Once upon a time, Mike and I would go somewhere for the weekend. He'd drive and I'd sit shot gun. I loved road trips. Mainly, because I am EXCELLENT at falling asleep in a car.
At my old job, it was a running joke that although I had traveled to the client in New Jersey about 10,000 times, I would not be able to tell anyone how to get there because I had never once made the trip fully awake. I am known internationally for this skill. Back in my more glamorous advertising days, we would travel all over the world for various commercial shoots. My old boss would take pictures of me passed out in the car while passing various monuments and not-to-be-missed landscapes.
All this changed when I had kids. Now, the driver has the more relaxing job of the two while the passenger is expected to perform amazing feats in order to keep the tiny occupants of the car fed, entertained and happy.
While everyone else stays safely buckled into their seats, the passenger is required to remove their own seatbelt at least fifty times per trip, as he/she contorts his/her body to fetch lost pacifiers, locate snacks at the bottom of the snack bag and even switch seamlessly from the front to the backseat, while the vehicle is moving, in order to soothe crying babies to sleep.
A little car trip shut eye is a concept that no longer computes.
In fact, sometimes, on particularly bad road trips, shot gun elludes the passenger entirely and he/she must sit shoved between carseats, feeding a bottle to a baby while playing games with a three-year-old at once.
On our three hour road trip last weekend, I had to sing "You are My Sunshine" to a crying Harlow (its the only thing that guarantees a smile) while pretending to be a shark and bite Mazzy ("Play with me, Mommy!!!") at the end of every line.
"You are my sun CHOMP, my only sun CHOMP, you make me hap-CHOMP, when skies are gray CHOMP CHOMP CHOMP…"
It was very impressive stuff.
It was one of our first longer car trips with Harlow and I forgot what traveling with a child who can't be distracted with an iPad is like. Also, have you ever tried to explain "low cell reception" to a three-year-old when her YouTube connection suddenly stops working?
"JUST WATCH THE PRELOADED MOVIES, MAZZY!!!"
Oh man, do I hate taking away the iPad for bad behavior on a road trip.
As for the driver?
As far as I'm concerned, his vacation had already started.
Also, five minutes into our three hour trip, Mazzy asked, "Are we there yet?" That's got to be some kind of record.
Thank god nobody puked, because we all know who handles that.
Does this shit get easier when the kids get older?
I have already avoided two road trips this year because I know I’ll be the passenger. Anytime we drive for more than 30 minutes, I’m booted into the passenger’s seat and I get car sick, so switching from the front seat to back seat usually calls for a pull-over-and-puke session.
This post is 100% true!! We have done 2, 2 day road trips and a billion 4 hr ones and it is to the point now that I offer to drive so I don’t have to move! (Only downside is my husband is in the military so the last 5 ones I’ve done alone and boy being the driver and passanger sucks!!)
This right here is why I do the driving. I tell my husband that its because I don’t like his driving, which is true, but it’s only 1% of the real reason.
Drove to Florida and back with 3 kids aged 3-8. We don’t have a minivan and the trip takes 22hrs of straight driving, one way. So that equaled 2 15 hr days as the passenger. Next time, we fly, even though I am deathly afraid.
So, so true.
Yes it does get easier. My kids (both 8) are already like teenagers. My daughter falls asleep listening (with earphones) to her music on her iPad almost immediately and my son plugs his earphones in, listens to his music and plays either Minecraft or watches the Avengers for the 50th time. Mom and Dad get to listen to their music and have a conversation.
How fitting! My husband and I are preparing for an 8 hour drive (first long drive with the baby!) this saturday with our 10 month old. I’ve purchased several new toys which I plan to present to her throughout the drive in an attempt to distract her from the fact that she cannot move. Hoping the 8 hour drive doesn’t turn into a 12 hour drive.
We’re both pretty terrified. But! we’re planning on taking turns driving/sitting in the back, so at least we’ll both get breaks 🙂
My husband is still blissfully unaware of the harder job the passenger has on a road trip. He is always the driver and he complains all the time about it. So, on our last trip, I said that I would take over driving for a while. Unfortunately, both kids were napping at the time, so he didn’t have to do much.
We are driving to Florida in October and I have already volunteered to drive the 2nd half. And, knowing from previous Florida trips, the 2nd half is the worst! The kids have napped through most of Georgia and are now ready to go! I’m actually looking forward to it…and I hate to drive.
So completely true! And my daughter always gets car sick so I get the extra fun job of holding the ziploc and hoping all the puke lands inside the bag….
