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July 7, 2010

Taming Toddlers During Road Trips with Kathleen Dienne

Thursday Thirteen

This week, I have a special guest–Kathleen Dienne, one of my fellow Carina Press authors. When I asked her to do a guest post, she volunteered to do a Thursday Thirteen. I think road trips with children sound quite interesting… :grin: Don’t forget to check out Kathleen’s new release Her Heart’s Divide!

Thirteen Things I Didn’t Know About Road Trips With Small Children

by Kathleen Dienne

Hello, Shelley readers! Your hostess, whose mountain of marvelous books is impressing the socks off this beginning author, was corresponding with me over author resources. She kindly invited me to contribute to this community.

To be honest, I’m kind of awkward in new communities. I didn’t used to be this way, but I decided to go pro with my writing (http://kathleendienne.com) at the exact same time that my sweet and tractable baby decided to become a toddler. As all you working moms (and if we’re moms, we’re working!) can attest, your world can get a little narrow when you’re trying to keep up with everything. I sure appreciate Shelley bringing me out of my cave to meet you :)

After my first book launched last month (Her Heart’s Divide), my husband and I decided to go on a family vacation. We hadn’t taken one since our son was born. We love road trips and living history, so the inaugural family trip was an eight hour drive to Dearborn, Michigan, and the Henry Ford museum and village.

All of you experienced parents are already laughing.

For those of you with no kids, read on.

1. Raisins seem like a wonderful car food, but they are not.

2. Anything that becomes sticky when you grind it into upholstery is a bad car food.

3. Especially bananas.

4. One should not feed a diaper-wearing toddler nothing but fruit for two hours.

5. If a small toy is dropped, you can find it by identifying the one spot no one in the car can reach without pulling over.

6. Every rest stop in Ohio looks identical. This will comfort your toddler and cause him to associate the graceful little dome with “getting out of the car.”

7. A child who sees the little dome as it passes by his window can be astonishingly loud.

8. There are a lot of eighteen-wheelers on our nation’s highways, and a toddler can say “Bye bye big truck!” to every… single… one of them.

9. You don’t think you can sing Old MacDonald’s Farm more than twenty times in a row until you’ve done it.

10. A child who wakes up if an ant sneezes can sleep through a storm beating down so hard that every vehicle on the road is forced to pull over and stop on the shoulder.

11. The hotel’s minifridge is just as fascinating as a costumed interpreter running a loom.

12. It is good to make time for a toddler to just run across a big lawn and shriek with glee.

13. If you’re genuinely trying to keep your kid happy and behaving well, pretty much everyone in the world wants to help you… so let them.

What are your favorite tips for toddler travel? Got any good disasters to share?

Her Heart’s Divide

Lila was a faithful, loyal wife.

Ryan was her sexy, loving husband.

And so was Jack…?

Jack, however, was her boss, not her husband—why was he claiming her as
his own? Lila had been passionately happy with Ryan for more than
seven years. Yes, there’d been a moment when she’d first been attracted to
Jack, but then she’d met his best friend, Ryan. They’d fallen in love and married.
Jack claimed that in his world, their attraction had led to the altar.

And now she was caught between two men—two husbands—in the wildest situation Lila could ever have imagined. But what she wasn’t imagining were the two men touching her, pleasing her, caressing her…

Purchase from Carina Press


  1. Alice Audrey

    Ah, yes. We did the road trip thing with a toddler just beginning to learn to walk. It was a very sad trip, even with lots of extra stops.

  2. Jenyfer Matthews

    LOL – I have flown the world with my kids, but I am happy to say that we’ve only done a couple of road trips with them and everything you say is true.

    The only truly potentially bad moment we had on the road was when my son, then about 3, announced he really really needed the bathroom as we were solidly stuck in a traffic jam somewhere between NJ and NY. My husband handed him an empty water bottle and told him to have at it. My son thought that was the best trick ever!

  3. Robin L. Rotham

    LOL! Wow, can I ever relate. There’s no such thing as a good snack for toddlers on a car trip. And I noticed the same thing about Ohio rest areas.

