Whenever we are planning to go on a long road trip with our 6 children, as we will be in June, though, I prepare in advance for possible boredom by stocking up on activity books, new crayons, and small toys at the Dollar Store. I get crossword books or word searches for the older ones, connect the dots or color by number for the middles, and scribble pads for the littles. I also get some special snacks that we usually don't have, like Teddy Grahams and juice boxes. I don't let any of the kids see what I have bought.
Then, the night before the trip, I have everyone put their backpacks on the couch before they go to bed, so I can fill them up with their "trip surprises".
When we get on the road, I tell them that if there is no complaining, when we get to the next town they can choose 1 item to take out of their backpacks. I remind them that if they remain joyful and patient, they get to take another item of their choosing out after another hour, and so on until we get there.
They love the anticipation, and it makes a long trip a little more interesting.
[Whatever you do, do not put Silly Putty in with their surprises. Trust me. One year I did this and during the trip, one of the kids complained that they had lost theirs. "No problem," I said, "It'll turn up sooner or later."
Oh yeah, it turned up all right.
We had found a little country church just outside of Atlanta where we could attend worship services. During one of the "stand and sing" portions of the service, I noticed that some teenagers sitting in the pew behind me were giggling hysterically, which I found odd since I didn't see anything funny about "This Is My Father's World".
At one point, I looked back to see what was so funny and I saw their eyes dart up from a southerly direction. Self consciously, I rubbed the back of my dress, and to my horror, I felt the missing flesh colored Silly Putty clinging stubbornly to the back of my navy dress like a barnacle on a tug boat.
I inconspicuously contorted myself like a Chinese acrobat to try to wrest that rubbery blob from my back side, all the while trying to act like I wasn't about to die of embarrassment thinking of all the people who had just seen me with a glob of gummy goop on my hind end.
So, please, just say no to Silly Putty on road trips.]
If there is any whining or fussing, we resort to something I have seen at Amy's Humble Musings and at Mommy Life. I figure if it's good enough for them, then it's good enough for me, and I think it's worth repeating here.
I like to call this tactic, "Don't mess with Momma on a road trip."