit caring completely and would put a baby on each hip and run into the gas station so C could pee. Sounds impossible, but I made a game out of it and I would make race car sounds to add to our crazy. I realized at some point that no one would know we had been on the road for 9-10-11 hours, so why would I care what they thought of my pantless, shoeless kids?
Before this road trip, I dreaded the day I would have to put my two toddlers in the car by myself and drive a long distance. Neither of them loves the car and my 2-year-old WILL NOT sleep in the car. I imagined at least 10-11 hours of screaming with one hour of silences because of snacks. That was not the case at all. These two babes surprised the hell out of me. They were TROOPERS. We had a very late night the night before, but neither of them cried even ONCE when I rallied them back into their carseats after each stop. Yes, they each had a couple fits in the car, but they were short lived or easily fixed. I am 31-year-old and I considered crying a few times over those two days, so the fact that my babes went with every curveball thrown our way was IMPRESSIVE.
If you’ve conquered a USA Road Trip - check out all the tips on an Australian Road Trip!
Now I want an RV so I can roadtrip all over the US with them and my husband is just rolling his eyes. Too confident? Nahhhhh
Have you ever roadtripped alone with multiple toddlers? Let us know in the comments!
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