Recently, my family of four took a trip from Washington DC, where we live, to Chicago, where I grew up. This is not a fun trip. Oh, it’s fun once we’re there, but getting there is a marathon with a 2 and 4 year old. There’s DVDs to put in and then fast forward, there’s straws to be put in juice boxes while driving 70 mph, there’s all the turning around and reaching for some toy that dropped and the girls insist they need instantly.
Since we make the trip a lot, I have some tricks up my sleeve that I find useful. My daughters, Hadley and Harper, each have kid sized backpacks with their names on them. I fill them with coloring books and crayons. They also both have small Dora the Explorer lunch box type purses that fit perfectly in their backpacks. I fill these with small toys – Polly Pockets, miniature dinosaurs, stickers, etc. These keep them entertained for at least the amount of time it takes for my Starbucks to cool down to drinkable status.
The other thing I do is raid the dollar aisle at Target. You can find great things to fill travel bags for the kids here. I usually buy several items then surprise the girls with them while we’re in the car, thus giving me adequate time to drink half of my Starbucks coffee.
This last trip, however, I wanted to do something more. Something creative. Something educational. Something awesome. Something that would allow me to drink all my coffee while it was still drinkable. So here’s what I did: I made a map for my oldest daughter, Hadley, to follow.
Hadley loved it. It was a fantastic tool for a little person who loves checking off things with stickers. It also helped Hadley look closely at the signs to see whether the letters matched what was on her map.
There was one thing I neglected to think about while planning this bodacious activity. That is, Hadley gets carsick. Specifically, Hadley gets carsick somethin’ awful on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. It is best for everyone if she does nothing except sleep or look out the window during this part of the trip. Looking closely at a map and then trying to match that to words on green signs while slaloming in the middle of mountains? Not a great idea.
Needless to say, we were pulled over on the side of the road before you could say, “Change of clothes.” And that is why the rest of the map was filled out in this outfit while we were at a rest stop in Indiana.
The thing is, moms, I don’t really know what I’m doing. But I do know this – I love my girls. I love pointing out the Chicago skyline to them as soon as I can see it. I love watching them play in the neighborhood parks that I used to play in when I was a kid. I love listening to them talk and play with their grandparents. And while I don’t look forward to dealing with a bored, tired, throwing up kid, I’ll deal with it. With or without a map.