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WHEN GETTING BACK IN THE SADDLE
REQUIRES A LITTLE PUSH:
What I Did to Get My Kid Back on The Horse
Where She Belongs

When do you force a kid to keep at an extra-curricular activity she hates?

I draw the line at quitting team sports mid-seaon (their team depends on them) or activities my kids insisted upon but want to quit two classes into a costly contract.

Otherwise, I’m never too bothered when they don’t want to pursue an extra-curric.

Less driving for Mama. It’s a win all-around.

But a funny thing happened last year when Diddy started riding lessons, and then changed her mind.

I kinda lost my shit.

To say I was ridiculously excited when Diddy, then 5, suggested riding lessons would be an understatement of massive proportions.

You see, when I was 5, my aunt took me for my first riding lessons and I never looked back.

First horse I ever rode: paint pony named Dexter. Love at first sight.

First horse I ever rode: paint pony named Dexter.
Love at first sight.

I rode every week — sometimes twice or three times — for years, throughout elementary and middle school.

When I was 12, my parents bought me a horse for the family ranch in Colorado, and I took him to summer camp with me. When I started boarding school, I even brought him there.

I think it's pretty clear why I spent most of my high school years hanging out with my horse.

I think it’s pretty clear why I spent most of my high school years hanging out with my horse.

When I graduated college, my father offered me a Rolex as a gift. I asked for a membership to the Chelsea Pier riding club instead.

Whoops. Within a year, the club folded. Plus I moved to LA.

Every now and then I long for the watch.

In LA, I rode another of our ranch horses for a year or so, then I upgraded to a paint I bought from Marta Kaufman, who created Friends. I add this detail only because at the time it seemed VERY Hollywood and was the closest to a writing career I got for another ten years.

I never even met the woman. Horse was sweet, though.

My second paint: Johnny Tremaine.

My second paint: Johnny Tremaine.

When he went lame, I gave him to a lovely couple in Colorado who adored him.

Then I bought the BEST MOST BEAUTIFUL TALENTED SWEET AND CHARMING PAINT QUARTER-HORSE EVER.

Paint #3: Nelson, love of my horsey life.

Paint #3: Nelson, love of my horsey life.

He died. He was 4 years old. It was soul-crushing. I ate a lot of Entenmann’s doughnuts.

Following several months of tracking Nelson’s blood-relatives up and down the California coast, hoping to find another horse with his all-round amazing EVERYTHING, I bought a crazy, enormous, super-green Hanoverian. She was a lovely mover, but nuts. The horse ran off with me one afternoon, and thank god I have some cowboy in me because I managed to stick it, sans reins and stirrups.

I was pregnant with Diddy at the time. I sold crazy-pants pretty fast.

I haven’t really been on a horse since.

Fast-forward to Diddy asking for riding lessons.

I couldn’t dial the phone fast enough. I called a small barn in Atwater that taught traditional hunter-jumper on tiny Iranian horses perfectly scaled to Diddy’s size.

We went for the first lesson. Diddy was thrilled to groom and help tack her horse.

Then she got in the saddle.

Proud Mommy moment. Truly.

Proud Mommy moment. Truly.

I thought I’d jump out of my chair.

SHE LOOKED AMAZING. Shoulders, hips, heels. I couldn’t believe it. It looked like she’d been BORN on that horse.

And she was having a great time.

I was ecstatic. Diddy is not an athletic child. At soccer, Diddy opted to sit on the sidelines and pick grass. Gaga was doing the monkey bars years before Diddy managed it. Diddy gets cranky walking more than three blocks.

But this – this was a sport that might suit her. First off, it’s a solo activity, not a team activity, and Diddy’s not a team-sport kid. It’s physical, a full cardio and strength training regimen, and it comes with the added benefits of personal responsibility expectations of caring for horse, tack and stable.

Add to that what Gaga’s preschool teacher once said about girls and horses:

Horses keep girls away from boys until they’re at least sixteen.

Sold.

And so was Diddy.

Till she was thrown from the saddle at Lesson #2.

For this, I blame the barn. She was being led from the stalls to the arena in the saddle, and the horse spooked at the sound of another horse kicking out in a turn-out paddock and Diddy fell. A beginning rider, she should never have mounted until she was in the arena.

Hindsight.

