We love road trips. With a 4 year old who is vehicle CRAZY, travelling by car is the best way for us to get away. Most parents need to figure out what to do to keep their children entertained on the road. We have that built-in to the mode of transportation. The Kid will spend hours spotting different makes and models of cars as they pass by and enjoying the spectacle of every road construction site we encounter.
Planning for road trips takes a bit of work. As usual, Mr. Organized and I each have our roles in the situation and I rely on spreadsheets that get reused each time we head out of town. Here are some of the things we do – and our docs that you can download. Maybe they’ll help you on your next road trip!
What to Bring
I’m in charge of packing everything other than my husband’s personal stuff. I will admit that this job becomes easier as the Kid gets older. Travelling with a baby was infinitely trickier. Nowadays we just have to remember to bring enough Hot Wheels and we’re pretty much good to go.
Back in the day, I created a spreadsheet to help me remember everything that I needed to bring for him on a trip. Time and again I’ve revisited this list and edited it to reflect his current needs. Using this doc makes packing a breeze and if you bring along a printout, you can make sure that you leave with everything you came with.
Here’s a version from when we went to the cottage when he was 8 months: Baby Packing List
It’s All in the Timing
When going on a road trip with kids, planning how long you’re going to be in the car is key. No amount of love for vehicles is going to keep a kid happy strapped in a car seat for 9 hours. And factoring in breaks of a certain length and that allow for significant burning of energy is essential…especially if you are on a trip that involves several locations and days of driving. Plus every Mom knows that figuring out when your little ones are going to eat and nap is of utmost importance to keep everyone happy.
I have a spreadsheet itinerary for road trips that maps out what hours in each day of the trip are in the car, where and when we plan on eating and how napping is going to be accomplished. (We were blessed with a baby who would sleep in the car and a kid who still might nap there after a lot of running around or a swim in a hotel pool.) I also schedule in where we are staying each night, special events, etc.
Here’s the one from our trip south last spring: Road Trip Itinerary
Light blue cells = driving time
Yellow cells = where we spend the night (bright = hotel and light = with friends/family)
Red text = Kid sleeping
Here’s where Mr. Organized takes over. Before we head out for a road trip, he likes to make sure that our Civic is in tip-top shape. I asked him what are the key things on his (mental) list:
1. Get any regular maintenance done before we go. If we’re due for an oil change, he makes sure that it’s taken care of.
2. Check tires and fluids. However he does this… (Yes. I’m that kind of girl. Speaking of which…)
3. Keep our roadside assistance numbers handy. He also asked me to point out that you should make sure your assistance hasn’t expired. Not something you want to find out when you need it.
4. Make sure we have our Emergency Kit stocked. Stuff like a very basic tool kit, a flashlight with fresh batteries, jumper cables, a tire iron, a jack, a blanket and candles, and also some water and snacks, just in case we get stranded.
5. Put our GPS and map in the car. If only we had a car with a GPS built in… oh well. And a map because you never know when technology can fail you.
6. Fill the tank and clean the car, inside and out. ‘Cause he’s just that kind of guy.
Happy road tripping!
Bonus: Looking to Buy a Vehicle?
If you’re looking to purchase a vehicle, Honda has helped me put together this downloadable doc to make sure that you’re asking the yourself the right questions, doing your homework, and are on top of all of the things you need to be aware of during the process: Vehicle Shopping Tips
And if you’re considering a Honda, like the Odyssey, they have some cool features on Honda.ca that can help you in your decision – like a Build and Price tool that allows you to check out what a vehicle costs when you customize it and a Compare tool that lets you see how the Honda models compare to each other and to competitors.
This is proudly sponsored by our friends at Honda.
Have piles and piles of artwork coming home from daycare or school? We do.
Since the Kid has been in daycare since he turned one, he has been bringing home artwork from “school” for a few years now. Add to that the craft fun we have at home and it can quickly start to pile up.
