Christmas trip advice?

Discussion in 'The Toddler Years(1-3)' started by Fran27, Dec 15, 2010.

  1. Fran27

    Fran27 Well-Known Member

    I could use any word of wisdom that you ladies have for this!

    We're leaving in a week for Christmas. It's 12 hours away (that's what google maps says, last time it took us 16 hours I think, counting stops, and we didn't have kids at the time). We'll be staying overnight at a hotel on the way down and on the way back. Once there we'll be staying at my BIL.

    I'm pretty worried about the whole thing. First, the trip. We've done 7 hours a few times (last time was Thanksgiving). They get really crabby. We're still rear facing so a DVD player wouldn't work, and last time we had a couple toys but that didn't really help much (travel doodle and leapfrog laptop - hopefully I can find the doodles again this time). So we had to stop quite a bit on the way down. Any idea on how to make it easier? We had snacks obviously but still... crabby. We stopped at Target to let them run and they got into everything and drove us nuts (which is pretty much what happens when we go anywhere without a stroller). Not really looking forward to this...

    Second, restaurants. My kids don't sit still. It's pretty embarrassing. Even with crayons, it keeps them busy 2 minutes and then they just want to walk (they stay close to the table but still, it's dangerous and annoying for other people). How do you keep two 2.5 yo occupied at the table before food gets here??? I don't really blame them after sitting for 3 hours in the car, but still.

    Hopefully the stay itself isn't as stressful as our last stay at my inlaws, with two kids running all over and getting into everything. We'll bring a few of their presents to open on Christmas day to keep them busy (we'll probably do Christmas here this week end but I picked the toys with the fewer parts to bring with us - hopefully they don't lose everything). It would really have been easier to stay home!!!
     
  2. becasquared

    becasquared Well-Known Member TS Moderator

    We're letting them open their big presents on our 14 hour trip (14 hours? More like 18 last time!) which is a leapster and some games. I plan on letting them watch new Thomas movies too. Why won't a DVD player work? We have the ones that are removable and can be put on the headrest (if they were rear facing, it could go on those headrests).

    Do you have a nintendo DS or some other hand held device they could play with for some of the trip?
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. rrodman

    rrodman Well-Known Member

    We are going to Disney, and I think the drive is similar for us from Ohio. We are forward facing so that helps a lit in that we can do DVDs. I think Bex had a good suggestion on the DVD players still working.

    As far as restaurants, I'm not sure how helpful I can be. Mine are pretty good in restaurants, but I think the secret is going often and having clear, consistent expectations. Mine aren't allowed out of their seats at all and never have been. So they don't really put up a fight. Maybe high chairs so it's not optional? Or have them sit on the inside of booths? That's what we did starting out.
     
  4. Fran27

    Fran27 Well-Known Member

    The dvd players wouldn't work because the headrest is too close to them, and they'd just knock it off or something :( They don't have handheld games because they wouldn't understand them at all... I'm hoping next year they will, but they're definitely not ready for those yet.

    For the restaurants, we had to stop asking for high chairs a year ago because they just cried and screamed in them (pretty much when we moved and stopped using them at home). We figured it would be less distracting to others to have them getting up a bit than screaming during the whole meal. Even in booths, they sneak under the table to get out... We really don't go out that much anymore for that reason, and a road trip isn't the best time to teach them to behave by going back home or something... Sigh.

    I've been trying to set expectations for months and it doesn't make any difference.
     
  5. nateandbrig

    nateandbrig Well-Known Member

    I agree that with all the traveling you do it would be worth it to buy the portable dvd player with the screens that go on the headrests.
    The other thing that keeps my little ones occupied is music, they love it!
    Also crayons and a coloring book can keep my two busy for a very long time. They just draw on their laps and it works out perfect.

    As for the restaurant, we are like Rachael. We go out a lot and mine never have the option of getting out of their chairs/boosters/highchairs. I'm not sure that helps now that you do let them out. I guess maybe going a couple times before you leave and just ordering something small and making them sit the whole time... There have been times when mine are really bad and we give them 2 chances before they have to go out and sit in the car. It stinks when they press it but I'm very strict on follow through so we deal with it and they know I mean business.

    Good luck on your trip!
     
  6. *Sully*

    *Sully* Well-Known Member

    I would really try to find a way to make a DVD player work in your situation.
     
