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Traveling with Kids

road trip

Over the weekend our oldest son performed at the Indiana Percussion Association invitational in Pendleton, Indiana…about 2 and a half hours away from where we live. This may not seem like a very long distance to some but when you have 5 children with you it seems like FOREVER!!!! We could have gotten a sitter and just went ourselves but we’re always up for an adventure and I know the kids enjoy a chance to get away….especially if it means going out of town. So, if you’re like me, having as much as you can with you in the vehicle is extremely important. It means less stops and less whining….for the most part. Having kids you know they will still find something to whine about (The sun is too much hot….says my three year old). I try to come up with a checklist of what I think we will need…and then some. So, if you’re planning a trip that’s more than an hour away with your little ones here’s some things you will definitely want to pack.

  • SNACKS

    SO the idea is to save some money by not having to stop by any gas stations or fast food restaurants along the way. It’s better on your pockets and better for their tummies. Try to pack things that are individually wrapped and as few crumbs as possible if you don’t want your van to look like the bottom of your toaster.  Some good choices are granola bars, trail mix, nuts, seeds, easy to open fruit…I do NOT recommend oranges…small children usually can’t peel them by themselves and you will end up with one or more kids handing you their slobbered on oranges at the same time, demanding for you to peel them…while you’re driving…..because asking Dad who is doing nothing but starting out of the window makes no sense to them. Anyways….water! Also bring water for them to drink. Reusable water bottles are best because their less likely to lose the tops but bottled water is fine too. Some companies even make smaller bottles so they aren’t drinking too much at once which leads to the dreaded bathroom stops.

  • BOOKS

    Coloring books and crayons or hardback picture books for the little ones and longer chapter books for older kids. Bigger kids enjoy drawing too, so sketchbooks, markers, colored pencils, etc. are a good idea.Also mom and dad, depending on how long the trip is, you may want to bring that book you’ve been trying to finish for months but can’t find the time to read. Audio books are good too.

  • GAMES/ENTERTAINMENT

    This is a pretty broad area and will mean something different for each family. While I don’t generally let the kids have a lot of screen time on tablets and such….being “trapped” in the car with five little ones, complaining that they are bored makes me temporary change that rule for the road. I would choose to hear Minecraft and Geometry Dash music over whining ANY day. Travel games like magnetic chess and checkers are fun. Portable DVD Players (with headphones….lord Jesus, please don’t forget the headphones…I mean unless you want to hear talking vegetables the whole trip) are a good idea. I really hate that our van doesn’t have a DVD player like our old one did though. That was definitely a great feature.

  • FIRST AID KIT

    If a child can get hurt, they will. And the way parenthood works is if you don’t have band-aids, nothing will happen but the one time you forget them all the kids will get some mysterious cut…at the same time

  • BAGS FOR TRASH

    Unless you enjoy cleaning up mushed up bananas off the floor of your car

  • CHANGE OF CLOTHES

    I maybe should have had this one higher on the list. It’s a definite must have, especially if your final destination happens to be somewhere you want your kids to look presentable. You won’t even understand how but they’ll spill everything….everywhere and if you don’t have extra clothes your friends might think you’re raising the Garbage Pail Kids

  • BLANKETS

    Kids complain for no reason blah blah blah. They’ll get cold. Even if it’s summer…and 90 degrees. Also, if you’re taking a longer trip it’s a good idea to have one for an impromptu picnic in the park along the way

  • WIPES/NAPKINS

    I think that’s pretty self explanatory. Although I do recommend wipes over napkins if you have kids like mine that don’t like you using your saliva on a napkin to clean their faces.

    A few extra tips

….never pay full price for a hotel if you’re planning on spending the night somewhere. Try sites like Hotwire or Priceline to get a significant savings.

Always carry extra cash in case you decide to take tolls or come across some unfamiliar place that accepts cash only

Make sure jumper cables, flashlights, gas can,etc are in your vehicle prior to leaving.

If you have any additional tips for traveling with kids feel free to leave them in the comments.

 

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Morning Chores

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I’ve gotten lots of questions in the past several weeks about how we handle chores around here. First, I should say that there is no such thing as spotless in this house. It’s not possible!! Somebody has always just spilled something, or peed on something, or spilled pee on something (We’re still potty training). On top of that it seems like nobody is actually eating based on the amount of crumbs that are on the floor after meals and everybody tries to act like they “forgot” whose day it is to sweep. We can’t really go a day without doing laundry or it piles up real fast. So, we have to have some type of system. We’ve tried a bunch but this one is my favorite for chores, well morning chores anyway. I’ll make a separate post for the other chores

For morning chores the kids all have their own chore “badges” on a lanyard in their color (I’ll explain our color coding system later). As soon as they wake up in the morning they are required to put on their badges and can’t take them off until everything on the badge is completed. Right now their responsibilities every morning are to:
Make up their Bed
Wash Face
Put Away Laundry
Daily Journal
Breakfast Dishes
Get Dressed
Brush Teeth/Floss
And then my oldest has to take out the trash as well.
There are two things that aren’t listed on the badges because they change every day. Whoever is the special helper for the day has to switch the laundry over ( I always put a load in the washer before bed so they would put it in the dryer) and the special helper is also responsible for putting away the dishes in the dish rack (that I washed the night before). The prayer prince/princess (will also explain in a later post) for that day has to assist with this chore as well! We only use this system for the morning because it’s what works for us but you can use it for after school chores or daily chores as well.

WARNING: Chore badges will not rid all children of the pesky whining and complaining  associated with having to do chores. Also, be prepared for one or more children to “lose” their badge. The beauty of this is its so simple to make these babies!!! Continue reading

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Daily Journal

Kiddos hard at work on their Daily Journal while I make breakfast. Actually today was a good one and they get straight to work. Some mornings are not so easy. Every now and then a child will claim they can’t find a pencil (trust me, we have an endless supply) or that so and so’s elbow was too close to their paper or my personal favorite “I can’t write this early in the morning.”

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Reading and Writing are really big parts of our home life so they are required to write on a topic I choose every morning. Not only does it help their writing skills, I learn a lot about them when I read their journals at the end of the week. Some are filled with sarcasm, mostly from the teenager. When asked to write about a favorite toy he writes “I don’t like toys and if I did I wouldn’t have a favorite.” Keja, my flower child, tries to fill up her paper with as many hearts and rainbows as possible and ALWAYS finishes first, of course bragging to everybody that she’s done. The younger two of the school aged kids find it necessary to discuss the topic every single morning, bicker about who’s writing is better or if what they wrote REALLY happened. So, yes it can get kinda chaotic but what’s most important to me is that they are able to express themselves on paper and they are improving communication skills, both written and oral by talking amongst each other about the topics. So Mommy is happy, at least until breakfast is done and they find something new to fight about