Surviving a day out with toddlers is always a concern, so I have to be prepared! In my house, with twin toddlers and a 5-year-old, we spend more time getting in the car than at the destination. Sometimes, I’m not sure if it’s worth the effort. However, if I plan ahead of time and follow a few simple rules, everyone has a much better time. Including me!
Tip #1 Make sure everyone has a full tummy.
You know how you get cranky when you haven’t eaten? Well, now imagine a toddler with an empty belly. Yikes. They want something to eat, and they want it NOW. So, before we leave, I try to make sure everyone has eaten something. Even if it’s fruit snacks, pretzels, or a banana, they need to have a little something.
Tip #2 Make sure you have plenty of snacks and drinks.
Even though everyone has just eaten a little something, it’s almost guaranteed that someone will want something in the car. I keep granola bars, fruit snacks, suckers (for when I’m really desperate,) graham crackers, goldfish crackers, etc. in my purse. I buy individually wrapped packages especially for the car. Also, I always bring their sippy cups. I transport them in an insulated lunch bag. If your kids are good with straws, you could bring juice boxes or those little containers of milk. Our young kids just squeeze those things all over themselves, so we have to stick with cups.
Tip #3 Keep a packed bag of “stuff” in the car.
I keep a bag filled with wipes, diapers, a couple changes of clothes, tissues, more wipes, a few small toy cars, a couple books, and more wipes. That way, in case I forget to bring anything, I already have extras in the car. Don’t forget to replenish what you use! I speak from experience. Books and toys are great not only for the car, but for anywhere you might have an unexpected wait. The changes of clothes are great in case of accidents or a sudden change of weather. Or if your brother dumps their milk on you.
Tip #4 Did I mention the wipes?
I love wipes. Baby wipes. Hand wipes. Cleaning wipes. I’m not picky. Not only do you need them for diaper changes, but there great for wiping hands after eating all those snacks. Or wiping out the car seats after eating all those snacks. They also come in handy for wiping down restaurant high chairs, shopping carts (while most stores have wipes, they always seem to be out!) or any surface or object your toddler may put in their mouth. If they are anything like mine, it is anything gross they can find. Especially if it’s been on the floor.
Tip #5 Keep to your schedule as much as possible.
And by schedule, I mean nap-time schedule. I’m actually a little embarrassed to even write this one because before I had kids, I was very against this. I remember thinking there was NO WAY I would plan my life around when my child had to take a nap. Then I had kids. Oh, how times have changed! Sleep is very important for your toddler, and your sanity. If you leave for somewhere right when they are supposed to be taking a nap, you are in for a very bad trip. Sure, they can sleep in the car, but will they? Mine are terrible in the car, so that would be a no for me. If yours are good car-sleepers, just make sure you will be in the car for a long enough time. Having to wake up a sleeping toddler may be even worse than one without a nap. I know it may be a pain to plan around a certain time, but it will be well worth it. I find if I have to run any errands, we get going early in the morning. If we’re going on a trip, we also leave early. Actually, mornings are the only time we start going anywhere. Aren’t you happier when you’re well rested?
I know these rules may not apply to every toddler and may not always work, but they have made my life a little easier. With 3 boys, I’ll use any little tip I can find! What are your best tips?