    Congratulations on the release, BTW!

    (Good idea, Shelley, getting someone else to do your TT. I’ll have to try that…)

  4. Anthony North

    I remember those days well :-)

  5. Shelley Munro

    Jenyfer – just as well it wasn’t your daughter. I don’t think the water bottle would have worked quite as well.

    Robin – good idea, huh? :mrgreen:

    Anthony – good days????

  6. Hazel

    no. 10 – pure awe!

    Thanks for no. 4

  7. Hazel

    No. 10 is pure awe, and thanks for tip no. 4

  8. Adelle Laudan

    Love the banana comment. I can remember that one for sure lol I always found music playing helped. It’s been awhile since I had a wee one in a car. Best of luck to you lol
    Happy T13!

  9. colleen

    I don’t remember long car trips when my sons were toddlers but as they got older we took them and I remember planning stops so they periodically and let them run across a big lawn.

  10. Liz Fichera

    We take a lot of trips with my sister’s family and her two young kids. Whenever we go to a restaurant, it’s always an adventure. :eek: You never quite know what they’re going to say or do, so we always try to hit the “family friendly” restaurants.

  11. Shash

    This is a great list!! I’d love to use it on my travel blog, would you like to guest post it over on http://canada-travel-worldwide.com/

    let me know :-)

    Happy TT

    Shasher’s Life: 13 of my Nicknames

  12. Brenda ND

    Oh, I remember these car trips, the raisins and the kid songs. Good post!

  13. Toni Anderson

    LOL–great list!! I remember feeding my daughter and her throwing a whole jar of baby food over me at a rest stop midway on our journey 6 hour. Pretty sure it was the one and only time I wipped off my shirt in a car park on the M6. I had pulverised carrots dripping out of my hair for 200 miles.

    And I also remember singing Old MacDoald’s farm for 5 solid hours. We had everything on that damn farm :)

  14. Tatiana Caldwell

    Heh heh, good list and quite accurate. Our trick has been to not take any car trips that are longer than 5 hours and have lots of kid friendly music (think of a CD with Old McDonald on it instead of you having to go hoarse trying to repeatedly sound like a horse).

    And handheld games work wonders, too for savvy toddlers.

  15. Kathleen

    I guess road trip shenanigans are pretty universal :) After I hit send I thought… she’s got a worldwide audience, maybe I shouldn’t have said “our nation” – awfully US-centric of me. Sorry about that, y’all. It sounds like the M6 is my I95, though!

    Handheld games – the iTouch saved the trip, I swear. When a gadget is simple enough for a two year old, it’s well designed.

    Wearing carrots – rofl! I moved to the backseat at one point (supervising the iTouch usage), and that’s how I discovered he didn’t actually finish the banana. I wish I’d discovered that with something besides my rear end. The nice thing about car trips is that your clean clothes are nearby instead of the underbelly of a plane.

    Thanks for the kind words, everyone, I’m off to click on everyone else’s TT!

  16. Elise Logan

    A few suggestions gleaned from car trips from Virginia to Florida with Munchkin in tow.

    1. We carried a mesh cube of Munchkin toys that we set next to her in the car. She spent as much time rummaging in the cube deciding what she wanted to play with as she did playing.

    2. Cheerios and freeze dried stuff. Freeze dried stuff available here: http://www.justtomatoes.com/

    3. Chick-fil-A. Every stand alone one (i.e., not in a mall) has an indoor play area. Every single one.

    4. Gas stations. When you stop to fill up, do whatever you need to do, then take 5 or 10 minutes to run the kidlet around. Literally. We picked something – a tree, a bush, a rock in the parking lot, whatever – and made it a race course. Okay, run around the tree 5 times. Now the other way. Now hop around the tree 3 times. Now walk backwards around the tree 4 times. You get the idea. Same thing works at rest stops.

    5. This CD. http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/robbieschaefer

    A kid CD that doesn’t make the adults want to hurl. More precious than gold.

    Hope that helps.

  17. Ann Bruce

    Ah, I take it there’s no DVD player in the back of vehicle?

