5 Steps to Entertaining Kids on a Road Trip

How do you do it?

No seriously. HOW do you do it?!?!

I am a planner, so before we head out anywhere, I’ve got a trunk full of supplies that we might need if someone spills something, pees something, gets cold, gets A cold, is hungry, bored, and so forth. Even with that extra tonnage in my poor little trunk, a Mom’s plan doesn’t always stick. #rude. Also, don’t get me wrong. I am NOT (I repeat, NOT) one of those lovely patient Mom’s who walks into a situation like this looking like it’s a breeze. I’m worked up and constantly telling myself it’s not ok to jump out of a moving vehicle when things get crazy.

So here’s the trick, in my opinion of course:

1. I really feel like kids don’t need a lot of STUFF, but COLOURING can keep them busy forever. Crayola seems to be my new best friend these days because you can print off a thousand colouring pages from their website and continue passing them into the back seat. (A THOUSANDDDD? Really…Ok, I’m dramatic, but let’s not forget that I’m TRAVELLING WITH KIDS FOR GOODNESS SAKES!!)

2. Snacks!! Yes, I know, my trunk is already filled with my trusty cooler in tow, but there is more fun to be had than just eating snacks. It takes a little bit of imagination and time, but it’s worth it for the 17 minutes of sanity you get in the car. Pack a a sandwich container (also used to display the little snack men and women) with edible items that can be put together to make a person. We’ve used a few straight pretzels, large and small marshmallows, licorice strings, Cheerios, berries, chocolate chips (those never seem to last), berries, shredded coconut and popcorn. I will not lie to you…I have no plan for these items, and there are often other randoms thrown in, but it’s the imagination part that is so entertaining for them.

3. Seat back DVD players. I’m no Saint. Mama needs some quiet time.

4. Depending on the length of the trip, wrap different toys they already own with newspaper (do those still exist?) Each hour they get to open a new package that will excite them for another 6 minutes until you’re yelling that they need to “FIGURE IT OUT” for another 54 minutes. It’s like that age old trick where you tell them to clean their room and they spend the entire time playing with toys they found. #winning

5. Pool Noodles. No, this isn’t a joke. You’ll likely have to cut them into thirds, and your kids need to be good sports about it, but these soft little swords can make for endless entertainment. First – hit each other with them. Then, when everyone is crying, pull out the pipecleaners and turn it into another craft. There is no doubt in my mind that your car will be an absolute disaster when you arrive at your destination but guess what….

Everyone arrives alive.

If you’ve got some brilliant ideas of your own, do not hoard them like you do with chocolate or wine. This is about sharing and we want to hear it! Send to diaryofdates@gmail.com

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Check out our NEWEST blog, highlighting our Dad & Daughter Date to uFly Simulator through WagJag Canada HERE!!

 

FREE Home Date Ideas for Couples

“What? That’s boring!”

Those above words came right out of my own mouth when someone suggested I have a weekly date with my husband at home in order to better balance my life with family and a home based business.

Let’s back up a little bit here. Anyone who has a job or kids, knows that time can fly by in the blink of an eye, and before we know it, weeks and sometimes months have passed without a date night. That was us. Our excuse was that since we both ran our own businesses, mine from home, and his with flexible hours, we saw more of each other than the average couple. True…BUT…what kind of quality time were we spending together?

Our date nights consisted of going grocery shopping together (a real treat without kids, let me tell you), followed by dinner. I can’t tell you how many times we planned for a movie on top of that (a real triple whammy), but when the clock said 8:45, we were just too tired to go.

At one point in my business, I had realized that the time I was putting into my work was taking away from the time I was spending with my husband. I told myself that because he was so understanding about what I did, that he didn’t mind, and he didn’t for the first few months. But, there’s a point where husbands and wives can become roommates if you don’t put in the time, and that’s what was happening to us.

When thinking about going on a date, the idea that a night out is expensive can cross the mind a few times. Add a babysitter on top of that, and this good ol’ Dutch girl starts averaging out what we might spend and what we could do with that money instead, so it gets kiboshed pretty quickly.

What we recognized though, was that dates don’t have to be expensive to be good dates. It’s not about where we go, how fancy our dinner is, what we wear or who we see. Dates are about spending time together and completely unplugging from the world, so we committed to making a weekly date night. Every Thursday night we put the girls to bed, close the laptop, put the phones away, and just spend time together to reconnect.

Here are a few of our date ideas that can be enjoyed at home, and just about at zero added cost:

  • Make a late dinner together and enjoy it with a glass of wine and REAL conversation (without the children throwing noodles or suddenly needing to have something wiped – every.single.time).
  • Watch a movie and hold hands while sitting next to each other instead of lounging on two different sides of the sectional.
  • Play a board game (and bet a few bucks on it if you’re willing). The friendly wager makes for hilarious competition. I’ve won a foot rub or two in my lifetime.
  • Make a vision board together and set goals for the future. Chatting about your ideas for the future, where you want to travel to, what you want to accomplish personally and as a family can be a really powerful tool for connection. This is a great way to know you’re both on a solid path for the future, plus, it usually adds to another level of understanding about what your partner wants in life and how you can support them.
  • Ask “first date questions”. I bet you’ll be surprised to realize how many things you didn’t know about your partner, or had forgotten about. What did they want to be when they grew up? If they could sit with one person, dead or alive, who would it be?
  • Dance. Slow, or fast, but I bet you haven’t danced together in a while.
  • Draw pictures of each other. This can be just downright hilarious, or insulting.
  • Have a picnic in your living room, TV off, enjoying the level of cuteness you just reached as a couple.
  • Have a bubble bath.
  • Do the “5 Love Languages” test online. This test did WONDERS for us, took 10 minutes (tops) but gave us the answers for a lifetime of happiness in marriage!
  • Bake. Wear an apron. Chosen attire underneath is up to you.
  • Take pictures of each other. As you commit to your weekly dates, keep these pictures each week to remember the moments you’ve created together, and look back at how young you once were together, and look ahead at the beautiful laugh lines you will showcase because of the life you’ve built.