At the time, I told her what I was told when I fell off a horse in Kenya, age 7 or so. My parent’s friend, whose ranch we were visiting, bucked me up with this piece of advice I apply to basically every single thing I’ve ever done my entire life:

You’re not a true rider till you’ve fallen 7 times.

I was a pretty gung-ho rider by then, so it worked for me. I got back on the horse.

So did Diddy.

She finished her second lesson.

But when we arrived the following week, she wouldn’t get back on.

I can now admit to this being the most difficult parenting situation I have ever been in. My kid was afraid, or she felt defeated. Whatever it was, she was not getting back on that horse. She was happy to groom and tack, but there was nothing I could do to get her back in the saddle.

And I was DESPONDENT. Not just because I so much wanted her to love to ride, the way I love to ride, but because she was, weirdly enough, and way more than I’d ever been, A NATURAL.

My kid was throwing away an opportunity to be great at something that she was MEANT FOR.

Oh my god it took everything in me to not get in her face about it. There was no team depending on her. I was only paying for lessons one at a time. Conversely, if she loved the sport, the costs would only rise, and rise, and rise.

I literally had no justification to force her to continue.

I spent sleepless nights. Truly.

Then, this summer, something crazy happened.

Diddy told me she’d been climbing in the corral with the horses we still keep at the ranch.

Then she asked if she could ride them.

I gave her a good long scare about hanging out in the corral with the horses without adult supervision and then I practically ran to the barn to tack up a horse for her.

CHK diddy horse meeker

Diddy climbed into the saddle and her whole body lined up like she’d been training for that moment all year.

Back in LA

Diddy asked for lessons, then changed her mind again. I couldn’t stop thinking about how she’d looked in Colorado, though, so this time I nagged and bribed her till she said yes.

Bad mommy. I am not proud.

But it worked. Last week we went out to a barn in Burbank, where she could ride Western, like she had in Colorado.

They assigned her a paint pony.

This is the part where I got a little … cough … religious (it was Kol Nidre – coincidence?) and started asking the Universe to help me out here.

A paint pony? I mean, come on. If she didn’t fall in love with this paint pony I was going to go throw myself in front of hay baler or something.

We met her trainer, and Diddy and her trainer led the pony to the ring.

Diddy got on.

Then her trainer un-clipped the lead line.

I wondered if Diddy would notice. Every time she’d ridden before (all of six times) she had INSISTED on being led.

But my little natural didn’t say a word. She rode forward. She stopped. She rode circles. She practiced posting at the walk. All without once asking for help from her trainer. When her trainer said she was going to teach Diddy “Around the World,” Diddy said, “I know how to do that,” and showed her.

I took a million photos.

This one’s the money shot.

Paint perfection.

Paint perfection.

Shoulders. Hips. Heels.

Holy moly.

Diddy wants more lessons.

I’m with her. I want back in the saddle, too.







I'm Just Looking for Some Grown-Ups to Talk To ...

HOW TO LOVE, STORE, AND DISPLAY YOUR KID’S ART
Without Letting it Take Over Every Available Surface in Your Home

CHK love kids art

My kids love to make art.

Diddy’s friends call her “the Artist” because she spends all of her “choice time” at school using smelly markers and Sharpies (note to self: stay vigilant against future huffing issues). Gaga has proven herself to have remarkable motor skills, and a great sense of color that her teachers never fail to mention, plus she’s not afraid to get messy, so a lot of her work is paint-based. Sausage asks for markers the moment he’s done eating breakfast and Pancake, well … Pancake mostly draws on his face.

Still: this all equals a LOT of kid art coming into and cluttering up our home. Stacks of it. And I am over it.

Here’s what I suggest doing to corral all the kid art, and get it under control.

It’s a multi-pronged approach, as any good battle-plan must be. And believe me, when you’re up against kid art, you really are fighting a war. Me, I play to win. Here’s how:

  • Be brutal.

It’s not ALL worth keeping. It’s really not. Toss, toss, toss. I learned this from a friend of mine, who also has four children, and is my GURU MAMA because her youngest is the same age as my oldest, so she’s gone though all of my particular challenges before. When we were first friends, I watched her throwing out art her kid had made in her pre-school class WHILE just down the hall from her classroom. She literally ducked into the school office and started tossing things.

