Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Road Trip!

Just found this unposted post I wrote a month ago. Best intentions, you know.

My favorite - headless child on the beach!
 Summer is all about letting things slip like bedtimes, house cleaning, and diets. I know that all of the above have been in free fall for the past month in this family. We just returned from a roadtrip through the south where it was 99 degrees most days and all anyone really wanted to do was sit in the AC with a cold beverage. We still managed to see a few sights and of course sample the local cuisines. I discovered I love shrimp grits, and we were treated to not one, but three different ice cream/yogurt venues. Then there was the movie theater popcorn (another great way to escape the heat) and plenty of adult beverages. There was not a whole lot of organic going on.

So it was comforting to me to reflect on what a wise pediatrician said to me back when one of my little darlings was refusing to eat balanced meals. She told me that it’s not what they eat in a day or even a week. It’s what they eat over a month. So I don’t stress a few fat-laden or even chemical-laden meals. It won’t kill them.

Here’s a couple ideas for road trips with kids –

1. Pack lots of healthy food. We parked a cooler stuffed with fruits, veggies, cheese sticks, yogurts, and water bottles between the youngest two and let them have at it whenever they wanted. Once we got where we were going, of course they opted for much more colorful packaging, but I at least I knew I got a good first layer in there.

2. Pack lunch whenever possible. It’s just so much easier when you have a carload of kids. Pull over at a rest area or park or even a church cemetery (that makes for a very interesting stop) and enjoy some fresh air. You’ll save time, money, and know your kids got at least one decent meal. Just like the snacks, I think of it as stock-piling some healthy stuff to counter all the not-so-healthy stuff I know will come.

3. Pack extra headphones, batteries, and books. Put an emergency bag somewhere that has –

Benedryl cream (bee stings)
Sweat shirt (in a size that will fit anyone in a pinch)
T-shirt (same as above)
Shorts (elastic waist so it’ll fit most of the kids)
Flipflops (no shirts, no shoes, no service is a foreign concept to kids)
Sanitary pads/tampons
Plastic bags (just plain old grocery ones)

I have all of these things stuffed in to the secret compartment in the back and have used all of them at some point or another for my kids or someone elses. Especially the benedryl cream – don’t forget that one. It takes the ow out of a bee sting.

4. Give everybody a map with the route clearly marked. This is easy to do with mapquest or AAA. I like the big paper maps because it provides a little origami opportunity too.

I think the perfect philosophy for summer traveling is relax and enjoy what comes your way. Plan for pitstops and surprises. We like to play the game, “the weirdest thing” where everyone looks out the window and tries to spot the weirdest thing. We saw peacocks in a parking lot, all manner of interesting lawn ornaments, ground hogs in broad daylight, and laughed ourselves silly over the faces people make while driving (and how many of them pick their noses!) It’s a great game because it gets all of us looking out the windows and appreciating all the strangeness this world has to offer.

So enjoy the summer especially if it includes a road trip or two. Don’t stress what your kids are eating (or you for that matter) too much. There will be plenty of time for reading labels and counting calories when fall rolls around. As long as you don’t slip completely off the wagon, or at least you remember where you parked the wagon, it’s all good.

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