As someone who has a couple of art degrees, I waited for many years to have a little one who would create his own little masterpieces. I love the unbridled creativity and seeing the evolution of his artistic ability and interest. Love it.
I want to be able to keep it all – but who has the space? So we keep the artistry without keeping the artwork.
When we get a good pile, out comes the camera and we take pictures of everything. The files are named with the Kid’s age and backed up with all of our digital photos. (We have a Flickr site for organizing and sharing our photos, but that is a post for another day.) Now the memory is preserved.
The favourites are saved. I put many in frames and up on the walls for us to enjoy all the time. But the rest goes to get rid of the clutter.
You could toss it in the recycle bin, but I like to take it one step further and reuse it. I love giving gifts with a hand-made touch and making seasonal home decorations to use year after year. Kids artwork can be great for this. I cut it into star shapes to hang on the Christmas tree and egg shapes that I dangle from the chandelier at Easter. And I have slipped them into a snowglobe (one with a photo insert) for a pretty and fun little gift.
Whether you recycle or reuse it, documenting the artistry gives you the freedom to get rid of the clutter.
Mr. Organized and I are pretty predictable and like routine. We have a good list of “Go To” meals in our repertoire and once a week or so we throw all caution to the wind and have take out for dinner. We work away each evening on our laptops side by side on the couch organizing things for both home and work. And we have a standard roster of shows we watch together on our PVR while we work.
Honestly, we don’t really "mix it up" too much. Some might say that our relationship is boooring. We prefer to think of it as comfy. We just know what we like – each other!
But that being said, we won’t deny that maybe we are in a bit of a rut. So when the folks at Cottonelle suggested that a simple switch could make a difference and maybe spice things up in our relationship I figured we should give it a shot. And why not go to the source.
What is going on in that bedroom of ours? How could we switch things up in there? What do we do the same, night in and night out?
So I suggested to Mr. Org that we trade sides of the bed. First came the stunned blank look and then the resounding “NO WAY.” You see, it’s not just that we’re used to our sides of the bed. There are a couple other factors involved...
#1 The Girlfriend
My husband has a special friend that helps him get to sleep at night. His radio. Every night he listens to AM talk radio, specifically a crazy call-in show called Coast to Coast. He’s like Pavlov’s dog with this show. He hears the theme song and starts to fall asleep. He is so addicted that when we go places without a radio by the bed he has a little hand-cranked radio he brings with him.
But in our room, the radio sits on his nightstand. Well it starts out on his nightstand and it migrates into the bed, snuggled right in beside him. Which is why I have dubbed it "The Girlfriend".
#2 The Too Easy Access
I sleep on the side of the bed that is right by the door. The spot that is directly in the line of fire from the Kid’s room. It is not uncommon for me to hear "thump, thump, thump, thump" down the hall in the middle of the night and then "Mummy! Come sleep in my bed." Which leads to the rest of the night being kicked and poked by a 4 year old.
So his comfortablity with his side, the idea of his radio being so far away and the possibility of being dragged away to the Kid’s bed all contributed to my husband being resistant to the idea. But I suggested we just do it for a night or two and we decided to give it a try.
Well, instead of facing out of the bed to opposite directions, we found ourselves facing in towards each other more often than we normally do in any given night. Somehow, the radio ended up in the middle of the bed instead of out to one side so we could share it. (I like Coast to Coast too!) And luckily for Mr. Organized, the Kid didn’t get out of bed to come and find us until 7am. When he came in, he had a funny look on his face and said "Daddy, what are you doing over here?" His father replied "Mummy and I traded sides of the bed last night." And Daddy’s response to the following "Why?" was: "Just for fun, buddy. Just for fun."
Even though we’ll be heading back to our respective sides of the bed, switching things up reminded us that it is good for a marriage to look at things from the other side once in a while, to meet somewhere in the middle, to always share the things we love and - most importantly – to try something new just for fun!
This blog is proudly sponsored by Cottonelle