My story holds threads outstretched throughout the states and across oceans and testifies of people who are of great value to my family’s heart. When you are a Bama raised girl and live in Cincy territory, then the road becomes a friend that bridges the gaps.
Flights are too expensive to do often so the open road invites us to travel!
Having three kids a year apart has been a stretching of feeling capable in public with the high-energy trio, yet in this stage of life, a certain groove has risen to meet us. I remember places that felt harder in those younger years being exchanged for different hardships in the now. “Mom life” is full of its sacrifices and it’s saying yes to this particular moment while simultaneously saying no to others and some seasons can take your energy tank to below zero.
In my nine years of parenting, a place that I find fills that emotional tank right back up is on the road with my littles. To pack bags upon bags and snacks upon snacks is an undertaking I admit, yet to experience an open road with children engaged in exploration and to endure an openness for mind and heart to connect in hours of wandering is worth every bit of exhaustion of packing received.
Packing up for some moments spent at the park sometimes can wear a mama down, so it can feel intimidating to think of how in the world would I handle hours of driving, bathroom breaks, and handing out snacks and snacks and more snacks solo?
You handle it the same way you do other tasks, PREPARE for it and LIVE AND LEARN.
We have been back in Cincy for four years now and traveling 11 hours back to Bama is a necessity of my heart and something that happens 4+ times a year. My travel-loving hubby would love to adventure with us every time, yet work pulls a need for him to stay many of the times. I value reviews of someone’s experiences as I am getting ready to engage in a place or activity, so I thought I would leave my top tips with you so when you have the opportunity to travel solo with multiple children in tow, preparation leads you forward to say YES to the memory-making adventure. When I am venturing on an 11+ hour road trip, it is not the time to “take my sweet little time,” for I am focused and prepared for my day.
Tips for Solo Mama Road Trippin’…
- Pack each kid in their own duffle bag – It’s not worth it for me when I show up to a location and have all kids in one bag and try to find whose pants are whose, so I found that keeping the bags smaller help me during our stay somewhere. Each kid has their own and I give them how many pants/shirts/socks/etc. to pack and they have their checklist just like I do and this has been a game-changer. They have it laid out by their bags and I check them to approve and then put in the duffle bag, and it has made the prep time so much faster, with no stress, plus empowers their independence and fuels their excitement for the trip even more!
- Pack a snack bag individually for each kid – YOU KNOW YOUR KIDS and I know that each of mine chooses a different way to handle this bag, where one child may eat all their snacks the first part of the trip where another one stretches the food morsels out to the end of the drive. Some trips I set boundaries that no snacks are bought in gas stations and this is their responsibility to stretch it out. Some trips I have made it a snack game and at different stops I may call out “SNACK ATTACK” and kids pick a snack out of their bag and I control how long it lasts. BUT I PROMISE YOU MAMA, packing individual snack bags that they keep beside their seat will help you out tremendously. Pack your bag, too, and place in front seat beside you.
- If you own them, wireless headphones are my favorite solo driving thing – I download podcasts and messages and this is a self-growth space for me as I’m safely driving with the phone hooked to mount and no cord to tangle up. I have my maps on and can hear the directions while also hearing the needs of my kids.
- Each kid gets their own activity bag – I learned that for my kids, I have to pick a small bag because they will pack it FULL but it helps so much on the road for their creativity to soar and gives them the opportunity to pursue things that they love to do. Each trip I get my kids a few of those blank books and they will draw, write, color and journal our trip. Other activities may be travel Yahtzee they pass around together, books, mind puzzles, etc.
- Technology is your choice – My kids are now 6,8,9-year-olds, so limiting technology is an area of consideration for us, even on the road. We have a DVD player in our car and a Nintendo switch that we travel with, so I do times of allowance in the car and then “activity bag” time. Kids rotate out choosing which movie is played and I give time limits on switch play. I know that each family has its own boundaries for this area, but for us, we balance out the allowance of it on a drive and it has worked well for us.
- Most trips I am driving the full day – Because stopping solo for the night is way more exhausting for me with little feet digging in my back sleeping to wake up and drive more. Yet some times I drive halfway, stop at a hotel and drive rest of the way next day. When I do this, I always pack only one overnight bag packed at the top and easy to carry in.
- Combine bathroom breaks with power breaks – I give them smaller water bottles to help limit frequent bathroom stops but choose Starbucks if possible for breaks because it’s clean and controlled for me. A gas station is typically next door and I fill up on gas when I stop in case the kids pass out for a nap and I can keep on driving. This is also when I do “power break” – running in place, jumping jacks, and getting a surge of energy out.
- An early rise is my push – I set the kids’ clothes beside their bed, wake them up at 5:50 a.m., they go potty, put on clothes, and crawl into the car with a blanket and set out at 6 a.m. and they go back to sleep for a few minutes. I pack a breakfast option in their snack bag.
These are a few of my top tips for you. Message me if you want some more travel tips and let me know of your adventure.