    • Her #1 Rule? THROW OUT EVERYTHING 3D. (I photograph it before I toss it, if I think it’s any good. See below!)
    • Here’s another trick for weeding the good/important stuff from the bad/inane stuff: leave it on the kitchen table, or some other very available surface, for 48 hours. If no one comes to claim it, throw it out, they’ll never miss it.  Promise.
    • Or send it to the grandparents. They seem to care less about kid art clutter, and if you have your kids write a note on the back, even better – it’s a letter!
    • Date the good stuff. Seriously: artist and month/year goes in the corner of every piece. If you’re bothering to keep it, you’re gonna want to know when your kid made that masterpiece.

 

  • Scan or photograph all the good stuff.

CHK 3d art collage (1) (1)

Diddy (2008)

    • Before I throw out the truly special 3D art that GURU MAMA completely disdains, I take a photo of it against a white wall.
    • Everything else I either scan on my Canon flatbed printer, or with my Fujitsu ScanSnap (BEST BUY EVER, SERIOUSLY!).
CHK paint and glitter scan (1)

Gaga, paint & glitter on brown paper bags. (2011)

    • All this scanning and photographing will go a long way to honing your sense of what’s good/worth keeping/worth scanning/worth photographing and organizing, and what ain’t. You will get more brutal all the time.
    • You can also use all sorts of handy iPhone and Droid apps to do this for you. Not my thing, but if you’re looking for a simple solution, it’s not the worst idea, either. They are easy to Google up — but as I haven’t used any of them, I can’t really recommend one above the others, myself.
    • Once you’ve got it all photographed or scanned:  Toss! Toss! Toss! And toss again!  Really. Go for it. You don’t need it, short of those pieces that are so great you think they are worthy of display / long-term archiving (see below).

 

  • Display the TRULY GREAT STUFF.

    • Pick a place in your home that can serve as a real art gallery for your kids’ work. Right now, the kids’ art mostly lives in their rooms or in MrBigIdeas and my offices. But we’re gearing up to transform the ENTIRE kids’ hallway into a gallery of their best work.
On the Beach x2. Diddy (2010), Gaga (2012)

On the Beach x2. Diddy (2010), Gaga (2012)

    •  You don’t have to shell out a ton of money to frame your kid’s art. You have a lot of options for display – Pinterest is a great font of inspiration. I’ve even made a board for that. Clothespins, painter’s tape, sticky corners. At the kids’ school, they use these Ikea curtain hangers. We went with Lil Davinci Art frames because they make the kids’ art look neat and tidy on the wall, not to mention STUNNINGLY GORGEOUS. Even better, they open from the front, and can accommodate 50 pieces each – if some better piece comes along, you just pop it in the frame on top of the last piece. Love them. (Now if I could only find the time to get them up on the wall!)
    • Or you can head over to CanvasOnDemand and order awesome CANVASES of your kid’s art! Use this code for 65% off, while you’re at it: D7ABTGS98U4VSBF

 

  • Create museum catalogs for your kids using photo book services.

CHK photo books

    • I did this for the holidays last year – corralled all the art my kids had EVER made, scanned and photographed the good stuff, then uploaded it all to Shutterfly and created a 12×12 hardback book out of it, organized chronologically by kid. Then I sent that book to all the relatives. Best gift they have ever gotten – reviews were over the moon. And honestly, I was thrilled with the results. Edited and presented that way, the kids’ art was amazing. Themes and personal styles emerged. My kids are thrilled with it, too. That is definitely going to be a yearly thing around here from now on.

 

  • Archive the truly SPECIAL pieces – things like hand print molds, or Thanksgiving turkey hands – that you don’t want to display but still want to save for your children long-term.

CHK art files

    •  I do this using file storage boxes. Each kid has their own box, and each box has inside it a hanging file for each year of school from pre-school through 12th grade. Things like pre-K graduation certificates and hand-print molds get filed in these boxes. I’m also putting holiday cards from the kids’ closest friends in their boxes this year – I think it might be neat for them to see pictures of what their early friends looked like when they’re more grown up. (This filebox idea came from The Happiness Project, by the way. It’s chockful of good ideas like this.)

Have more great kid-art-containment ideas? Share them in comments below, or post them to the FB page. I’d love to see what you’ve got!







