When you’ve got kids, will lose your mind from time to time. This is a given. It’s also understandable. Your house is never clean, your child is never sleeping, and you haven’t bathed in three days. Mother Theresa herself would have given up long ago.
During these periods of insanity, the best course of action is to remove yourself from the situation—which means getting out of the house for a while (or ingesting rat poison, but I’m assuming you’re not quite that desperate yet). What you need is a vacation.
Vacations and day-trips are palette cleansers for the soul; welcome refills of your internal battery juices. A stress-relieving getaway can be just what you need to conquer your case of the crazies.
You’ll probably be bringing your children with you when you take that stress-relieving getaway—even though your children are likely the source of your stress. To combat this wicked irony, you’ll want to make sure you’re suitably prepared before you walk out the door.
When it comes to packing a child’s suitcase for a trip, it’s important to remember this one simple rule: More is always better.
Overdo it. Go nuts. Pack everything you can think of that is, has ever been, or might someday have any sort of association with your child. If you find yourself debating whether or not to pack that stuffed teddy bear that your kid hasn’t so much as glanced at since 2006, you’d better put it in the suitcase. If you don’t, your child will want it.
And scream about it.
At a very inopportune time.
Like when you’re changing lanes in rush-hour traffic.
Bring the teddy bear.
The next areas of packing preparation you’ll need to think about are food and drinks to be consumed during the ride, which are a necessity if you’ll be in the car for any period of time longer than fifteen minutes. Staples of “travelin’ snacks” include juice boxes, crackers, chips and anything else that your child can wedge between the seat cushions of your car.
As a matter of fact, your child probably won’t even eat any of these snacks because he’ll be far too busy squashing them into crumbs which he can then mash into the floorboard.
That’s okay, though. The important thing is to keep him occupied. Just keep repeating Parenting Mantra #48 to yourself: “At least he’s being quiet.”
Parenting Mantra #62 is also useful in this situation: “I’ll clean that up later.”
Getting your child into the car:
When leaving for a trip, the most effective (and maybe the only) time to get your child into the car is approximately three a.m. There is a small window of unconsciousness in a child’s sleep cycle at this exact time, and it’s possible to move him without waking him up.
In order to pull this off successfully, though, you’re going to have to make some preparations. If you shower and pack all of your suitcases the night before, you’ll be able to set your alarm for 2:55.
When you wake up, pull yourself up off the floor (because if you followed my earlier advice, you packed your bed and everything else in your room), scoop up your child and toss him into the car before he has any idea what’s going on.
If you must get your child into the car while he’s still awake, there are a few methods by which this can be accomplished.
The Slingshot Method:
1. Using high-tension springs and duct tape, fashion a crude slingshot across the inside of your car door.
2. Place your child in the slingshot.
3. Pull back and let go. Your child is now in the car, and likely needs medical attention.
The “Go Fetch” Method:
1. Find your child’s favorite toy.
2. Dangle it in front of him, repeating “Nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah.”
3. Throw the toy into the car.
The Mountain Lion Method:
1. Get a mountain lion. You can probably find one on a mountain somewhere. Or on the internet.
2. Position the mountain lion behind your child.
3. Yell “Look out! It’s a mountain lion!” and open the car door. If the mountain lion gets in the car and your child doesn’t, go back to step two. If the mountain lion and your child get in the car, call it a draw and just take them both.
Keeping your children occupied while driving:
Your kids will try to distract you while you’re driving. Children love seeing just how crazy they can make their parents. It’s like a sport to them, and since they’re too short to play basketball, it’s all they’ve got.
While you’re in the car, there are several things you can do to try and keep your children occupied. Here are brief rundowns of a few:
The license plate game:
This is an old standard that’s been around since the horse-and-buggy days. Your kids can pass the time by seeing how many different states they can identify on the license plates of neighboring motorists.
The fun won’t last too long, though. Your kids will only be able to spot a few different plates because your state sucks and no one wants to come there. It’s a real let-down.
The “Get a semi driver to honk his horn” game:
Another go-to pastime in the annals of kid travel. Every time you pass a semi on the highway, your kids make furious pumping motions with their arms, signaling the driver to honk his horn. It’s an entertaining game, but realistically there are only two possible outcomes:
1. The semi driver honks his horn.
2. The semi driver gives your kids the finger.
The “Let’s see who can be the quietest” game:
Kids are wise to this one, and you’ll be lucky if you can convince them to participate for more than a few seconds. This game involves you saying “Let’s see who can be the quietest!” like it’s the freaking greatest-sounding idea in the history of recorded time. Your kids will then pick up on your enthusiasm and give it a try. You’ll have approximately .0072 seconds of peace until they realize that it’s a stupid game and start yelling again.
The “Let’s see who can drink the most vodka” game:
Here’s a fun activity that you can participate in with your children. As an added bonus, since your body mass is much higher than your children’s, you’ll always win. Just make sure to hide the vodka bottle if you pass a cop.
Warning: This might be illegal. I’m not sure.