Going on a long car trip with your kids? Planning that big vacation to the beach, grandma’s house, Disney, or that random relative you have in Kansas?
Are you worried or stressed? Concerned about how y0ou, your spouse, and your children are going to handle all of those miles in the car together? Well Doctor Travis is here to help. I’m going to share with you the 7 stages of long trips with children. Knowing these stages will help you be better aware of what’s to come and plan your trip accordingly.
Stage One: Unbridled Optimism – “Yay! We’re going to Disney/Grandma’s/the Beach! What fun we’re going to have! We’re on vacation! Family memories will be made!”
In stage one everyone is happy, excited, and blissfully unaware of the difficulty of what’s to come. This will be the best part of your trip by far.
Doctor Travis says: Enjoy stage one as long as possible.Savor your unrealistic expectations now because it won’t last long. Children can ruin stage one in the time it takes to drop a drink on the floor of the van or hit their sister in the face with a stuffed animal.
Stage Two: Settling In – “Okay people we’ve got six hours to go. Get out your drawing pad/books/toys. No, we’re not stopping; we just left the house.”
In stage two the driver of the vehicle has settled into cruise control, the GPS is set on your destination, and the other parent is trying to get the children to bunker down for the trip. If a parent has planned well the children will now have their hands full of games, snacks, activities, and other distractions guaranteed to keep them occupied for at least the next 5 minutes.
Recommendation: Accept the fact children will fight against stage two. They don’t want to settle in. They just want to get there. Here we begin the annoying question you’ll hear for the next 5 and a half hours. “Are we there yet?” Accept this annoyance, it’s not going to stop. Ever.
Stage Three: Interruptions – “I’ve gotta go to the bathroom. I’m hungry. I’m thirsty. Are we there yet? I don’t like this movie! My stomach hurts. So and so touched my foot.”
Now things begin to go downhill.
Kids are no longer interested in their toys. Their bladders, which you made sure to empty before you left, are miraculously full again. You end up having to stop at a seedy gas station and what should be a 5 minute rest stop turns into a 20 minute disaster. If you’re lucky you won’t reach stage three for at least an hour. If God has poured out his favor on your trip, then maybe you make it an hour and a half. More realistically, you could reach stage three in 30-45 minutes.
Doctor Travis says: Buy yourself your favorite candy bar and drink, (non-alchoholic, remember you’re still driving), to console yourself.
Stage Four: Weariness – “Are we there yet? Why is this taking so long? Why did you take this road? What is that smell in the backseat?”
Now fatigue has set in. You’ve still got a long way to go, but you’re sick of driving. Your body aches from sitting in one position for so long. Parents get chippy with one another. The children are in outright revolt in the back seat. If you’re lucky you’ve got some sort of DVD player they can watch, but even that is no guarantee of relief. You can only pacify your kids for so long. Every mile mocks you with how far you have left to go.
Recommended Prayer:”Help me Jesus not kill my children, wife, husband, dog, or other drivers on the road. Amen.”
Stage Five: Losing It – “Ha ha, hee hee, Woo hoo!”
Here you start laughing uncontrollably. The stress of the trip has worn down your brain so much that you sort of lose your mind. You don’t care anymore. Anything and everything can and will be funny in stage five. This is one of the better parts of the trip because it can lead to great memories of you and the kids doing absolutely ridiculous things and making everybody laugh.
My thoughts: Enjoy it. Entering stage five means you’re probably almost there, but you still have…
Stage Six: Zombieland – “………………………………………………….”
The laughter is gone. The movies have been watched. The snacks have been eaten. All your CDs have been played. Your brain is fried. The children are whimpering in the backseat. Your body feels gross and stiff. The dog may or may not have thrown up in the back, but at this point you don’t care. Everyone is staring blankly at the road ahead, which drags on and on and on…You’re wondering whose idea was it to go on vacation in the first place.
Recommendation: Hey don’t look at me. This was your idea.
Stage Seven: You made it – “Everybody get out.”
Congratulations. You survived. Now go and enjoy your trip. But don’t enjoy it too much.
Remember, there’s still the ride home.