Well I thought I'd put some driving tips and things we've learned on here, so people can maybe learn something for their next road trip, or at least just catch a glimpse of what ours days are usually like! There are some things we've learned that have really helped pass the time and keep people sane.
1. Less is more!! We've learned that the less toys and things the kids have, the better they'll play. It seems like when they have a lot of stuff they're not satisfied with what they have, so they'll constantly want something else and then get bored because they've "done it all". I don't know why it works this way, but having a small amount of toys really helps.
2. Set aside time. We put our kids' toys and activities into four categories: dolls/transformers; coloring/LeapPad; movie time; quiet and nap time. When we first set out on travels we'd let them do whatever they wanted, and what ended up happening was that they'd get bored of everything in just a few hours. So now we make a schedule and they're not allowed to mix the activities. If it's a school day, Noah does his school first thing and the girls can color or do their LeapPad. Lela usually ends up falling asleep! When Noah is done with school, they can play with their babies/Transformers. By then it's usually lunch time so after lunch it's quiet time/naptime. They don't have to sleep, but they don't get to play or watch a movie. Noah usually reads a book and the girls sleep. After that, if we're still traveling, they can watch a movie. We go in order of who gets to pick the movie and the other kids can't complain about what the movie is!! Lela will without fail pick Dumbo! They also can't play with toys or color or do anything else during movie time. They usually don't want to, but this is so they can enjoy the movie and be quiet! Movie time is a wonderful time for us in the front!
3. Give drinks at a minimum! The kids get a drink of water every hour or so. They're not expending any energy, so I don't know why they'd need it more! And they only get water or lemonade if we stop somewhere for lunch, no soda or tea. If we give the kids their own water to drink, we'd have to stop every hour. If we're about an hour away from our next stop, I'll get a bottle of water out for them to pass around and drink.
4. Keep it neat. We've learned to clean the van whenever we stop for a night. This means we put all the coloring stuff in the right bag, sort out the doll stuff and put it in the right owner's bag, pull things out from under the seat, throw away all trash, and reorganize anything that became askew. This is something I love to do! I hate it when I can't see the van floor. We also vaccum out the van once a week, getting in all the cracks and under carseats. When your van is your home, you have to keep it tidy!
5. Give the kids an out. When the kids get especially tired of being in the car, we just have screaming contests. We'll just all (including Caleb and me) scream and yell our lungs out until we're all laughing. This is a good thing to do when the kids are crabby and crying anyway. Usually if you start, they'll join in and have fun and start laughing. It's even more fun to do it with the windows down!
6. Game Time! Come up with games everyone can play. We play a reverse of I Spy. One of us will say "Find something purple" or "Find a blue truck" and the first person that finds it gets to pick the next object. This is really fun when you're driving off the interstate on country roads, there are more houses and towns.
Well anyway, I hope these tips were interesting to you and not too mundane! Traveling is a lot of fun, and it's a good way to spend quality time as a family!!