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Jul 29 2011

Notes on Road Tripping With Kids and Without DVDs

By at 11:02 am

Our road trip didn't look like this. At all.

Maybe don’t do it.

Bring a DVD or two until your kids are in grade school and have required reading.  As I just said to a friend who suggested I write about this–and actually thinks I’d be applauded for braving several trips with two kids and without DVDs (she’s pregnant…)–of all the moms I am good friends with, I am the dimwit.

Let it be known that we didn’t consciously not bring a personal DVD player because we believe in “no t.v. for kids” (quite the contrary, but that’s a post for another time).  We didn’t bring one because we were pressed for time to buy or borrow one.  Also, let it be known that we once brought a DVD player on our first-ever roadtrip with two kids, and it worked really well for keeping the toddler entertained for one of four hours.  But somehow, the charger cord for that device was lost between our house and my in-laws’ house, and so our borrowing expensive things days are at an end.

Here are my  notes on the subject after three consecutive car trips (three weekends in a row) with a two-year-old and a 10-month-old:

Infants don’t need DVDs, but thrive on stimulation from their elder siblings who like to make farting noises and silly faces that involve sticking their chubby little fingers in their noses, mouths, and eyes simultaneously.  This is how all of our trips started out, except for the final leg home from Vermont, which began with two screaming (read: bloody murder screaming) kids, both overtired as we’d missed the “let’s leave at naptime” window, resulting in two kids who slept for three of the five hour ride home.

That was sweeeet. Because *I* was driving that leg, and my husband fell asleep, too, in the passenger seat. I turned off the radio to preserve the white noise hum of wheels on pavement, which worked to keep everyone sleeping.  All I could hear were the hum, the snoring, the muted tinky-tanky baby sleep music of the Pandora station on my iPhone that Heath was unconsciously gripping in his hand, and, good gravy, MY THOUGHTS.  It was the most peace I’d had throughout the whole trip.

Now: 2-year-olds do not need DVDs. But MOM does.  Because after the third hour of turning around to pick up another toy (or the same toy) that has fallen on the floor of the car for the 13 millionth time, my twisted spine creaks, my neck spasms, and my patience is worn. Books? Oh yes, books, books were great, until they weren’t.  Coloring books?  Crayons on the floor: not fun.  And those magnet doodles?  Forgot to bring/buy them.  Our basic arsenal of “peace keepers” involved infant toys that squeak and rattle, two little “computers” that help a toddler learn to identify letters, the aforementioned books/coloring books, baby dolls, and then a handful of cds that the toddler likes to sing to and that we can stand beyond fifteen minutes.

Wait a minute.  Who’s attention deficit?  My kid can ask me a million questions (“Moooom!  How many trees is that?”), but it was I who was getting cranky turning around to answer them.  My basic conclusion here is that the personal DVD player is more for the adults than the kids, and those with the aversion to television in general for kids can help me to figure out what to bring on our next family roadtrip: a seven-hour drive to Rhode Island.


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