You forgot to mention breast feeding while baby is still buckled into car seat. It requires mother to contort her body in a grotesque way while dangling her milk jog into baby’s mouth. Bumps and teeth makes this scarier. On one of our last 4 hour drives, 2 year old screamed continuously at us for two hours, “I stuck. I stuck.” Because he suddenly discovered his seatbelt. Miserable.
Well, this sounds like you just went on and returned from vacation with us! I have a 2 1/2 and 4 1/2 year old daughters…it does NOT get any easier. I somehow through some miracle, have potty trained the youngest and she is not reliant on pacifiers, pull-ups, naps…so with 2 pretty self reliant kids our 10 hour trip to Florida should be great, right? After all we have 2 ipads, 2 dvd players, 2 cups, loads of snacks in multiples of 2…It started because one has a white ipad and one has a black, then one wanted to watch Despicable Me and the other wanted to watch Mickey Mouse, then the first wanted to watch Mickey Mouse, but was pissed after I put it on, because it was a different Mickey, when in actuality it was the same, it was just at a different part since it was started at a different time, so I had to restart both, which pissed off the second child, cause I messed up her movie. I then had to count out snacks, cause heaven forbid that one get a half of a cracker more than the other. Then came the emergency potty stops. Like, all of a sudden out of nowhere, “Mommy, I am about to pee in my panties!!” with this about to burst into tears look on her face, so we stop. The other one doesn’t have to go…until we are back on the road and 10 minutes later, the second is about to pee in HER panties…except now we cannot see an exit ANYWHERE!! So, we stop on the side of the interstate, open the front and rear passenger doors and she pees in the grass hiding her, “girl parts” from passersby while hiding between the 2 open doors…Then I swear not 30 minutes later the first has to go AGAIN!!! The second says she doesn’t have to go, but I force her to try anyway. Then they are back in the car safely buckled up again and they want the color wonderful markers and paper, which isn’t a problem until they start fighting over the colors that they EACH HAVE!! Identical colors in both of their kits, the same amount of paper, so I threaten to take them all away. So, they stop…only to start fighting and crying again when one throws a marker top at the other, then realizes she now has no top to said marker, so one is crying and one is yelling at the thrower of the marker, so Mommy climbs in the back, recaps ALL the markers, redivides them between the girls and I sit…smooshed, but it’s quiet. Till one wants a song while she colors, and the other wants a different song. I sing both, but that’s not good enough because one doesn’t like it when the other sings along with me…it hurts her ears, then the other hates the others singing along with me…it aggravates her…I really need to pee, but there is NO way I am prolonging this trip by even one more second! We finally get to the beach house and my husband somehow passes it! I am literally about to burst my poor, squished between car seats bladder! we get in the driveway and I hop out, just to momentarily run in to pee, and the kids start to wail as though I am leaving forever, my husband starts with the, Where are you going, you expect me to unload everything and the kids…?” The only thing I worry about for the last 2 days of the vacation is the trip back home….So, to answer your question, NO!!!! It doesn’t get any easier with the kids getting older. They are just able to talk more, pee more, complain more, and actually draw blood when they fight! Your only hope is to fly so the madness is over more quickly, or take a second car ALONE!!!!
It gets better. Chee & the boy (7 and 9) play license plate bingo, ipad, books, then annoy each other some then snacks distract or we get out for a few and then repeat.
But oh I had those days you speak about. I have one video that shows what happens when there’s only mommy driving and the kids are 1 and 3 and have been in the car 4 long hours. I still watch it and now I laugh because, well, we’ve finally outgrown it. I can take the are we almost there questions over scream-crying any day.
I’ve never taken our 3YO on a road trip longer than 1.5hrs to visit my parents, during which time she is awesome. I don’t even usually let her have my iPhone, we just listen to music and sing along (my music, not kid music. NEVER kid music. My girl loves Metric, MGMT and Sigur Ros.. good taste!).
Wonder if/how that will change when baby #2 is born this month. I usually make the road trip alone, my husband would rather not join me to visit my parents if he can avoid it.
We had 6hr trip to in-laws, would leave late so kids would sleep at least for 1/2 of trip. I always volunteered to drive first telling hubs that I would be too tired to drive later. It was really only for this exact reason, being passenger is way easier when they are mostly sleeping. He never figured out my evil plan.
We judy did a 10 hour drive to a wedding in Indiana. All 4 kids. I thought the way there was bad, the weddibg would have ben awesome without younger set of 4 kids,
BUT drive home takes cakes!!! 2/4 kids throw up right when there is about 3 miles of express lane and no shoulder.