  7. BaileyandMarleysMom

    BaileyandMarleysMom Well-Known Member

    I have absolutely no advice to give, just :hug: I dread the hour long trip in the car to my parents house and can't imagine 12. We did a 4 hour trip earlier this summer and one of mine carried on so much I thought she must surely be having a medical emergency of some sort. GEEZ! As for eating out :gah: Mine love it, but they think they own the joint. Their favorite game is to slip down under the booth and go back and forth playing peek-a-boo and saying "Hi Mommy, bye Mommmy!" a million times. I always turn down booths when we go out now because that seems to be more "fun" for them and a certan nightmare for us.

    Since having twins I have so much more compassion and sympathy for people with melting down kids, so hopefully you'll mostly run into people who have been there and done that.
     
  8. dtomecko

    dtomecko Well-Known Member

    I have just barely recovered from our 14 hour drive to Hilton Head in July. If we could do it again, I wouldn't! I have two pieces of advice that are probably not options for you:
    1) turn the carseats around
    2) book a flight!

    On the way down we drove through the night hoping they would sleep. My daughter did well and the small amount of time she was awake, we were able to keep her occupied with a DVD and some small toys and snacks. My son boycotted our plan by staying awake pretty much all night. It made the drive miserable and the entire trip miserable, because his not sleeping continued when we were there - awake and getting out of bed all night and never taking a nap.

    Do you think yours might sleep in the car if you drove at night? It would have worked great for us if my son had cooperated. The way back we drove during the day and I think it was more miserable than the trip down. There was just not enough things to keep my son's 2 minute attention span occupied. I really thought I was going to lose it. I had packed a little backpack of toys and books for the each of them and then I had my own bag full of snacks, and different craft items that I tried to save until we really needed the big guns:
    mini dry erase boards
    small coloring books and crayons
    pipe cleaners and cheerios
    these things called spaghetti dolls that you put the arms, legs, shoes, etc together
    calculator from the dollar store
    magna doodles
    toy laptop
    a variety of different stickers divided in small sandwich bags
    tag jr books
    color wonder markers
    mr potato head (!)
    matchbox cars
    I could go on and on

    The only thing that helped a little was the DVD player.

    As far as restaurants, I agree with the others that we never let ours out, so it doesn't occur to them that they can get up. One thing that I saved for restaurants only were those foam letter stickers and some large index cards to stick them to. It took awhile for them to peel the back of the sticker off, but it wasn't too hard where they'd get frustrated. These saved us and kept them quiet in pretty much every restaurant.

    On the way down, can you just stick to fast food places where it doesn't matter so much if they're in their chair?
     
  9. abrinka

    abrinka Well-Known Member

    We will be taking 12+ hours drive also and what I am getting for this trip is all these little things from $1 store. Ones they get bored with one, I will have another to give. I also have basket of different toys in between their seats and they can dig in and always find something they haven't played in awhile.
    Kids love "Curious George" right now, so my DH downloaded 50+episodes so that will keep them occupied.
    As for restaurants, mine two can't sit still, so here goes my $1 finds again.
    Good luck with your trip.
     
  10. kingeomer

    kingeomer Well-Known Member TS Moderator

    Fran, I just wanted to add that Target is selling the kid tough Travel Doodles for 9.00 this week. Not sure if that would help you out in your travel doodle search.
    With restaurants, we do the same as Rachael, our kids are not allowed out of the seats until meal time is over
    I hope your trip goes well.
     
  11. vharrison1969

    vharrison1969 Well-Known Member

    I have no advice about restaurants because my boys are completely beastly about eating when they travel. BUT, the dual portable DVD systems totally work rear-facing. We have THIS set. The "mounting system" is just 2 straps with velcro that you use to attach them to the headrests. You're "supposed" to attach them to the backs of the front seat headrests, but there is no issue whatsoever with attaching them to the front of the rear seat headrests. I have an SUV with a power outlet in the back to plug it into, but if you don't, the cord is pretty long and I'm sure it would run up to the front.

    As far as "knocking them off", as long as you have them secured with the velcro straps (which you'd want to do anyway for safety) the most they could do is get footprints on the screen! :lol: Seriously, this will be the best money you've ever spent.

    Good luck! :)
     
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  12. abrinka

    abrinka Well-Known Member

    Can I ask you if you don't mind why are you still have them rearfacing at this age? Is there enough room for their legs?
    When I switched tem around it made huge difference. They LOVE long trips in the car.
    Something to think about trying.
     
  13. Fran27

    Fran27 Well-Known Member

    It's 500% safer to be rear facing, so no I'm not switching them anytime soon.

