And we’re back with a review on our toddler and baby road trip activities:
Organizational strategy: Wow, the “surprise packages” idea takes the cake for an idea that sounded good in theory but blew up in practice. I clearly did not think through the logistics of trying to manage 15 brown lunch sacks per child in the cramped car environment. The sacks filled up two office paper boxes (you know, the ones that reams of paper come in) and were a complete mess within hours, sending me into OCD convulsions trying to organize from the front seat.
Luckily, I had a brilliant idea before we returned home and turned one box into a divided storage compartment by cutting the sides off the lid, cutting the lid in half, and duct taping the two pieces inside the box. The result: three compartments effective at sorting toddler toys into a slightly more manageable mess in the car. And it fits perfectly on the floor between the carseats and the front seats.
As for the activities themselves:
Monkey (Toddler, age 2.5)
- Books – Utter FAIL. Note to self: if your toddler can read in the car, he can get carsick in the car. After cleaning up 3 vomit-tastrophies, I’ve learned my lesson. If you want to include books, look for ones with none or minimal text if said child can read. Even then, you’re probably pushing it with the pictures. Also, dramamine is my best friend.
- Bubbles – A huge hit, especially with Sailor who giggled like crazy while Monkey filled the car with bubbles. The no-spill bubbles are definitely as advertised, although the bubble build up inside needed to be cleaned out every 5 minutes in order to be effective. But Monkey could blow them on his own, so definite win.
- Racecar shoebox – Both kids liked this. Sailor stole the lid and used it to tip one race car back and forth.
- Pipe cleaners – We didn’t really get into these, but I’m willing to try them again.
- Magnadoodle (win, as always), Wooly Willy (not so much–depends too much on holding it flat), a homemade treasure hunt/I Spy bag (Monkey was still too little for it, as I suspected, but I’m glad to have one), giant pen and paper, and a bunch of cheap stickers (win, as long as you don’t mind trading peace of mind now for peeling stickers off everything later–I figure it’s a fair trade).
- Foam puzzles – This wasn’t on the original list, but this store-bought toy got the best mileage on our trip. I picked up my puzzles in the dollar section of Rite Aid, but this puzzle gives you the basic gist. I’ll admit a few pieces were lost, but Monkey sure enjoyed pushing the pieces out. Getting them back in wasn’t really feasable in the car, but he didn’t care at all.
Sailor (Baby, 11 mos)
- Books – The baby-hand-friendly books worked just as advertised. I think I’ll be buying the whole set. Sailor ignored the cloth book.
- Sensory box – Moderate success, although next time I’ll opt for a small, square tissue box instead of a standard size. It was a little too large to hold comfortably across his lap, and I think a square one would fit perfectly between his legs.
- Metal bowl with chopsticks – Slightly interesting but too droppable.
- Stringed objects – The bells were a huge hit and not too obnoxious. The sponges were a one hit wonder–worked well the first time, but were subsequently ignored.
- Ball of string – Fail. Too difficult for a baby.
- An interesting new teether – Another fail.
Auditory entertainment: Growing up, my family always listened to books on tape on long road trips. Monkey and Sailor were two young to appreciate anything long, but I found several collections of short fairy tales and fables that we listened to. Our favorite was The Crystal Pool: it had some very unusual myths and they were told in a hilarious but understated way. The narrator was a bit hard to understand, but at least his soothing voice put the kids right to sleep. A close second was Just So Stories.
And last of all, our road trip playlist, which turned out well. My goal was 1/3 kid’s music, 2/3 adult music, about 50% about traveling/driving, and 100% singable. Did I warn you we’re geeks?
- This Land is Your Land – Woodie Gunthrie
- Country Road – James Taylor
- Movin’ Right Along – The Muppets
- In The Garage – Weezer
- Trogdor – Strong Bad
- Life is a Highway – Rascal Flatts
- Ohio (Come Back to Texas) – Bowling for Soup
- still alive – Portal soundtrack
- Let’s Go Driving – Sesame Street
- Take It Easy – The Eagles
- No! – They Might Be Giants
- Istanbul (Not Constantinople) – They Might Be Giants
- Whole Wide World – Stranger Than Fiction
- Follow Me – Fraggle Rock
- Opera Singer – Cake
- Down by the Bay – Raffi
- Who Let The Dogs Out – Baha Men
- I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) – The Proclaimers
- Eighteen Wheels on a Big Rig – Heywood Banks (Alternate version by Ralph’s World is great too)
- Man of Constant Sorrow – O Brother, Where Art Thou
- Ticket to Ride – The Beatles
- the Middle – Jimmy Eat World
- I’ve Been Everywhere – Johnny Cash
- Particle Man – They Might Be Giants
- Mahna Mahna – The Muppets (Alternate version by Cake is awesome too)
- Everyday Is A Winding Road – Sheryl Crow
- Long Line of Cars – Cake
- Raisins – Barenaked Ladies
- Major Tom – Shiny Toy Guns
- Mustang Sally – Mack Rice (Couldn’t download the version I wanted from the Miss Congeniality soundtrack)
- Drive my Car – Sesame Street (Only because it’s Monkey’s favorite; liberally substitute the Beatles version)
- I Want You Gone – Portal 2 soundtrack
- Within a Mile of Home – Flogging Molly
- The Theme from Dangeresque II – Strong Bad
- Only Way Home – Fraggle Rock
- If I Had $1,000,000 – Barenaked Ladies
- Road Man – Smash Mouth
- Pork and Beans – Weezer
- Yellow Submarine – The Beatles