Whether you are making a trip to see relatives for the holidays or on an extended family vacation, if your plan includes being in the car with your children then you had better have a plan of action. Not unlike the hustle and bustle of everyday, car trips should also be scheduled to minimize whining and "episodes" that result from boredom, overstimulation, sugar rushes and the dreaded sugar crashes. When children are confined and bored (or need sleep) they can become downright tyrannical. Here are some of our best kept secrets for making a car trip a little easier for everyone.
Mummies and Poppies
Or perhaps it’s Mom and Dad. No matter what your children call you, when it comes to car trips, interacting with your parents, brothers and sisters is often what detracts a child from the fact that she has been sitting still for six hours. Get creative! Though unconventional, it may be quite helpful to change your seating habits so that an adult is seated with the children. Blow bubbles! Play with puppets. The thought of art in the car might make you cringe, but Crayola makes an entire line of Color Wonder products that are perfect for car trips. ($5 and up) crayola.com From wonder paper to modeling compound, pencils and markers, Crayola lets you have all of the fun with no permanent mess.
When you are stuck in the car (but used to primarily being home) your kids can be annoyed by little things that break away from their normal routine. Help squelch that discomfort by trying to stick to your standard procedures as much as possible. Letting your child’s blood sugar get low can cause a reasonable mood swing. So if, say, your child is used to a 10 am snack, lunch at Noon, followed by nap and a cup of milk, try to keep all of that the same.
Fruit juice is quite high in natural sugars. We love that milk now comes in boxes that are easily stored, sipped and tossed. We think your kids will love Horizon Organic Vanilla milk. ($1.50 ea) organicbythecase.com Horizon milk boxes are also available in plain 2% and chocolate. Keeping your child’s drinks close at hand will make it easier to keep her hunger at bay. Iceless coolers like Black & Decker’s Thermoelectric Cooler conveniently plug into your car’s cigarette lighter. ($45) cooler-store.com They will keep both your drinks and your child’s drinks at 40 degrees without the drippy mess of ice. Nice.
Avoid the temptation of rewarding your child’s good behavior with treats that are loaded with sugar. Filling your child with energy-inducing foods and then expecting her to happily sit still is probably never going to happen. You may think that most energy bars and commercial granolas are a healthier snack option than chips or pretzels, but they are often loaded with sugar. Here are some of our favorite snacks that are both tasty and low-glycemic.
- Plain O shaped oat cereal
- Annie’s Organic Cheddar Bunnies annies.com
- Van’s Wheat Free Apple Cinnamon Waffles (toasted) vansfoods.com
- Popcorn or Rice Cakes
- Annie’s Bunny Graham Friends annies.com
- Nuts (peanuts, cashews, almonds, pistachios, etc.)
- Terra Chips terrachips.com
- Carrot sticks