    I'm going to talk to dh about the portable dvd players!
     
  14. Trishandthegirls

    Trishandthegirls Well-Known Member

    How about getting the portable DVD players that they hold themselves? We have two that I bought at Target that open like a laptop computer. My girls learned to hold those on their laps at about 2.5. We got kid headphones so they couldn't turn the volume up too high. So I would put the DVD in, get it started, put their headphones on and then they could watch an entire DVD with no adult assistance required.

    No real advice on restaurants either since we've never let our kids walk around, but how about some place like Crackerbarrel? They have peg games on each table that might keep your kids occupied. Or... pack food and stop at parks to let them out to run around. I know that's not ideal for a 13 hour trip, but we did that once when our girls were 2ish and we didn't want to deal with restaurant food. We had a cooler and tons of snacks and stopped every few hours at schools or municipal parks along our route to tire the girls out and eat at the same time.

    How about getting the portable DVD players that they hold themselves? We have two that I bought at Target that open like a laptop computer. My girls learned to hold those on their laps at about 2.5. We got kid headphones so they couldn't turn the volume up too high. So I would put the DVD in, get it started, put their headphones on and then they could watch an entire DVD with no adult assistance required.

    No real advice on restaurants either since we've never let our kids walk around, but how about some place like Crackerbarrel? They have peg games on each table that might keep your kids occupied. Or... pack food and stop at parks to let them out to run around. I know that's not ideal for a 13 hour trip, but we did that once when our girls were 2ish and we didn't want to deal with restaurant food. We had a cooler and tons of snacks and stopped every few hours at schools or municipal parks along our route to tire the girls out and eat at the same time.
     
  15. SMax

    SMax Well-Known Member

    This was some of the best advice I was given...stops are for kids to burn off energy from sitting for such a long time in the car. It is really hard at this age to expect that much sitting (both in the car and in a restaurant). Granted, I do not know what the weather is like where you are at, but I would definitely use your stops to let them out and run around before eating! We found it made them much happier kiddos when traveling long distances (two-day drive to Montana). The extra travel time is worth it for us.
     
  16. sharongl

    sharongl Well-Known Member

    We make this long a trip every 6 months or so. When the boys were that age, they did watch videos and other stuff like that. Mine were forward facing for over a year and a half by the time they were your kids age, and it was easy to hand them new things to do, change the DVD, or give them a snack. As for restaurants at that age, McDonalds, Chik-fil-a and anywhere that had a play place were our friends. I would never expect them to sit at a restaurant when we were on our long drives.
     
  17. KCMichigan

    KCMichigan Well-Known Member

    We travel 5-6 hour trips every few months so mine are seasoned travels! We have done two 14+ hour trips as well, not fun- but not horrible. We do NOT HAVE a DVD player.

    A few things that helped (mine were forward facing at that age):

    Music Cds- mine LOVE Them

    window clings - if they can reach the window to decorate it, found at dollar stores everywhere!

    books- old and new ones, especially pop-up, flap, and motion ones at that age

    large magnets and a tin tray (you will fish 100s of magnets out of the cracks of your seats, but well worth it!) Again dollar store

    Magnadoodle

    I dont know at that age: but from 3+ the color wonder products were GREAT for car trips)



    We also never tried to do sit down resturants on long truis (we do them regularly though), the kids were/are too keyed up and need to move! We would find rest stations that had playgrounds or McDs w/ indoor playspaces to burn off steam. That is really vital to keep little people happy!

    Good luck!
     
  18. AmynTony

    AmynTony Well-Known Member

    I can't imagine having nearly 3 year olds RF - of course mine would puke so that was out of the question - they are no longer infants and they may enjoy the trip more and make it more bearable if they were FF... especially if they can reach the windows to play with window clings, watch DVD's, and or communicate with you easier...if you find halfway through that it isn't making the trip any better you could always turn the seats back around...

    plus too I wouldn't want to have to strain myself to try to give them stuff without them being able to reach out and grab it...
     
  19. Fran27

    Fran27 Well-Known Member

    Sorry but I'd rather see them be bored and cry a bit than seriously injured in an accident...
     
  20. abrinka

    abrinka Well-Known Member

    WOW let them be bored and cry?
     
  21. TwinxesMom

    TwinxesMom Well-Known Member

    To be the voice of reason for both sides, it's not about which way they are facing it's about entertaining them. Car seat safety in this case is a personal choice not regulated by law. In the case of car sickness turning does usually help.

