Car travel with children can be wearisome or enchanting-- most often, both! The beginning of every trip you should make sure you have: A Sense of Humor, No Tight Schedule, and the Flexibility to change your plans if you have to. If you have to pack light, throw out the hairspray, but don't forget the sense of humor!
Infant and Child Safety Seats Car seats are designed to save children's lives. When I was a social worker working with teen moms I often had to drive young families to appoint- ments. I learned from the safety experts that it is imperative to have the car safety seats "up to snuff"-- as tempting as it is, rather than buy a good car seat second-hand from Craig's List, it is important to treat your youngsters as the 'precious cargo' that they are and to invest in a carseat that is ergonomically-correct and in all ways designed for safety. We actually just use the kids' usual car seats, transferring them from their van to our car.
Anchor them in properly from the middle of the trunk. If you have a vehicle that was built before the anchor mechanism was included as standard fare, take your vehicle over to a garage and have them put in an anchor for you and show you how to install the seat. Infant seats go in facing the back, toddlers face forward so as to see out the window.
Strap them in for safety. There is no leeway with this. Use the straps that are provided. Keep the trips short and make use of frequent breaks 'for freedom'.
There are all kinds of car seats now-- ones that turn into strollers or can be used as a baby carrier, etc. I don't seem to have the strength to tote around a twenty-something-pound baby so I generally leave the seat in the car and carry her.
Here are a few examples of some doodads and whatnots that are very handy to have in the vicinity of the car seat (ah progress!):
If you are the third or fourth adult in the car, the roles you choose might include:
Harmonizer: You choose to sit in between the small child and the parent in the backseat. The parent can snooze or carry on a convo with the adults in the front seat, and you can do the sorts of things that the parent would normally do if you weren't along on this car trip, i.e., soothe, nurture, entertain, and advocate for frequent stops. Car travel with kids is not for sissies!
Recreation Director: You come equipped with diverse diversionary tools that might be somewhat different from what Mom or Dad provide. You advocate for frequent stops.
Natural Gran's EMERGENCY KIT:It is quite likely that the family will have their own first aid or emergency pack, but this one will be special-- Gran's own kit. Pack the items in a carry-on bag or a backpack that you can grab at the ready. The kit should contain:
Flashlight with working battery (check before leaving)
Emergency phone numbers
Gauze pads, scissors
A Small Bottle of Water
The following pure essential oils with tight-fitting child-proof lids: Lemon, Peppermint, Lavender, Roman Chamomile and Peace & Calming. These will replace any toxic 'antiseptics' or 'children's Tylenol', etc. I also include a small jar of extra virgin coconut oil, a baggy of cotton balls, and a small spray bottle.
A little different from the usual First Aid kit, eh?