Sunday, October 14, 2012

Managing Car Trips with Kids

Anyone that has traveled with children knows that one of the main hurdles to keeping things running smoothly is conquering the time in the car during a long road trip.
In an earlier post, I linked to a great blog featuring excellent car trip activities.
http://travelingkidsonthego.blogspot.com/2012/08/road-trip-games-for-kids.html

A technique that I employ for managing road trip behavior is a little old-fashioned reward system. My mom always did this for me on long car rides and I use it for my children now. I have to say it works very effectively for ages anywhere from about 3 to 12 and is a great incentive for keeping the peace. Before the trip, I purchase several trinkets, maybe figure one per 200-300 miles. I always try to keep it at something the kids can do in the car: a cheap movie for the DVD player, a lap game, books, etc. I wrap the presents before the trip (wrapped is always more enticing then not wrapped!) and stick them in a tote bag. The kids are very excited to know that there are some possible goodies in the back seat for them, although they also know that there are some rules they have to abide by to receive one.

I go over the rules for "car time" and if any of the rules are broken, there will be no present at the next determined stop. Now, this may lead to some unpleasantness (perhaps an understatement); however, the momentary meltdown will be followed by much better behavior in order to earn a prize for the next go-around. Since I have done this for awhile, my kids are pretty accustomed to how it works and what is expected so they will usually be able to earn their prizes. There are not too many meltdowns at the prospect of not earning a prize as they know there will be another opportunity and an over-the-top fit might actually hurt their chances for the next gift stop.

A good idea that I have seen to go along with the reward system is to have little red, green and yellow light cards that can be clipped to the visor for each child. As long as the behavior in the car is good, they will stay on green, but if the behavior lurks into murky territory, the color will become yellow as the final warning. A red light card means you are out of luck and will not have the privilege of picking a present. I am actually going to start using this on our next long road trip.

                                                     Yay! We made it! Long 5 hour car trip!!



It may take a little extra time to gather some items for the trip and wrap them, but the sanity and relative quiet from the back seat will more than make up for it. Actually, I pick up items to add to my "car present tote" all year long so it really is not much work right before a trip. Looking back on the years that my mom did this with me, I have fond memories of the stops and excitement of getting a prize and it probably made for a happier trip for everyone!

20 comments:

  1. Hi, I am your newest follower from the Nifty Thrifty Family. Thanks for following.

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a great idea! We don't travel very far, very often anymore, but if we do I will definitely be using this strategy! My boys love to watch movies in the back of my Routan, and even though they can each watch their own movie, quiet movie time can only last so long on a road trip!! :)

    Thanks for linking up for the Tea on Tuesday at http://www.boys-oh-boys.com! :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. hi there! I saw your blog on GFC blog hop and I'm now following you! I hope you follow my blogs as well... cheers!

    www.citybehindthefog.blogspot.com
    www.officiallygirlyfied.blogspot.com
    www.psychochicklessons.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hey there!

    Stopping by from the GFC blog hop! :) New follower!

    xoxo
    Anni // http://grapefruitprincess.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for visiting, following you back.

      Delete
  5. How do you clip the cards to the visors? With a peg? I just started following you from the GFC blog hop at The Life Of A Not So Ordinary Wife. I hope you'll follow back http://www.twentyseven.org

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Laura, followed you back.
      I clip the cards with a small clothespin or a big paperclip. The cards are small.
      Thanks for visiting!!

      Delete
    2. Thanks. I'll keep this idea on 'file' in my brain for when my children are a little older :o)

      Delete
  6. Hi! I'm a new follower from the GFC hop! I like your reward system idea for long road trips. A couple years ago we were traveling from Florida to Tennessee 3 times a year with a 5-8 year old. 14 hours with a child that small is not easy. We resorted to driving through the night so that she'd sleep for most of the way. We eventually came up with good ideas like this one when she got older, but it was never easy!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. When my kids were little we didn't travel by car often, but flew quite a bit. We used this kind of a system for the kids, usually a hand held game for the flights and a special treat for the airport between flights. The best idea is just to be prepared in some way. Travel with children is something that doesn't go smoothly by accident.

    ReplyDelete
  8. What a fun blog! Can't wait to start learning more about you and your family :) Thanks for visiting me at ephesianswife.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  9. That is a really cool idea! I bet it makes the trips go by much more quickly!
    Dropping by from the GFC blog hop. :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Oh my heck I am loving your blog! I have to travel around the country twice a year so I could totally use any ideas! New follower from the blog hop! Would love for you to visit me and join my site as well!

    riversrecipereview.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  11. I can't wait to have time to go on road trips! My kids love snacks, movies and books. Sometimes I will get some cheap toys and give them a new one every hr or 1/2hr depending on their mood. Thanks so much for stopping by Mom's Library and following True Aim. I am following you back!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Visiting outside with family is a good step. Everyone should travel with their families because it is now very low by Cheap Flights

    ReplyDelete
  13. That is a good idea! You can get cheap stuff at the dollar store. We've got 2 road trips coming up for the holidays and I'm not looking forward to them!

    ReplyDelete
  14. What a great idea! I will have to remember this once my own kids are old enough for this!

    ReplyDelete
  15. What great ideas! Glad I saw this we are going on a trip in a month with our two kids. I am visiting from the Friday Chaos blog hop. I am a follower now and would love if you could come visit and follow me.

    Thanks
    Nichole
    www.pinkieforpink.com

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hi Erin! This is a bit belated, but thanks for visiting my Disney 31 Days series last month from a blog hop! I'm a new follower of yours- lots of great tips all over your blog!! :D

    ReplyDelete
  17. Life is one big road with lots of signs. So when you riding through the ruts, don't complicate your mind. Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy. Don't bury your thoughts, put your vision to reality. Wake Up and Live!
    Flights to Toronto
    Cheap Flights to Toronto
    Cheap Air Tickets to Toronto

    ReplyDelete