We Traveled More than 8 Hours In the Car With 2 Kids and Lived to Tell About It

Over the river and through the woods, to grandmother’s house we go … Whoever wrote that idyllic song probably wasn’t traveling with two kids under the age of three during the holidays. Because just a few months ago, we packed up the car, put the kids in their car seats, and drove the 7+ hours to Nonna and Grandpa’s house for the holidays. And let me tell you, it was anything but idyllic. Babies were screaming, naps were missed, toddlers were crying “I wanna get out!” and that was only in the first hour. But we survived and here are some tips we learned along the way:

Don’t Expect it to be the Same as a Pre-Kid Trip

Before we went on our first road trip with my now toddler, I asked one of my friends if she had any tips. She replied, “Expect it to be awful and throw all your fond road trip memories out the window.” Is that harsh? Yes. But it makes a point. Long trips with two young kids are not easy. They’re not relaxing. But they don’t have to be awful; just manage your epectations and be prepared (see below).

B and I in Vietnam – traveling BEFORE kids

Pack Enough Toys/Activities/Games

Toddlers and infants are not made to sit in one place for eight hours. (But really, who is?) That means an eight hour car trip can be anything but fun for them, which means it’s not fun for you. So bring activities to distract them. Here’s a rule of thumb I like to follow: bring at least one new toy or activity per hour of your car trip. So for a six hour car ride, here are some of the things we bring for the toddler:

  1. Coloring book/paper and washable crayons
  2. Matchbox cars
  3. Paint-with-water activity book – we like the Melissa & Doug Water Wow! books
  4. CDs – we like to go to our local library before a trip and pick out kid-friendly CDs to listen to. Our toddler gets a kick out of picking them out and then choosing them during the car trip.
  5. Books – I like to bring 3-4 and let my toddler pick out 1-2 himself. This one, Let’s Play, is a good one that is interactive. 
  6. Post-it notes – they can stick them places and then you can clean up easily. They can color on them with aforementioned crayons. They can stick them together to make shapes.

For the baby, we brought things like baby books, rattles, blankets, and toys that lit up and made noise.

Bring Snacks

Bring plenty of snacks and food for the trip. In addition to meals, plan easy-to-eat and less-mess snacks for the car or any stops. Bonus points if the snacks are new or not part of your usual repertoire. Some of our favorites include Annie’s fruit snacks, pouches, yogurt covered raisins, Annie’s cheddar bunnies, Barbara’s Puffins cereal, grapes, sliced pear, grilled cheese cut up into fun shapes.

Be Flexible

Don’t go into the car trip with a rigid plan. Will you sit in the front or in the back with the kids? Be prepared to do either. Will you stop exactly two times for one hour each and make it to your final destination in exactly nine hours? Maybe not (what if the baby has a blowout after your 2nd stop?). Will your kids nap at their usual naptime? Possibly. It’s okay (and probably a good idea) to make a plan before you get into the car, but just be prepared to throw it out the window or adapt if needed.  

Plan Stops

If you don’t have a hard timeline (see above tip: be flexible), plan a few fun stops along the way. For an eight-hour car trip, it’s nice to plan one or two stops where our toddler can run around and use up some energy. For us, this has meant finding a park that is not far off the route (bonus points if there’s a playground) and near some kid-friendly restaurants so that we can stop, grab a bite to eat and then run around and play. Yes, this takes time, but it makes the trip much more fun for our toddler.

Leave at Night or Around Naptime

We have only done this once and it was the best. After about one hour of crying and whining, the kids slept for almost the whole ride. Getting them back to bed once we got to our final destination wasn’t easy, but it made for a quiet and hassle-free car ride.

Have a Secret Weapon (or Two)

Sometimes all the toys, snacks and stops are not enough. That’s when it’s time for your secret weapon. For our baby, this can mean a few extra toys that light up or play music. For the toddler, this means toys that aren’t used on a regular basis, such as his toy laptop and my iPad with Sesame Street or other kids’ TV downloaded on it. We don’t always have to bring these out, but they have definitely helped make the trips easier.

Questions for you:

  • What’s the longest you’ve ever traveled in the car with kids?
  • What age do you find easiest to travel with kids?

Note-  this post contains a few affiliate links. And aversion of this post originally appeared on Northeast Ohio Parent Magazine’s website.

