Tuesday, June 1, 2010

If You Teach a Mom a lesson...traveling with kids

It's Tuesday again! That means that it's time for If You Teach a Mom a Lesson with The Crayon Wrangler. I was so excited when I found out the topic for this week! Traveling with kids!
We have lived about 3 hours from our families for the last 14ish years. During that time we have made that trip an average of once every other month. We have had at least one child for the past 12 of those years. Also, I spent 4 years commuting 40+ miles each way 5 days a week with 2-3 children.
I have definitely learned a lesson or two about traveling with children.

When traveling in the van with children, the first thing you'll need to do is clean out your van. Make sure you do a really good job. Go as far as to take the seats when you vacuum to make sure your van is sparkling when you arrive at grandma's house.

Since your van is now sparkling clean, make sure that you feed the children their lunch at home so that you don't risk any stray french fries stowing away on the floor.

Now that everyone is fed and happy, load the suitcases, toys, video games, blankets, etc into the van. Try not to notice that you now can't see the floor of the van. Oh well, you know it's clean.

After you load all the necessary traveling supplies into the van, load the children. Be sure to have a coin handy for choosing who gets to sit behind the driver and who has to sit in the middle in the back. Remind yourself to buy some earplugs before your next trip so that you can't hear the whining of the children who didn't get to sit where they wanted.

Once everyone is seated and ready to hit the road, you look at your gas gauge. Try to use your mind to make the needle move closer to "full" without success. Decide that the last minute gas stop will be good after all because all the kids can go to the restroom there maybe, just maybe, you won't have to stop again. (Kids can make it three hours without going, right?)

When you stop at the gas station, you take all the kids in to use the restroom while your husband minds the gas pump. You hear a chorus of "Can we have a snack? We're HUNGRY!" from the very children who just half an hour ago couldn't take one more bite of their lunch. You shoo them into the restrooms and look around for something small they can eat on the way. You quickly spot the Laffy Taffy and opt for it thinking that it will at least keep them quiet for a little while. You grab four of the long blue ones and a bottle of water to share.

Once everyone is out of the restroom, you herd them through the parking lot back to the van and miraculously make it without anyone getting run over. You pass out the laffy taffy and climb in ready to finally get on the road.

At exactly one hour and three seconds into the drive, someone from the back will yell out, "I've gotta go!" This will happen when you're in the middle of nowhere. You tell the child that there's no place to stop, so they will have to wait. Your instincts tell you that this was mostly a ploy to get out of the van, not a bathroom issue anyway. You keep driving.

After another thrity-two minutes, the same child will announce the need to stop at a restroom because they've "gotta go BAD". You assure them that as soon as you see a good spot to stop, you will. You keep driving past two gas stations because you are pretty sure the restrooms haven't been cleaned since before you were born. You know that you have a least one more warning before you have to worry about wet pants.

About five minutes later, a second child chimes in. This child does not need a restroom break. Instead, they are feeling carsick. You advise the child to close their eyes and turn the a/c vent on them. You begin to frantically search for some sort of container, just in case.

After finding nothing useful, you ask the child how they are feeling. The child says they are better, but you're not so sure. As a precaution, you have that child move to the seat closest to the door. You keep driving.

When you pass a sign promising a travel stop with "clean restrooms" ten miles ahead, you make an announcement that you will be stopping soon. Cheers erupt from all but one child. You turn to see what is wrong and find the child in the middle turning a lovely shade of green. You try to call out to your husband to PULL OVER, but the words don't come out in time. The child, the seat of the van, and the floor below are all covered. You immediately know that it your van will sport the memories of blue laffy taffy forever more.

When your husband hears the unmistakable sound from the back seat, he pulls over to the shoulder of the highway, just missing a sign proclaiming that the travel stop is now only five miles away. Nice. You both climb out and begin searching for something to help clean up the mess. You visualize all the fast food napkins that you tossed in the garbage when you cleaned out the van and make a vow to never clean out your van again.

You decide your only option is to get back into the van and drive the next five miles to the travel stop. When you get there, you send the oldest child in to retrieve paper towels while you and your husband begin the process of unloading all suitcases from the back because the affected child's clothes are all in the one on the bottom.

You finally are able to dig out a change of clothing for the child. You proceed into the restroom of the store with all the children in tow, leaving your husband alone outside to tackle the mess in the van.

Once all the children and the van are clean, you load everyone back up and hit the road again. Five minutes later when you hear someone from the back seat declare that they "gotta go", you pretend you didn't hear. You keep driving until, finally, you reach grandma's house.

Once you get to grandma's house, you unload all of the suitcases, toys, video games, blankets, etc from the van and take them inside. You notice that your van is now littered with laffy taffy wrappers, a water bottle, extra paper towels, a plastic bag, and grass clippings from the children's shoes.

So you remove the seats of your van and start to vacuum so your van will be sparkling for your drive home.

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