I Survived Roadtripping in the Midwest with Two Toddlers…Twice

This summer I drove multiple hours in a car with my two and a half year old and my nearly one and a half year old. Sometimes alone. Always voluntarily. No, I haven’t totally lost my marbles and yes, I survived with my sanity intact. In June I hauled both of my toddlers eight hours each way to Omaha all by myself and then in July I figured I hadn’t spent enough time in the car this summer and our family of four drove five hours each way to Louisville. I’m not a glutton for punishment, I promise, I’m just a mom filling her kids’ brains with memories.

People asked me a few times why I was heading to either place and I simply said, “For adventure.” It’s true. My husband (priase that saint) works hard, long hours to help provide for our household doesn’t have the (mostly) flexible work schedule that I do being self-employed so when I decided to head to Omaha he just wasn’t able to take the time off work. So began my solo adventure with two toddlers through Illinois, across Iowa, and just barely into Nebraska. Guess what? It was not that bad.

It was not that bad because Kindles exist and downloading episodes of Dinosaur Train and Doc McStuffins is possible. It was not bad because I left right before bedtime and brought an under-eye mask to be luxurious and had an audio book to keep me company as my kids slept (guys, Gone Girl is very long). It was not bad because coffee exists and Iowa is quiet at night. It was not bad because I was able to send my route to my husband so he could track our progress to ease his mind. It was so not bad that I felt excited to head to Louisville a few weeks later (and my husband drove the whole way!).

Someone asked me for tips for roadtripping with small children and my tip is: do all the things that make your trip easier. When I drove solo I flipped our car organizer around so it was laid across the passenger seat and stuffed it with essentials so everything was within reach. I left at the boys bedtime, I packed many delicious snacks for children and grown ups, I treated myself to one of those crazy espresso AF drinks that I never buy, I stocked my iPod with new jams. I let my kids have a drink and a snack at 9pm while watching Daniel Tiger because it made the trip so mch easier (and they eventually fell asleep). When my husband was along for the second trip, he offered to drive and I brought a stack of my favorite magazines to read. I made a portable coloring station—which is a fancy way of saying I gave him a clipboard and some magic markers–for my bigger kid and books with sounds for my littler.

I roadtripped with two small children—both alone and with my husband–because I was nervous to travel with them on my own at first and it empowered me to plan more trips and realize that I can get out there with two small boys even more. We can take longer day trips, I can plan little getaways for our family. As silly as it sounds, I needed a reminder that I am capable of rad shit and creating awesome memories for my children even amidst the daily stressors of life and a kooky world. We could do something that required planning and might be nerve wracking for a hot minute, but utimately brought us closer and pushed me out of my total comfort zone. I could help my little family see our country, all from the comfort of my mommed up SUV. Even if it’s a quick trip around the Midwest I can help instill in them the importance of seeing how other people live and how crucial it is to appreciate the beauty of seeing new places and trying new things.

We can do this. We just need audiobooks and juiceboxes.

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Filed under: Mable Sarah

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