A weekend of celebrations

It was a busy, busy weekend for us- it reminded me of our weekends before we had kids when we just packed it all in. We had 2 birthday celebrations, brunch and more.

Friday started out with a work of Saint Patrick’s day party. We play the game with lucky charms and sadly I did not win.

Fridays during Lent mean no meat. B was originally going to make some veggie tacos, but we didn’t have any of the ingredients (whoops!) so we ordered takeout. Sushi is pretty much my favorite.

Saturday morning I had either a 5k on the schedule or 7 miles – I opted to do 7 miles and I’m glad I did. It was hard – I haven’t run that much since before LM was born and more than a year ago, but I was happy to have finished it.

Saturday afternoon, we celebrated B’s mom’s birthday. We started with some fun at an escape room.

And then, it was off to shuffleboard.

FW had fun hanging out with his cousins.

FW had fun until he took a spill. He split his lip in a few places and it was a little traumatic for all involved.

Sunday morning started with St. Patrick’s Day brunch! B invited over some friends for some traditional Irish food.

This meant eggs, soda bread, potatoes and lots of meats.

FW had fun playing with Celia.

That afternoon, FW had a birthday party to go to. He and LM were celebrating Clara’s 3rd birthday.

FW had a blast running and jumping around in the gym.

As did LM 🙂

Sunday night, we didn’t have dinner at B’s parents’ house since we had spent half the day with them Saturday. So, we did some meal prep and even made meatballs and sauce – FW was a great helper!

It was a fun but busy weekend – I’m glad we did so much but I’m also hopeful to relax a bit next weekend!

Some questions for you:

  • Are you a Lucky Charms fan?
  • Do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

Cleveland Half Marathon Training: Week Three

I’ll start this post by confessing that while I didn’t follow this week’s training 100%, I did get in 5 runs, includimg a long run. So for week 3 of Cleveland half marathon training, it wasn’t bad.

The week called for off days on Thursday and Friday, and then a 5k race on Saturday. I didn’t have any races planned, so I opted to get in a long run Saturday instead (and still get out for a short run Thursday … it was 55 degrees when I came home from work — I had to!). So here’s what the week looked like:

I was so excited to have THREE outdoor runs, including 1 done in the evening! I somehow got home before B and the kids on Thursday, so I prepped some dinner and then got outside for a short run before we ate. I can’t imagine doing this on a regular basis, but it was fun!

I was also excited about my long run this weekend. I haven’t run this long since before LM was born and probably since I was last training for a half – so it’s been about 2 years!

Some questions for you:

  • What’s the longest run you’ve done recently?
  • Do you have favorite running socks?

Note: I am a Cleveland marathon ambassador! That means I get free race entry for me, and a free race entry to giveaway. Wanna run CLE with me? Don’t forget, I have a 10% discount for you!

clé marathon discount

Today, I’m linking up with Deborah and Kim for the Weekly Run Down.

Cleveland Half Marathon Training: Week Two

And now, week two of Cleveland half marathon training is done.

This week, I was only sick a few days, which helped a TON. My eye infection healed, but then LM came down with a fever and likely HFM (along with teething), which is making sleep fun. I also was away for the weekend, which made the schedule change a bit – I did my long run on Friday and then got in an impromptu run on Saturday.

Saturday’s run included some great views – look at the frozen lake! It was also the first run I’ve had outside in forever so any views would’ve been great.

This week’s Tuesday Topic is are you a morning runner or an evening runner?

I’m DEFINITELY a morning runner. I can’t imagine running at night – running is how I start my day nearly every day of the week. It’s the only way I function some days! Plus, my days/nights are pretty crazy that if I ran at night, it would have to be after the kids are in bed and wouldn’t be until after 9 p.m. some nights (which would be too late for me). Here is how I make it happen:

  • I sleep in my running clothes when I can. Maybe it’s gross, but it makes it so much easier to get out and run! And when I don’t, I make sure my clothes are set out and ready to go.
  • I figure out my running route and plan before I go to bed. I don’t want to have to think in the morning.
  • I set multiple alarms. I don’t always wake up with one alarm.

Some questions for you:

  • Are you a morning or evening runner?
  • Do you run on vacation?

