My kids and I have taken many long road trips together, and as any parent knows, the longer the drive, the more challenging it can be for everyone. That’s especially true for single parents, like me. Given the number of multi-hour road trips I’ve taken alone with my kids, there are some tips I’d like to share that just may help keep other single parents from going crazy along the way.
First Aid Kit and Medicine Bag
In all of our road trips, an important thing I’ve learned is to keep a first aid kit and any necessary medicines literally within my reach, and in the same zipped bag. Single parents don’t have an extra set of hands, so having immediate access to important items is critical. You may have to pull the car over briefly, but you won’t necessarily have to get out to find what you’re looking for.
If your child needs prescription or over-the-counter medication, keep it up front so you can access it at any time. Additionally, make sure the first aid kit is completely stocked. Even if your child only has a perceived injury, offering him or her a bandage can stave off a tantrum.
More importantly, in case there’s an accident, any necessary medications and minor first aid supplies will be readily available without the need to rummage around for them. That really comes in handy when single-handedly having to juggle post-accident terrors and minor injuries.
Diversions in long road trips
Snacks and sugary foods – Since there are no other adults on the trip to help distract the kids while you drive, diversions are even more important. Make sure to pack plenty of protein rich, but sugarless and caffeine free snacks (to keep energy down and sugar crashes at bay).
When you avoid sugary foods, it also helps keep the car from getting sticky.
Pillow and blanket – Don’t forget to pack your child’s favorite pillow and blanket. Not only will they help your kids sleep on long car rides, but they work well at keeping bored, tired kids calm, too.
Toys and media (and don’t forget the headphones!) – Allow toys and media at your discretion, of course, but avoid toys that make too much noise or require too much physicality. An obvious example would be to choose books over balls, but including your kids in the selection process empowers them as well, and gives them a bit of ownership in the overall experience.
If you’re allowing them to bring media, such as handheld game devices, MP3 players or DVD players, don’t forget the headphones!
Finally, prepare them for what to expect, and be clear about your expectations. Besides the fact that it will drive you crazy, rowdiness and loud distractions are unsafe and lead to accidents. Kids must understand that, as the only adult in the car, your focus must be solely on the road, and there’s should be solely on their behavior. It is a team effort, but long road trips are possible, even for single parents. Happy travels!