Here’s the real dinger, my friends.

We do these things. We cook, bake, eat, watch TV, dream, and play, but the #1 thing that has helped our relationship grow to higher levels is adding communication to whatever we are doing. In a world filled with stimulation, the art of communication is easily lost. Compliment each other. Tell your spouse what you admire most about them. What makes them a great parent? What is their greatest quality? What made you fall in love with them?Dating at home is easy, affordable, and the most beautiful way to be without makeup, in the glow of the life you’ve built, dreaming of the next chapters you will write together.

The picture above is one we took together at home, girls napping, an hour to ourselves. Raw, real, together. Chairs on the table because our toddler is a climber. Laundry piled high. Dust bunnies in corners. Together. Forever.

 

 

 

Christmas – Give the Gift of Making Memories

Though we’re only about a week into November, stores have been showcasing their Christmas gear for a couple of weeks now, and guess what? I love it!  But, if you’re like me, two plus months of Christmas all up in my grill meant I was spending twice as much money on STUFF.

When my first daughter was born, Christmas morning was a gong show. She didn’t care about anything but the crinkle sound of the wrapping paper, and my idea of a “perfect Christmas” was squashed when she wasn’t as excited for her brand new pink shoes as I was when I bought them. Uh, excuse me, 11 month old…these kicks are amazing. *crinkle crinkle* Oh great, her full priced, unpractical, name brand pink kicks that she will only wear 4 times come with tissue paper. Neat. I might as well crumple up a few $20 dollar bills in a box and watch her rip those up instead.

Being the new baby, it seemed like everyone wanted to give her a toy or stuffie, and while the generosity and love oozed out of our friends and family during the season, the gifts didn’t get used nearly enough, and sat in her playroom looking adorable until the time came to donate to a new family.

So how do we get ready for the holidays and start new traditions that have less to do with presents, and more time with moments? I have been on many donation rampages where I whip through the house filling garbage bags and bins full of STUFF just to clear the clutter, and you know what? It feels GOOD! Last month I donated 4 garbage bags full of toys that the kids still haven’t noticed are gone – that was a real wake up call, especially when I was preparing myself for a war. (I shall consider this a Mom Win since those don’t happen so often. Note to self: send myself a medal).

Though STUFF is cute, fuzzy, twinkly and loud, it doesn’t do too much in the department of making memories or spending time with family, and before anyone thinks “She doesn’t like toys?? I bet she doesn’t let her kids watch TV either”…I do. More than they should. In fact, I would love for Santa to bring me some seat back DVD players for my car so I can drive 15 minutes in peace. The truth is, I waltz through Costco or Toys R Us and look at all the beautiful toys I know the kids would love for about 11 days, but I force myself to leave them on the shelves, because do you know what we have the most fun doing? STUFF.

Not having stuff, but doing stuff!

Here are some ideas that we try to follow as a family, and perhaps it’ll give you an idea to incorporate into your own traditions, or even give you a great gift idea for nieces, nephews, friends and grandparents:

My girls are 5 and 18 months, so when we write to Santa, we kindly ask him to only bring a few fun things for us, and to be sure to give the other toys to kids who are in need. (As a side note: teaching kids to GIVE more is a gift in itself). While Santa brings crafts, toys, and games, Mom and Dad are in charge of the books, needed clothing, and the STUFF that we hope they will remember doing as a family, like seasons passes to the African Lion Safari, which is amazing for all seasons (great splash pad!), indoor playground passes, butterfly conservatories, and movie tickets.

Some of my favourite gift ideas come from WagJag where you can search Family Activities like Disney On Ice tickets, Paintball, or even a Flight Simulation Experience! They’ve also got Travel experiences (my FAVOURITE) which are great for short getaways, dates with your significant other, or full out vacations! Right now, my list to Santa includes the Ice Hotel in Montreal (you hear me, Santa?), and some awesome getaways to Niagara Falls that include your stay, plus a ton of credits and discounts at local restaurants and attractions!

Now what on earth do we do with the pictures we take on these dates, because my scrapbooking career ended long ago after spending a bajillion dollars on supplies, only to make 3 pages and quit. With the ability to make awesome photo books through Shutterfly, I really don’t have to do any thinking (great news) and they look incredible! (Another great stocking stuffer idea for Mom! Santa…you better be reading this blog!)

Ultimately, we didn’t decide to have kids only to miss their milestones, or to work ourselves to the bone to see them before bed. This life, these kids, and our time is so precious, so when our kids are 30 and they tell us their favourite memories growing up, we’ll know it was more about the time spent together, and less about the stuff that filled their rooms.

…and if I may add one more thing here (I can, it’s my blog), take more pictures. I love a good selfie on occasion, but Dad – take more pictures of Mom, and Mom – take more pictures of Dad, both individually and with the kids. Take pictures when someone is laughing to tears, when one is reading to another, while someone is sleeping, while they hold hands walking into a store. Take pictures to mould memories of the little things that may not have formed as a memory yet, but when the kids look back at their photo book, they’ll see love in many forms. (Can I cry? It’s my blog)