Roadtrippin' with a preschooler

Roadtrips are no easy feat with a toddler. The bean, who is almost 5, is a dream kid, but long car rides can get boring and tiresome (as can the "are we there yet?"). Given my family lives in Ottawa, we do a lot of roadtrips, and I've discovered a few ways to keep my little one happily amused for the drive. 

- Make them a surprise bag. You don't have to buy stuff (although the dollar store has tons of inexpensive ideas)... find some small sets of toys that are easy to pack up, as well as a few snacks and something to draw or colour with. Just having a surprise element to the activity will keep them enthralled.

- Create an easy scavenger hunt. This might be a bit more appropriate for older kids, but make a list of things that you should look for: deer crossing sign, a black Jeep, a farm with animals, etc. Give them a sheet of stickers to "check off" things on the list as they find it.

- Pack healthier snacks. It's easy to nosh on chips, cookies and candy while driving a long distance, but you'll regret it (and the salt/sugar overdose could turn your normally calm child into a restless mess). Sure, have a fun treat or two, but also pack things that are easy to enjoy on-the-go, such as drinkable yogurt, humus, fruit, nuts, and seeds. 

- Have a comfort item. Let your child choose a stuffy, blankie or something else that gives them comfort. It will make naps and quiet time more bearable for everyone!

And finally, before you leave on your roadtrip, prepare dinner (and freeze it) for the night you return. There's nothing worse than coming home from a busy vacation, faced with umpteen loads of laundry and hours of unpacking, and having nothing to eat. If you've been on the road you've likely over-indulged in snacks and fast food, and a home-cooked meal could be just what you and your little one need. Soups, stews and pasta are easy to defrost and can give you a nice dose of homemade goodness.

A full-time work-from-home mom of a toddler, Jennifer Cox (our “Supermom in Training”) loves dabbling in healthy cooking, craft projects, family outings, and more, sharing with MList readers everything she knows about being an (almost) superhero mommy.