Long Car Trips With Toddlers, Tips for Making the Long Haul Work

I’m a mom of 3 year-old twins and was ready to embark on the longest car trip to date thus far–moving from Colorado to California. I searched online for ways to prepare and found a few good ideas + came up with a few on my own. This chronicles the best parts offering up some

Tips on making the long haul car trip work.

(1) The preparation. I made a travel box of trip-toys (using Banker’s boxes) for each day and let them know that every morning there would be a new box of toys and a new movie for the day. At night, when we cleaned up the car, we packed up the previous day’s toys so there were fresh ones to discover when you we got in the car every morning. The boxes had some of their favorite toys from our play room before the movers packed everything and then I bought a few new ones so it would be a mix of daily treasures. As crafty as I tried to be, we definitely needed that travel DVD player too and they loved having new movies to watch. I also discovered the McDonald’s DVD rental set up. While we only stopped for their iced coffee and to let the kids play for about 30 minutes (which was fantastic since it’s hard to find parks in a foreign town on a limited schedule) it was the DVD rental that was pretty fantastic. $1 per day, drop them off at the next McDonald’s you stop at (any, it doesn’t matter) and there were appropriate choices for kids of many ages.
(2) Craft time. I got them these plastic tray/desks at Michael’s for $5 so they could color and do some sticker crafts + help me keep track of toys, sippies, etc.

(3) They love the movie Cars, still. So we played “guess the truck” — was it a Peterbilt, a Mack, Volvo etc. They actually loved this so much that they still do it when we drive around town.

(4) Travel potty. MUCH cleaner than most of the rest stops. I used my Diapees & Wipees bags to hold disposable, wet toilet paper, hand sanitizer and clean undies. We had our own restroom-on-the-go.

(5) Food. I’m not a huge fast food fan. We relied on a cooler filled with watered down juice, yogurt tubes, homemade granola, fruits, veggies, hummus, sliced cheese, sliced ham and pretzels.

(6) Sleep. These Head Pillows (Noodelhead) helped them sleep longer and better in the car and also doubled as cuddle toys at night comforting them in a new hotel every night. I found that they also helped when put under another pillow and over the “trip toys” box for keeping them semi-upright and still in their seat belts while sleeping for naps on the road.

(7) Pictures. Since I was always taking them I thought I should bring their travel digi cameras too. It was really fun to encourage them to take pics as well. Note the ketchup on my daughter’s. That’s why their kids cameras!

(8) Fresh air. We would open the windows about once an hour for fresh air and have them say “hello” to whatever landmark we were driving by. Even though we were guided by GPS the old-school Atlas came in handy for planning ahead and to figure out just what the landmarks were. Made for some extra entertainment for sure.

Are we there yet? Two 10 hour days and one 4 hour day and we made it. Pretty successfully even. I loved this sign for “Beverly Hills” in the middle of the Nevada desert, humor was a nice spice to pepper our days with. Good luck on your next trip!


Hiding Your Bump at Work?

When to tell the boss that you are pregnant. I read this today and wanted to share it with everyone since this is a tough decision. Here’s some great advice. Follow the link for the full article.

Be up front and professional to avoid being placed on the ‘mommy track’
By Tara Weiss
Thurs., Aug. 7, 2008

Laura Stager couldn’t wait to share with her co-workers the news that she was pregnant. But once she did, a strange thing started happening: People who barely talked to her before the announcement started rubbing her belly; even more uncomfortable, colleagues ask her weekly how much she weighs.

Stager learned the best way to deal with these new realities is to be honest. For the weight question, she replies with something like, “I don’t think you’re supposed to ask that.” As for the touching, she tolerates it from her closest colleagues, but for others, she simply says, “hands off.”

These are the small issues that come with telling the office you’re expecting. But there are larger ones, too. Most co-workers will be thrilled, but some bosses won’t share the excitement, a possibility that causes some pregnant women to conceal their growing stomachs for as long as possible.

Women who worked hard to climb the corporate ladder worry the boss will put them on the “mommy track,” giving them less-challenging projects. This is of particular concern to women who are on a partnership track and need to demonstrate certain skills to advance. Others fear their manager will work them extra hard so they can do as much as possible before taking maternity leave.

But you can’t keep your pregnancy a secret forever, and it’s best to start planning early how you’ll transition to maternity leave. Most experts suggest telling the boss your news after the first trimester, a time when the risk for a miscarriage greatly decreases. The only time to tell the boss sooner would be if you’re experiencing a difficult pregnancy or severe morning sickness, and need to take time off from work. No matter what, tell the boss before other colleagues — it’s a sign of respect.

Best Dress for Pre and Postnatal Summer Style

Even though the lovely Angelina and Jessica Alba were snapped wearing this fantastic long, sleeveless, caftan dress by Rachel Pally in dove grey and orange, respectively, while pregnant I enjoy it perfectly post-natal (uh, 3 years post-natal). While incredibly long and flowy, it’s made of jersey cotton so you can trim the bottom to be a custom length on you. It’s forgiving, allows you to look amazing with very little effort and is so comfortable–see more about it here in the video.

And ever since Ms. Jolie-Pitt wore the dress, it is generally sold out everywhere except at this really great store online, Shop Rapunzels (great customer service).

Two Hour Vacations, aka the Staycation

It’s a fun new word, the “staycation”. Meaning, gas is ridiculously expensive and so is everything else right now because of it, so what can I do locally for a much-needed break?! The typical vacation can be brutal anyway, the angst and panic that can set it when you plan to take a few days or a week’s vacation. The planning, the packing, the fun-making; it can overwhelm the best of us before you even leave the house. Suddenly the staycation goes from an interesting idea to something you are actually going to do.

Here are some ideas on how to freshen up your routine enough to feel like you’ve had a break without spending too much $$ or time.

(1) Treat yourself to a real manicure, pedicure. Schedule it at a day spa and read a magazine cover-to-cover. It’s okay to tell the nail technician you are there to “zone out” and don’t want to talk. Pick a bright, cheery color and bring your own polish so you can do touch-ups yourself and lengthen the amount of time it lasts.
(2) Consider a vocation-vacation. Ever wonder what it’s like to be a ______? Find one near you and ask them if they would mentor you for a day, a weekend even, and give your dream or curiosity a chance to bubble up to the surface.
(3) Go to a movie by yourself. I do this because a good movie gives my mind a great break from MY life and lets me focus on someone else’s for a few hours, plus I like to see the wardrobe choices on my favorite stars.
(4) Plan a themed dinner party for the friends in your life you want to re-connect with. Do something exotic like a Moroccan themed dinner party—you can learn to cook something new, have fun with festive décor, and remember how nice it is to do something different and laugh a bit. InStyle magazine always has great ideas and so does this site: HostessWithTheMostess
(5) Go to your Farmer’s Market and create a meal around the items you find there. Get the kids involved smelling the herbs, sampling the produce, picking the produce and really relish is the food choices that are abundant right now. Talk to the farmers there about the crops and how to pick the perfect XYZ. They are usually happy to indulge you.