I had to sit there and watch! Yuck!!
Haha oh man do I know what you’re talking about. The Hubs and I recently drove from NY to SC with two cars, one kiddo in each. No one got it easy that trip. Long car rides with kids are the worst!
It gets better, but probably not for a few years. You still have to get through the potty training stage for Harlow. I hated potty training on long trips – “Here, Kid, put on a pull up. Yes, I know I just spent months convincing you that pull-ups are for babies, but I can’t face another puddle in the car seat. And no, I can’t safely pull over to the side of the road and unbuckle you with 2 seconds notice.” I actually made one of my boys wear pullups on car/air trips until he was almost 5. I’m sure that will come up in therapy.
But still, I’d rather take a car trip of any length over a 12 hour plane trip to see Grandad, any day 🙂
We just took an 8 hour driving trip with our 6 month old. We took that sane trip when she was 2 months old and it was so easy because she slept most of the way. Not so this time. In my 4th or 5th time taking off my seat belt to locate a forcibly thrown pacifier I announced to my husband “this is how I will die. Looking for a pacifier.”
We’re taking a 6 hour flight in less then a week! We obviously are masochist or have brain damage. Or both.
thats why I always schedule the driving for at night. they just sleep through the whole fn thing. I am always the driver and the best thing is that since you will be driving at night, the hubby has no choice but to let you nap really heavy the day before. it’s a win-win.
We’e alwasys been VERY lucky! My child falls asleep in the car for about an hr and a half… the car for us is magic…!!BUT i do make sure to pack his favorit toys, good snacks (low sugar – trust me…no melt down this way)iPad, lots of music he likes (which is Mommy and Daddy’s fav music – thank God!)the movies he loves..DVD and iPad..and off we go. We do make stops to walk around if need be..this helps too..it may take a little longer, but it keeps us all sane. We’ve done the 6 hr road trip, and 4 hr flights…on the plane, again..he sleeps for about 2 hrs there…and then wakes up to use the iPad and or his DVD player, coloring book with activities etc. Def snaks on the plane too..these days the “lunch” the airlines serve is toxic and gross!! But like I said..we’re VERY blessed…he’s a very easy child and he likes to sleep in the car and on the plane… 🙂
I hope it gets better!! I remember the only request being made of my mom when on long car trips was to change the radio station. Other than that, my sister and I entertained ourselves with car games and Gameboy. My 3yr old is surprisingly good in the car, but we’ve only taken 3 hr trips so far. I can’t imagine anything longer! This one time, miraculously, I entertained him when he was a baby for 3 hr straight. What did I do? I can’t even remember.
As a non-driver? I am ALWAYS SCREWED!!!
That right there is why we never visit my husband’s side of the family. 7 hours in the car. Then they ask how come we do nearly that going to France on holiday – but we have the ferry to break the journey and let people move about. I could not fathom 10 hours in a car with preschoolers. I salute you all who have managed such a feat!
10 hour road trip (each way) last week with a 3.5 year old and 11 month old…I drove most of the way there but was the passenger most of the way back home. Driving was definitely the easier job! Also I’m still nursing the 11 month old, so did the super safe body drape over the baby’s carseat to nurse while vehicle is winding through mountain roads!
omg, you poor thing…. 🙁
Yes, it does get easier! My kids are 11 and 14 now and we have taken many long road trips and they travel better now than my husband and I do! The first one we did that was pretty easy was when my youngest was 6 and the oldest was 9. I remember even going camping locally when they were 3 and 6 was tiring. That long road trip we took when they were 6&9, they each had gotten a Nintendo DS and those things were well worth it! Kept them quite amused for most of the 18- hour split over 2 days drive each way.
My older wise sister taught me the Vomit Rule. If you are ready and prepared for Vomit at all times in the car ESPICALLY on road trips (towels, bag/bucket, and some sort of cleaner) chances are it won’t happen. SO, I Keep a vomit kit at all times.
I’ll admit I think being a passenger is taxing but it’s a whole lot easier than being a driver and not having a passenger to deal with the two kids. Imagine your same chart, only make it one column and add Stay awake and drive to the top of your list of responsibilities. I did that on last year on what I like to refer to as Barffsgiving (lucky Daddy had to work) On that trip baby was only 3mo old and I had to move him in fear he would get vomited on by the 3 yr old. fun stuff.
