Just recently the kids and I completed 5 stages of a road trip for our PCS from Hawaii to North Carolina. The last leg of our trip was over 800 miles, two days and 15 hours of driving. I am flying solo and needed all the help I could get dealing with three children under the age of 6 with ASD. And guess what? We all survived. Which means there was a small glimmer of doubt in my mind we wouldn’t. I did picture a few times strapping my children to the top of my car like a hood ornament. But saner minds prevailed and all my children carried out the road trip in style in the back of the car. However, it was not without it’s moments of “are we there yet”. So how did I not throw myself out of the moving vehicle due to incessant complaining and fighting?
First, I prepared them. I got on my iPhone and plugged our route into an driving app- Waze. It told us how long it was going to take, all road hazards and police on our route and the route. The kids were able to scroll around the map and see the towns and other things we would pass. It gave them a plan; they knew what to expect.
Next, I made a roadtrip basket. We have some new to me stores on the mainland called Five Below (where everything is under $5.) they had some foldable, collapsable and flimsy baskets. The metal got crushed and dented; but the basket still works and it was only $5.
I filled the basket with age and skill level appropriate travel games like Candyland, Old Maid, Go Fish and a normal deck of cards. I added in coloring books, Crayola mess free markers, picture books and mess free snacks (think squeezable applesauce, snack traps with goldsfish and cheese and cracker packs). I stuck the basket within reach of my oldest and with the instructions they must ask before getting a snack and he must help his sister get what she needs. Bug being the hard core rule follower was great at his job. I played into his skill and told him it was an important job. He loved being responsible and it calmed him down knowing he was in charge of that situation.
The last thing I did was almost the greatest and cheapest. I found two suction cupped baskets at Walmart. They are used for sticking bars of soap or toothbrushs in while hanging in the shower. Inside them I places the kids mess free markers and headphones. This way the smaller items must likely to get lost where contained. They also used it as their trash can and to hold other items. I have seen them in much larger sizes. I stuck them to their windows and bam! They had everything they needed at the fingertips.
Of course there was fighting, but at least for the most part there was silence.