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Netflix, roadtrip, Streamteam, travel, children

How to Survive Holiday Road Trips with Children of All Ages

by Deborah Cruz

The holidays are my favorite time of year. There is just something about the chaos of it all that makes me energized. I thrive on the craziness. It’s my happy place, especially when you add in baked goods, holiday music and all the twinkling lights your heart can desire. There is one part however that I could give a good pass on; holiday travel.

It’s not that I don’t like traveling. I love it. I love visiting family. I love going home. I love seeing new sites and old ones too. I even love the actual act of traveling…the journey, not just the destination but during the holidays, traffic is a special kind of hell. Everyone is trying to get somewhere and all of us are getting nowhere fast. There is nothing I hate more than being stuck. The worst kind of stuck is in an enclosed compartment for long hours with no possibility of escape and children.

My children have fortunately inherited my wanderlust and verve for life. They’ve unfortunately also inherited my lack of patience. On the precipice of tweendom, they are far more pleasing travel companions than they were as toddlers. Aside from the occasional, about 25 times an hour, inquiry, “are we there yet?” they tolerate long trips very well. Nothing a pair of good noise canceling headphones can’t rectify. But when they were tiny, as cute as they were, they were the worst.

Road tripping with toddlers is not for the weak. A few years back on a quick trip to Virginia to check out the city for a job move, we found this out the hard way. The girls were just about 2 and 4-years-old. We decided in our youth and naiveté that a long drive across the country was just what our sanity needed.

The area was one of the most gorgeous parts of the country that I’ve ever been. The weather was perfect, the scenery beautiful, large metropolitan cities concealed by nature. There as nothing not to love about the destination.

The 12-hour journey with toddlers, however, left much to be desired. My, otherwise, sweet loving girls apparently had a time limit to being constrained in those 5 point harnesses. On a good day that was a trip across town. You can imagine their state of mind at the very thought of taking their very first long road trip imprisoned in those body shackles.

My rambunctious eldest insisted on asking, every 20 minutes, “Are we there yet?” I always thought that question was a parenting cliché but now I realize that it is, in fact, the truth of traveling with children. I never realized how frazzling that could be to me as a person. I thought “those” moms have no patience. Just say, “Not yet, in a little while.” Why all the overreaction? Then I realized that it can actually bring you to the brink of insanity and make a grown woman ugly cry if asked in the right voice and enough times over a 12-hour period.

While the oldest was hitting us with the barrage of “Are we there yet”s the youngest was freaking out over a gnat. Yes, a gnat, that supposedly must have been the scariest, meanest, baby eating gnat you ever did see because, god bless her little bitty heart, she screamed bloody murder for at least 3 hours of the trip. We were all ticking time bombs.

In summation, my 4-year-old was wondering if we were there yet, every single second of every single minute we were on the road. My 2-year-old was being terrorized by a gnat and screaming so highly pitched, that all the dogs of the world were seeking her out to eat her and end the misery. I was on the brink of insanity, on the verge of losing the battle and my poor beloved husband was trying to plot his course to the nearest gunsmith to rent a gun and buy a bullet.

Then I pulled out my bag of tricks because obviously, the 1200 DVDs that I brought were not holding their attention. First, we colored (you know those Wonder Crayola colors that magically appear on the special paper but nothing else. That’s what you think, but that’s another story entirely), then we colored the glittery ones, then we colored My Little Pony. We sang, only the songs that they know so we had Bella’s favorites, “Twinkle, Twinkle” and “Mary had a little Lamb” and Gabi’s favorites “Happy Burtday to you!” and ” Five, Five Dolla..Five Dolla foot long!”

Yes, my 2-year-old was obsessed with the Subway commercial jingle. Have you any idea how many times they used to play that thing? I do, because she sang it incessantly for her second year. Don’t get me wrong, in the right context, it was absolutely adorable. She was the cutest thing that ever walked the earth, besides her sister, of course, but everything in moderation. Interrupted only by the “Are we there yet?” inquiry of her sister.

So on the brink of insanity, on the way to the gun shop, we stopped at lunch to let them stretch their tiny legs at some wayward Wendy’s in West Virginia. Not my idea, have you seen Wrong Turn?

We got lunch, they had ants in their pants and couldn’t keep still. We got the food, the chicken flavored whatsamanuggets are not done, still doughy,”EWWWW, gross”, as my daughter liked to say. I returned them. We waited again, I returned with nuggets, all is good in the land.

Then a “fly” dared to descend upon the table. All hell broke loose. Toddlers jumping everywhere, screaming, crying, running away in terror. I mentioned it was a fly and not Godzilla, right? Not a horsefly, just a regular old house fly! In true fix the situation fast fashion, I took off my flip flop and the untimely death of one unsuspecting fly ensued. All was good in the land.

Then Gabs, because all of the attention we just received was apparently not enough for her, screamed, at the absolute top of her lungs “EWWWW, FAARTED.Stinks”. Absolutely, mortified, I say ” OK, honey, it’s OK.” Then I realize, amongst all of the commotion, she did not have any kind of flatulation incident. Apparently, she just thought it was funny and liked to take credit, really loudly.

The point of all of this recounted trauma is that I am so thankful for things like Netflix and noise canceling headphones and toddlers who have grown into tweens who now find many ways of entertaining themselves. Daddy’s hotspot has saved us all many times on long road trips to Disney.

If you are looking for something to binge on your next long trip. My top recommendations are Alias Grace, Godless, She’s Gotta Have it, Glitch, Frontier, Man Down and Stranger Things.

For the tweens, I recommend Riverdale, Stranger Things, Anne with an E and my girls’ favorite, Project MC2.

Netflix, Streamteam, travel, childrenFor the toddlers/preschoolers whom I adore, Octonauts, Beat Bugs, Super Monsters, PJMasks and Word Party which are all available for download.

Netflix, Streamteam, travel, childrenSpeaking of long drives to Disney World, did I mention all of the amazing Disney Movies that Netflix currently has in the queue? What are you binging right now?

Disclosure: I am a member of Netflix’s #StreamTeam but all opinions and genuine love for Netflix are my own.


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