    Is there room for you to sit between them? That way you could do activities with them. I do think with some education the would not kick the DVD. Do they like music. Mine like Disney songs to sing along to

    On the eating out ive found practice is perfect. Mine used to act horrible if it had been a while since we had been out.
     
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  22. rrodman

    rrodman Well-Known Member

    For crying out loud people. If she wants to have them rear facing, there is nothing wrong with that. It is safer. It's safer for adults to ride rear facing. At some point practicality trumps safety. The trade off for her is that it's going to be much harder to keep them entertained. But it's hardly child abuse.

    I do think sitting between them or behind them might be a good idea for some of the trip.
     
    2 people like this.
  23. ktfan

    ktfan Well-Known Member

    Sitting between or behind them some of the time, eating at places they can move around a lot and toys/items they don't get to play with much are my top 3. A friend of mine who's dd has Asperger's gave her a box of character bandaids on an airplane. Kept that kids busy for 2 hours! At home, bandaids are not toys...no exceptions...so she thought it was the best thing ever.
     
  24. Fran27

    Fran27 Well-Known Member

    We can't sit behind them either. We have a minivan but it kinda stinks (our BIL offered to sell it to us and it was cheap). If we put the third row we won't have room to take everything with us, and there's only two captain seats.

    Yeah I could turn them over, but I'll never forgive myself if we have an accident... I can't imagine putting practicality before safety. I'd rather have bored kids that cry a bit than dead kids, kwim? When they start to fuss too much, we stop. I can hand stuff to them though, it's just a pain at times, especially if they drop something as we can't pick it up.

    I went to dollar tree but I couldn't find anything that would be entertain them very long :( I'll have to check another place.

    I could take that and say 'WOW, running the risk of having them decapitated because you don't want them to cry?'
     
  25. vharrison1969

    vharrison1969 Well-Known Member

    FWIW, I kind of feel the same; I will keep them rear-facing for as long as I can. If they develop carsickness (which I had as a child) then I'd consider turning them, but right now they're perfectly content! Honestly, I think most kids are going to get fussy on a car trip that is over 1 hour, whether they're facing forward or backwards. That's a long time for a child to sit still. Getting out and running around every few hours will really help! :good:

    Also, I do sit between my guys sometimes (even though it's a *tight* squeeze!) and this really reduces the "fussies". :)

    I hope the DVD helps, and that you guys have a good trip.
     
  26. june07girl

    june07girl Well-Known Member

    Could you find some way to rig the DVD player so that it's strapped to the rear of the car?? We have a DVD player that we put on the arm rest between the two front seats and secure it down with a homemade elastic velcro strap. They can both see it but they can't reach it to touch all the buttons etc. I don't know what kind of vehicle you have but perhaps that might be an option??

    We had a 10 hour drive with the girls in the summer and I just resigned myself to the fact that it probably would not be a very enjoyable trip. We did our best to keep them occupied and stopped when possible to let them run around etc. Perhaps finding a restaurant with a play place or indoor play park with food would be best for meals. We would stop at groccery stores and buy a meal and then go to a park and play/eat at the same time.

    Best of luck!
     
  27. KCMichigan

    KCMichigan Well-Known Member

    [quote name='Nate and Jack's Mom' date='17 December 2010 - 04:33 PM' timestamp='1292603600' post='1737159']
    I will keep them rear-facing for as long as I can. If they develop carsickness (which I had as a child) then I'd consider turning them, but right now they're perfectly content! Honestly, I think most kids are going to get fussy on a car trip that is over 1 hour, whether they're facing forward or backwards. That's a long time for a child to sit still. Getting out and running around every few hours will really help! :good:


    I
    [/quote]

    Ditto above, If I could still keep them RF- I would.

    But PLEASE check you seats are ok to RF for the HEIGHT of your child. One my DDs is very tall and her height is what had us switch (not weight or age) both to FF and more recently to a backed-booster. If a child gets too tall, their neck can be in an awkward position that can be dangerous. Our PEDI is the one that told us to switch given the brand name of our carseats and the height/weight limits for our daughters safety.

    FWIW- I have a DD that gets carsick and always had. FF or RF or booster has not made it any better.....dramamine is our friend! We also have had success w/ Seabands for kids.
     
  28. Fran27

    Fran27 Well-Known Member

    Yeah I'm so glad we don't have one that gets carsick. That would be awful!

