Knowing that we would be traveling over 1400 miles on the road in a span of just over a week, we gave some thought to how we were going to handle having a non-talking child in the car. She doesn’t understand the concepts of “We’ll be there in an hour” or “Be good today and you’ll get presents tomorrow”, and the last time we a drive of this length, she had just started walking. Now, running around seems to be one her main pastimes. We considered getting an iPad and a mount to play movies on for the drive. Brooklynn loves to play with my iPod, but she can't resist pushing the one button on the face of it - you know, the one button that immediately exits whatever movie or program we're trying to help her run. Which is why we looked at a mount to put an iPad on the back of a seat like an in-car entertainment system. The same sort of entertainment system that Rhiannon and I tend to ridicule when we see them going around the local streets of our suburb.
And, in the end, we did admit to ourselves that an iPad was more of a toy that we were interested in and not something for Brooklynn or a car ride.
Some people told us that we were crazy for not at least having a portable DVD player and that one of those was the only thing that kept them sane in the car on their last trip with kids. So we looked at getting one of those. Much cheaper than an iPad with far worse battery life or a requirement to be plugged in. Do you know what Brooklynn does with cords? She pulls them. Until they come unplugged. And if they don't, she pulls harder and then sometimes she screams. And, just like the iPad, she pushes buttons if they are available.
So we decided to give it a go without any sort of electronic movie device. (Yes, I really wanted to justify the iPad purchase because I think one would be cool, but we're going without for now.) Rhiannon wrapped a few books and we grabbed a couple of the smaller presents we already had picked out for her. We figured that unwrapping a new toy every so often might provide a distraction for a tiny person trapped in a car seat.
Traveling in the winter for Christmas tends to fill the car up. We haul presents up and back, we take winter clothes which take up more room and we throw in some winter coats and survival gear for good measure. This means that we fill in the back of the car and start putting bags in the empty back seat. (Yes, I realize this does not bode will if we do in fact have another child with our current vehicle line up.)
We anticipated that Rhiannon would spend some of the drive in the back with Brooklynn which would mean that all of the stuff piled in the empty seat would have to moved to front seat. Not ideal, but we were preparing for the worst. If the drive there was really that bad, we said that we would buy a portable DVD player for the way back.
We didn't buy anything extra. Rhiannon spent zero minutes in the back seat.
Over three days of driving and around 20 hours in a car, we opened one wrapped book on the way there. On the way home, she played with a pillow and a new cat piano she got for Christmas. Most exciting item both ways - a water bottle that fit in the cup holder on her car seat.
Yes, Rhiannon unbuckled a few times to turn around and reach things that Brooklynn dropped. We spend a little extra time stopped for lunch both ways to let her get out and stretch. She's still in a diaper, so we never ran in to the situation of someone requesting a bathroom a mile past a rest stop or five minutes after leaving a gas station.
We have ourselves a road tripper.
Unfortunately, I'm still looking for a good justification to buy an iPad.