Note: I am a Cleveland marathon ambassador! That means I get free race entry for me, and a free race entry to giveaway. 

Wanna run CLE with me? Don’t forget, I have a 10% discount for you!

clé marathon discount

Linking up with Tuesday Topics!

Girls’ Weekend – LCBS Retreat

This weekend, I spent a few nights away from the family. My Ladies Craft Beer Society got together for a mini-getaway to celebrate our fifth anniversary.

Friday night we all got in at different times and proceeded to eat, drink (beer and bubbly!) and catch up. It’d been while since any of us had been together without kids and it was nice to have two hands (for two drinks, obvs) but also to be able to sit back and just talk as our own selves. I personally stayed up too late – past midnight! – and then was up before 7 a.m. to pump the next morning.

The next morning started off with an amazing breakfast – our friend Marissa was in charge of food and made us an amazing French toast casserole.

After breakfast, I decided to head out for a run. It was chily but a beautiful day and I got to pass this gorgeous view – look at the lake!

And of course, because it was my ladies CRAFT beer society, we also did some crafting!

That night, we went out to dinner at a local winery, and then grabbed drinks at a local brewery.

Because of the time change, we didn’t end up staying out as late, but instead spent the night catching up.

Sunday, we got up early and hit the road. For a weekend away from the kids, I ended up pretty tired! I can’t hang like I used to.

It was a great weekend, though, and I am so glad I got to catch up with my ladies!

Some questions for you:

  • When was the last time you had a getaway?
  • What kind of wine do you like?

Cleveland Half Marathon Training: Week One

Week one of Cleveland half marathon training is done!

I’ll be honest, while I pretty much was able to follow the plan, it wasn’t my best week ever. I was still feeling under the weather and then Fri/Sat came down with an eye infection (yay!) so overall haven’t been myself lately.  But the week is done and here it is:

That brings my February total to 85 miles. 

The next week includes pretty similar training, but with a 30 min tempo run instead of the intervals and a 6-mile run instead of 5 miles. I’m not going to be home Saturday, so I’ll probably try to run my 6 on Friday. We’ll see how that plays out!

This week’s Tuesday Topic is running wish list. What’s on my wish list for training?

  • A healthy, injury-free training season. I’m so tired of being sick and would love to stay healthy this season!
  • Sleep! I’m seriously lacking in the sleep department with 2 kids under the age of 3, including a 9 month old who still doesn’t sleep through the night every night. And I notice that on the nights I get 7-8 hours, I run much better than the nights I’m getting 4 and waking up lots.
  • New shoes. I’ve got 500+ miles on my grey Saucony Ride 10s, but can’t seem to find a similar pair I like right now. I will keep looking, but for now am running in some Ride 9s.

Some questions for you:

  • What kind of shoes do you run in?
  • Do you follow a specific training program?

Note: I am a Cleveland marathon ambassador! That means I get free race entry for me, and a free race entry to giveaway. 

Wanna run CLE with me? Don’t forget, I have a 10% discount for you!

clé marathon discount

Linking up with Tuesday Topics!

Cleveland Half Marathon Training Starts Now!

Well, the time has come – Cleveland half marathon training is here!

At the beginning of the year, it seemed like I had so much time to kill and that it wouldn’t be training time any time soon. But suddenly, it’s here.

Of course I’m getting over a cold, so I’m not at peak running level, but I’d rather feel this way now as opposed to race day. What’s my training look like? I am a big fan of Hal Higdon’s plans, so I’ll be once again using his training program. Here’s a slightly modified version of what I’ll be doing:

Each week, I’ll share my training – how it went, what I actually ran, etc. My goals are to do the full training program and run my best. I’d love to do another sub-2 hour half marathon but I’m not sure how training will go this year. I’m not in as good shape as I was last time I ran a half marathon, my lack of sleep is real (see: 2 kids under 3) and I have been having a hard time finding enough time to run every morning (again, 2 young kids). But enough excuses – it’s training season! And here we go!

Some questions for you:

  • What are you training for?
  • What training program do you use?

Note: I am a Cleveland marathon ambassador! That means I get free race entry for me, and a free race entry to giveaway. 

Wanna run CLE with me? Don’t forget, I have a 10% discount for you!

clé marathon discount

Linking up for the first time with Tuesday Topics!