    We still have room height wise. For both of the seats they need to be more than one inch from the top, and we still have about 1 inch for DD to get there (she's in a MyRide65), and more for DS (he's in a Marathon, but is shorter than her). We'll probably turn them both around when DD gets too close for comfort, I'm guessing around their birthday at this point. They will be nowhere near the weight limit rear facing for sure!
     
  29. KCMichigan

    KCMichigan Well-Known Member


    If you get close to the limits, take your kids and carseats to the local car seat check station (usually a fire or police station). Sometimes kids w/ longer legs or torsos 'fit' differently. They can tell you if you are in the safe range. Most kids have long torsos and shorter legs (but not all)....a tall torsoed child could have a head that is resting too high on the seat even if they are under the height limit- and could get neck damage in a crash. Opposite of that a child w/ really long legs could be in the height range---but RF- their legs are too crunched up and do chest damage in a crash.


    We never did hit the weight limits of any carseat---it was always height. Our Pedi stated that DD has very long torso and said that even though she was an inch below the 'height' limit that it would be safer to turn her since her head was above the 'rest' of the seat.

    I have heard to 'sitting' height starting to be a concern for both boosters and car seats since kids of the same height can have VERY different torso sizes and the shoulder harness can fit differently. Even for adults (my sister has short torso AND is only 5' 1"and got a shoulder 'harness' adapter in order to make it safer. She was too short sitting for the harness to rest on her shoulder w/o the modification- even as an adult.
     
  30. Fran27

    Fran27 Well-Known Member

    Unfortunately there is no car seat check in my area :( I looked it up on the website, and nothing.. but honestly I've never heard of this.
     
  31. AmynTony

    AmynTony Well-Known Member


    Dramatic much?? Never said it was abusive...


    also playing a bit into the "what if" drama....they could run out the door and get hit by a bus too or choke on their food - you don't lock them up and feed them purees forever either...

    all I'm saying is that for a 14 hour trip the risk of a car accident is probably very small, and infinitesimal that it would be bad enough to decapitate anyone...I wouldn't want to torture myself with having them rear facing...
     
    1 person likes this.
  32. Fran27

    Fran27 Well-Known Member

    Ok I'm sorry but there is no way I'm turning them forward! It's too dangerous *if* we get an accident.

    http://carseatblog.com/5168/why-rear-facing-is-better-your-rf-link-guide/

    Oh and I checked with some car seat technicians, and all that matters is height of the child and that they are under 1 inch from the top. In my case the car seat has no height limit rear-facing and it's perfectly safe as long as the top of the head is over 1 inch from the top. I'm not too sure why some people think that it wouldn't be safe, but it's not true.

    Anyway, I really didn't want to start a debate, I've done my research and I'm not comfortable turning them around, I just wanted some tips.
     
  33. ldrane

    ldrane Well-Known Member

    Add me to the list of 'do the DVD player'. The DVD player on long trips have been a total life saver! Also, taking scheduled breaks where they can run around and burn off some energy. As far as restaurants....if they are cooped up in a car all day for the long drive, I would never expect mine to sit still in a sit down restaruant. We either do picnics at roadside parks or find places that have playgrounds or some place where it doesn't matter if they are loud and need to get down and walk around.

    Also, we always do 'surprise bags' at set mileage points. Plan it out ahead of time at say every 100 miles they get a goody bag. It wouldn't always be a new toy, but sometimes a snack or a favorite book, etc.... You don't have to spend a fortune filling the bags. Just different things to see and/or play with throughout the trip helps. Since it is something 'suprising' that they get to open up, it just seems to add to the element and definately helps out with the entertainment factor!

    Good Luck! Hopefully it won't be as bad as you think.
     
    2 people like this.
  34. abrinka

    abrinka Well-Known Member

    also playing a bit into the "what if" drama....they could run out the door and get hit by a bus too or choke on their food - you don't lock them up and feed them purees forever either...

    all I'm saying is that for a 14 hour trip the risk of a car accident is probably very small, and infinitesimal that it would be bad enough to decapitate anyone...I wouldn't want to torture myself with having them rear facing...
    [/quote]

    Totally agree.
    Don't get me wrong maybe RF is safer but you try sit with your legs up for 14 hours.There is no way your kids have room to stretch or wiggle their legs by hitting back seat?
     
  35. rrodman

    rrodman Well-Known Member

    Yes, I'm being overly dramatic to make a point. Her decision is not the decision I would or did make. But she wasn't pushing her decision in this thread. And acting like she's a bad parent or making a bad decision to make us feel better about our decision is not cool.
     
    7 people like this.
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