  18. Inez Kelley

    I read and quite enjoyed Her Hearts Divide.

    The best traveling companion any mother can have is a portable DVD. I love ours.

  19. jehara

    I remember family road trips. I am pretty sure I was the annoying one always asking if we were there yet.

  20. Jill Conyers

    Great list. As a mom of 2 thanks for the laugh :)

  21. Janet

    So cute :-)

  22. Jennifer Leeland

    Here’s one. Baby puke/spit up NEVER EVER comes out of a baby seat. Oh, you can clean it, bleach it, tear it apart and clean EVERY INCH and it will still stink.
    Also? Music you play when they’re little may influence them later. (Hence my sons love for Ozzie Osbourne, Gretchen Wilson and Eminem.)

  23. Melissa Johnson

    Funny post, Kathleen.

    I did have what happened to Jenyfer/her son happen to me and my daughter. We were in line trying to exit Manhattan thru the Holland Tunnel for 45 min already when she announced she had to pee.

    You would not believe how hard it is to convince an already pottytrained 3 yr old to pee in her pants. She finally did though, and when we got home, another 45 min later, I washed the carseat cover.

    It was worth it–especially seeing how there are always plenty of raisins and bananas to wash off too ;-)

  24. mary

    My daughter is 19 now but there were so many funny things that happened on road trips with her. One time when she was being potty trained we knew we were going to be in the car for a while and she put on a pull up…but she forgot to take her big girl underwear off first and she was so mad that her big girl underwear got wet too. lol

    Another time when my daughter was about 6 years old, she said she had to go to the bathroom and there weren’t any restrooms where we were hiking out at red Rock, so we told her to squat behind a bush and do her business. She did but then came back and told us there was a yellow butterfly by the bush and she thinks she got him wet….We went and looked and it turned out to be a Bark Scorpion that she pee’d on…omg..

  25. Heather

    My advice for traveling with a toddler? Um…don’t. :grin: Seriously, my youngest niece (now 5) has always been a good traveler. Of course, having an ipod loaded with kid songs and a portable DVD player do help.

  26. Darla

    Nicely written! Thank you for sharing.

  27. Rekaya

    I don’t have any toddler stories, but I loved yours. Happy Trails!

  28. Janice Seagraves

    We did a few car trips when my daughter was very young.

    The best thing we ever took with us, besides a laundry basket full of toys, was a potty. And yes I mean that kind. If your a parent you know what I mean. :)

    Happy TT.

  29. Kristen

    This list brought back so many memories! You have not traveled, though, until you travel with four little boys, 5, 3, 1 and 1 and all of them develop the stomach flu somewhere between San Fransisco and Phoenix. The are very few places to stop. McDonald’s becomes your friend (for bathrooms and napkins) and your worst enemy (don’t ask about it).

  30. Melissa Johnson

    @Kristen–I know someone who had twins for kid “3”. Wow. (Similar age spread too. Though she has three boys and one of the twins is a girl.)

  31. Stephanie Bennett

    Oh wow … this post brings back so many good memories of road trips with my two boys. They’re 13 and 9 now, and I still enjoy it just as much as when they were preschoolers. :grin: Happy Thursday!

  32. Sasha Devlin

    LOL Awesome! I have no tips to help you, but I do remember a terrible incident involving a banana, my Cabbage Patch Kid, and my 5 yr old self.

  33. Kathleen

    Jennifer L: We play a lot of Paul Simon, Rasputina (heavy metal cellists) and the Eagles to try to ward off the kid music demons.

    Melissa: OMG, I remember needing to pee as soon as Dad was trapped in the Holland tunnel from summer trips to visit my aunts. Thanks for the memory job… not ;)

    Mary: :eek: /faints

  34. Kathleen

    Sasha: Now I want to know…. ;)

  35. Gattina

    The only thing I remember was the border between Austria and Italy and the custom guy asked : “Anything to declare ?” and at that very moment our toddler throw up tomato juice through the open window ! The men jumped aside and made us a sign to continue ! :grin: