So here it is my big traveling secret: it ain't pretty. Big shocker, right? But we make it through and it is always worth the miles and miles of vehicular confinement in the end.
I have learned to start out the trip expecting the worst. Think tantrums, screaming children and crying baby for hours on end. Then when those do occur and only last a few minutes I am pleasantly surprised. Although admittedly those minutes can feel like hours. Plus I always mentally add on a couple extra hours of drive time so it is a bonus when we make it somewhat 'on time'.
So what exactly do I do for 8 hours of driving alone with the kids? Let me be completely honest here, it is a whole lot of screen time and snacks. The movies are available at their finger tips. They just have to take turns choosing the movie. Side note: I thought I was all fancy with my 2 screen DVD player. Then about 60 seconds into our trip I heard "He's looking at my TV! Don't look at my TV." Are you kidding me?!? So now we travel with ONE screen for the whole world to look at if they want! The snacks are individually packaged and at my fingertips:) Side note: on my last trip I packed just the right amount of snacks for the two big kids. Umm yeah, that was a failure. Let me explain. The big kids are in the back of the van. Meaning I am chucking these snacks back at them. I am NOT an athlete. My success rate is probably between 25 and 50% (that might be an over estimate:). I have seen (in my rear view mirror) more crackers bounce off my daughter's head then I care to admit. So now I travel with a mountain of snacks and each time we stop I collect all the wayward ones.
The kids also have a few toys next to them as well as coloring supplies. I do put a LARGE stash of books between them. And when they get bored of movies, which they do, they read and color. For the baby I have a bag FULL of toys next to me and I periodically hand her a new one. Ideally before she cries. Her "snacks" consisted of crackers, string cheese and pouched baby food. So you can only imagine the mess that was her carseat.
Back in my one child days I would have never allowed endless screen time while traveling. But then again during those days I was only traveling 150 miles to visit family AND I had my husband with me. Like I said before, it ain't pretty but we make it work. So there you have it the full truth about traveling solo with kids.
My husband was gracious enough to unload the van upon our arrival home. He asked me, "What happened in there? It is carnage." To which I promptly responded, "The kids and I practically lived in there for the past month and travelled 1900 miles. A better question is what didn't happen in there?"