I don’t fall asleep in the car but I LOVE to read – that is the biggest perk for me of a long car trip. A bag of new books and the understanding that my attention is not on you (the driver). My husband has told me that he LITERALLY will have a full conversation with me and I will not only not respond for at least 2 minutes but that later I will not remember we even HAD the conversation. I also miss amazing scenery because by the time I have managed to 1) notice he has said – “hey look!” and 2) Look up and out the window then the amazing scenery is gone.
We took a 12 hour drive when my daughter was 4 months old. It was heavenly because I sat in the backseat with her, read my books, let her hold my hand, and she slept most of the way. She is now 18 months old and the longest trip I’ve attempted is two hours away. She screamed on the way home from said trip for 1 1/2 hours. I told my husband the next long trip we take with her, we’re breaking the no tv rule and getting a portable DVD player and screen.
Your graphic clearly and visually presents the facts. Love it.
haha! I’ve got all that AND the puking! Sometimes no matter WHAT you do the kiddo’s have just HAD. ENOUGH. and the only thing that can calm them down is by arriving at your destination. We have a 10 hour car ride to my husbands family that we make twice a year. We break it up on the way there, but do it in one stretch on the way back. Typically they will make it until the last 30 minutes…it’s like they cannot hold out ANY LONGER.
Absolutely gets better when they can entertain themselves. The only thing that won’t change is the “are we there yet” question. Even with a map in front of their 7 & 8 yo faces, they still ask.
I guess I got lucky ‘the driver’ wants to do some of the passenger’s stuff.
So so lucky.
I completely agree with this, sometimes I request to drive just so I don’t have to deal with it. And still my kids will ask me to open their fruit snacks.
I am a carsick type of person, and am often excused from passenger-dom when we travel by car…however, I get totally screwed in flight! Hubby is somewhat fearful of air-travel and is a total wuss about managing a baby while in the tiny place seat. Now we have to buy 3 seats, him, me, our 2 yr old, and I get baby 2 on the lap. It’s a travel nightmare and before we plan anything on the ACTUAL TRIP, we have to work out exactly how we will use our layovers and mentally prepare for all that will go wrong!!! A vacation to me, is my workday lunch-hour while the kids are at daycare!!!!
Oh, I realize I should be grateful I am ABLE to afford and take trips with my 2 little boys…yeah yeah yeah
I’m always the designated driver, and I would always complain how hard it is to drive. I never thought that being a passenger is harder. I never noticed. My attention was always on the road (and on my aching feet, because I drive stick).Wow, I didn’t know that I always get the longer end of the stick.
I, too, have always been a FABULOUS passenger! But after reading this post, I’ve offered to drive on all recent road trips in an effort to have the opportunity to be the driver come November when our first baby arrives… Thanks for the tip!
Once during a 16 hour drive from Florida to Pa, with six kids, I seriously considered just jumping from the moving car. I was thinking thoughts like “it’s grass on the side of the road, how much can it hurt?” And “if I just tuck and roll I should be ok”.
ABSOLUTELY 100% Accurate!!
1. The longest trip we took driving when the kids were baby/toddlers was 5-6 hours. Once when we lived in California we drove to Vegas to meet my family with our daughter who was 7 mths old, slept the whole way there, not so much on the way back, that was 12 years ago and I can’t remember how bad she was. But she’s the one who would sleep in the car on trips. I won’t go farther than 5 hours with my son now at 8.
2. My husband always talks about driving to visit his family in Oceanside California instead of taking the plane, we live in Houston Texas, and that is a 24 hour drive. I tell him I’d sooner get a divorce then drive that far with our kids who are 8 and 12. It does get easier in some aspects but dear lord we’d leave as a family of 4 and probably come home a family of 3!!
As a mom of 4 (pre-ipad and in-van movie days) I can certainly relate to your post. But as hard as it is, I can’t help thinking about two of my daughters who make solo trips with their preschoolers, being the driver AND attempting to do all those things on your passenger list. One of my girls drove 14 hours over two days to visit with the rest of the family. Now THAT’S a super-mom!
We live in Illinois on the Mississippi River. We took our first major family road trip last fall with our 6, 4 & 2-year old children to attend my sister-in-law’s wedding in Florida. 5 miles from home, my 4-year old screams excitedly as we’re approaching the bridge into Missouri, “I see the ocean!”. Two days of snacks, movies, peeing by the side of the highway, loudly questioning the southern accent as another language and sing-alongs later, he actually did.
It does get easier…… When they’re teenagers. My daughters are 13 and 11, and they just plug in their headphones into their iPhones and either sleep or sit there quietly. My 11 year old reads on trips too.