Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Long car rides with potty-trained toddlers. Lessons learned.

We go to Texas at least once a year because my husband is from Lubbock. Before we had a child, we drove the 1100 miles straight through, stopping only in Memphis, Texarkana and Dallas for quick pee-and-a-sandwich-breaks (we never set foot in Arkansas, as a rule). Driving that far with a toddler is crazy, but driving that far with a potty-trained toddler is just absurd. I almost not-really-but-almost wish we had just spent the $2000 on plane tickets instead. 

To ruin the suspense, I'll tell you that the wee boy traveled great and didn't have a single accident despite having to occasionally wait up to 20 minutes after asking to go potty. We had a portable one with us, and I could have pulled over on the side of the road, I suppose. He is a runner, however, and I couldn't get the intrusive thoughts of what might have happened out of my head, so I opted to risk him peeing in his car seat to wait for a gas station. 

It didn't take long for the Wee Boy to learn that if he told us he needed to go potty, we would pull off the interstate as quickly as possible, and he would get to run around in a store full of candy. It was like the perfect "Little Boy Who Cried Wolf" because we had to believe him every single time, or we were the ones who would suffer. 

Anyway, he did amazingly well and didn't pee his pants, but all those extra stops added up quickly. It took us three days of driving to get home from Lubbock this time, when we used to drive for 18-19 hours straight and just get it done. This year Oklahoma seemed every bit as big as Texas, and Joplin, Missouri, as long as California (do you know how much time we spent trying to find Panera Bread??). 

A couple of tips for long car rides with a newly potty-trained toddler:

1. Put him in a pull-up, even if he hasn't worn them in months. Just. In. Case.
2. Forgo your screen time restrictions. (I was/am a screen-time nazi. But not on 3000 mile car rides.)
3. Bring grandpa along and make him ride in the back seat with the toddler so that someone is avilable from all angles to pick up the Hot Wheels that fall on the floor. (Thanks, Granddude!)
4. Forgo your snacking restrictions. Our family was like a bunch of gross Americans. We even had a cooler. So much for teaching our child not to eat out of boredom. But Oklahoma is soooooooo loooooooong!
5. Remember that "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" is probably not a song you want your child singing to his preschool class when you get back from Winter Break.
6. Most parents will suggest you drive at night. This totally backfired on us, as the Wee Boy hates sleep and hates sleeping in his car seat overnight. We tried leaving Lubbock around his bedtime, hoping to drive about 5 hours while he slept. Instead he cried off and on for 3.5 hours before we gave up and got a hotel somewhere just past the border.
7. Take a train instead. Anything but driving.

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