Cragmama "Not all who wander are lost…" JRR Tolkien

Making your Cragbaby a good “Car-baby”

Did somebody say road trip?!?

Ah, the family road trip.  There’s nothing like an 8 hour car ride to get your family vacation started on the right foot!  If your climbing family is anything like ours (ie you don’t have an unlimited supply of cash, frequent flyer miles, or world-class climbing in your backyard) you are probably racking up more mileage on your bumper-sticker laden SUV than you’d like to admit.  And all that mileage adds up to a lot of hours in the car together…very close together, maybe even touching, since your tent, camp stove, and climbing pack are taking up the majority of the backseat.  Sitting in rush hour traffic on a Friday afternoon watching the minutes slowly tick by can be painful enough for an adult jonesing for fresh mountain air – add in a young baby/toddler?  You might as well have the whole family committed now because if you’re not careful, it’ll make everyone go crazy.

So how do you make all those long cramped, hours in the car manageable?  The following steps won’t get you there any sooner, but hopefully will help the time fly by faster.

1.  TIMING IS EVERYTHING -Most young children are champion car sleepers, if given the right opportunity.  Try to log most of your car hours for when your little one would naturally be taking a nap.  Hopefully this will give you at least an hour or two to read through the guidebook and pick out a couple of projects for the upcoming weekend.

A dirty Cragbaby snoozing after a long day on the rocks

2.  PROVIDE ENTERTAINMENT – Be sure to have a near endless supply of books, toys, snacks, music, and other time-consuming activities freely available.  It’s amazing how long a half cup of Cheerios can last a 1 year old perfecting his pincer grasp!  One fun car ride tradition we established early on was to make personalized books for C, using our own pictures and the pre-made templates from Shutterfly.  He has a “Let’s Go Climbing” book that we always break out on the way to the crag, as well as a “Meet My Family” book that is perfect when we are on the way to see relatives!  Now we have a family tradition that not only has sentimental value, but also gives the C-Monster something to look forward to on a road trip (we only read those books in the  car.)

3.  GO WITH THE FLOW – Throw away the schedule and allow for flexibility on your road trips.  If Cragbaby is sleeping, we sure as heck don’t stop unless we are running on fumes or someone (usually me) is about to wet their pants.  But if he’s awake and getting antsy, we don’t hesitate to stop and let everyone stretch their legs, even if its just in a small patch of green space at a truck stop.

Getting psyched on the way to the crag

 

 

4.  THE BUDDY SYSTEM – Put yourself in your baby’s little wee shoes for a moment.  You’ve been in the car for 30 minutes of grown-up time (which in toddler time is probably closer to 2 hours).  You hear your favorite voices, so you know Mommy and Daddy are nearby, but you’re stuck in the backseat, facing the wrong direction.  Its not surprising that you might get a little cranky back there all by your lonesome!  If your tyke tends to get fussy, try playing musical chairs and sending the non-driver back.  The extra company might just be enough to take the edge off until you get to your final destination.

5.  START EARLY – No matter how you look at it, children and car rides will never be a fantastic combination.  But if introduced early, hopefully they will be able to view the “road” part of trips as a necessary annoyance they must tolerate to get to the “trip” part.

Are we there yet?!?

What secrets do you have for maintaining your sanity on road trips?

Share

12 Responses to “Making your Cragbaby a good “Car-baby””

  1. Great tips! We plan longer local drives around our little one’s nap time. We haven’t driven further than three hours with her yet, but she’s done pretty well the times we’ve gone that far.

    Reply

  2. Making your Cragbaby a good “Car-baby” http://t.co/W8iWWSn via @cragmama

    Reply

  3. Monique Kirby

    Good gosh, Erica, can there be a more expressive baby? What the heck do you feed that child? Such a happy little cutie!

    Reply

    • @Family Wilds – Enjoy the nap timing while you can – It’s getting harder and harder to time trips with C’s naps now that he’s down to one, and we can’t leave for weekend trips til later on in the afternoon…So far our solution has been to give him a short nap midmorning so that he can make it til the car ride, and usually he’ll konk out for an hour and a half or so during the first part of the ride.

      @Monique – Mama’s milk, heavy doses of sunshine, and probably a good bit of dirt 🙂

  4. Addy

    We did a 2-day (19+hr) car journey to Canada with our little one and we were totally surprised. Like you, we only stopped when baby was awake and we used our stops wisely, mama nurses while daddy gets gas/food/toilet break/whatever else needed to be done. Then a quick bathroom break for mom while daddy entertains, then be on our way again! We also always had someone in the back seat for company and we all listened to a lot of white noise during the fussy periods to get baby back to sleep! Keeping baby entertained and happy makes for a better road trip for everyone!

    Reply

    • @Addy – Wow 19 hours is impressive! How old was your little guy (gal?) when you made the trip? We are also big fans of the nursing while Daddy pumps gas routine! We get so tired of listening to certain CD’s over and over again, but it beats whining and screaming any day! Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂

  5. Kristen

    Ahhh, great post! Love those Shutterfly books you made for him!

    Reply

  6. Jessica Greene

    The special books are a great idea! One thing that I could suggest is that try traveling at different times with your child. I learned that Naomi doesn’t travel well at night; We take a 14+ trip every summer, if she can see what is going on and participate she does much better. I also rotate the toys and books.

    Reply

    • @Kristen – Thanks! We love the Shutterfly books too!

      @Jessica – I think you bring up a great point, and that is to know what works for your child. Every child/toddler/baby is unique, and what works for one child won’t for the next (and what works for your child today might not work next month!)

  7. Love the special book idea! We have an iPod for our 4 year old, which I know sounds odd, but it has ALL his favorite songs and audio books. It entertains him for hours, and it’s better than a movie because he can still look out the window, play with some toys, interact with the rest of the traveling participants and pick out all the songs or books he wants on his own.

    Reply

    • Now that’s an interesting idea…an iPod does seem much better than having a DVD player that a child will just zone out and stare at without interacting with anyone else, but you get similar benefits in that it is a good time-eater…Thanks for sharing!

  8. wewhoclimb

    Great thoughts and we love the books you made! We just upgraded to a minivan, two cragbabies and sometimes our dog pushed us to our wits end in the Element (only seats 4). The van frees up all kinds of space and options for seating, movement and even sleeping quarters. We also took the iPod a step further and we keep our iPad stashed as our last ditch time killer with our 2 year old. Makes the long drives go by in a flash, thx to Dora! The infant and feeding is the real time killer in the 5+ hour drives. Lots of feeding stops, patience is key!

    Reply

Leave a Comment Life is in the conversation.

*Required

Your email will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

“Not all who wander are lost.” —JRR TOLKIEN