I'm Just Looking for Some Grown-Ups to Talk To ...

(NEARLY) PAINLESS DENTISTRY
With Brighter.com

So, a funny thing happened after I had the twins.

Life got a little busy and I kinda …

Forgot to go to the dentist. FOR TWO YEARS.

Here’s how that happens (and this is where I shift into 2nd person because it really is way less embarrassing if I universalize it out to all of you):

You have twins. (Or any young kids, really.)

Your dentist sends you a reminder card that you’re due for an appointment.

You put the appointment card down somewhere – anywhere – and it is immediately covered up by the detritus of family living: magazines, junk mail, diaper bags, you name it.

You eventually un-earth the reminder card, probably under some sort of “we’re having guests” emergency cleaning.

You think, “I need to call them and book an appointment.”

Every time you try to pick up the phone a kid starts screaming / crying / asking for something like food or water.

So, umm. You don’t make the call.

Then one day you FINALLY get it together to call the dentist, you finally manage to book an appointment after a lot of back-and-forth-ing over the phone, you finally DRIVE TO THAT APPOINTMENT …

And  that’s when you discover your dentist has MOVED since you last visited.

You hustle yourself around Google Mapping the neighborhood looking for the new office. You find it! You congratulate yourself on keeping your phone charged (small miracles) and you thank the Google Gods for maybe the billionth time this week.

You are a champion! You have made it to the dentist!

You ask the tech you’ve known for years how long they’ve been in the new offices, and she says, “Two years.”

While you’re busy processing that shock, she follows up with, “Wow, your teeth are a mess. You need to come back in here every 6 weeks until we get you back on track.”

You think, I am never ever telling ANYONE this story.

Then one day you learn about a brilliant new service that would have saved you SO MUCH TIME, ENERGY, and umm, TSURIS. (It’s Rosh Hashanah around here, I’ll be slinging Yiddish around like mad for days.)

I’m talking about:

Brighter.com

Brighter.com is essentially the OpenTable.com of dentistry. Here’s what Brighter.com lets you do:

  •  Locate dentists by zip code

CHK Brighter search

 

  • Check prices for basic services dentist-to-dentist (prices have been bulk-negotiated by Brighter.com, so that you’re getting a competitive price for service — I don’t know about you, but I ain’t got no dental insurance so this a pretty great thing)

CHK Dentist Fee schedule

  • Check out reviews via yelp.com

AND THEN – and this is the holy grail of this whole service people:

  • BOOK DENTIST APPOINTMENTS ONLINE.

CHK Brighter online booking

 

They had me at “book your appointment online.”

As in, hey, I just got a reminder card from my dentist! You know what I’m gonna do? Pop open my browser and my calendar and book that appointment RIGHT NOW without having to schedule a call around my screaming/crying/hungry/thirsty kids!

ANGELS SING, PEOPLE.

ANGELS WITH SPARKLING ANGEL TEETH SING.

I honestly was so enthused by this online booking feature I was kinda willing to ditch my dentist for a dentist closer to my home who just might have beat him to the 21st century and signed up with the service.

But it turned out my dentist was already a Brighter.com dentist, and his pricing seemed pretty reasonable compared to his peers, so I booked myself for my ZILLIONTH follow-up to my TWO YEAR TEETH problems in about ten seconds – you have to create a quickie account, but it’s super easy-peasy – and then next thing I knew I had an email confirming my appointment in my Gmail.

I’m a huge fan of the site so far. The only downside I can see is that at the moment, it only serves the LA market. If you don’t live here, do yourself a favor and email them and tell them you want Brighter.com in your neighborhood, too.

Now if only my gynecologist would offer this kind of service, I’d be covered teeth to …

 

This is a sponsored post. Brighter.com covered the cost of my appointment in return for my writing about the service. Working with sponsors on an ad hoc basis allows me to provide you with what I hope is entertaining and useful content year-round. Rest assured, I NEVER write about products, services, or brands that I don’t love and believe my readers will love, too. 







I'm Just Looking for Some Grown-Ups to Talk To ...

BACK TO SCHOOL
(Back to Reality)

CHK Back to School

Diddy started 1st grade this week.

HALLELUJAH!

But also:

Who are all these other American school children who agreed to pose for “first day of school” photos? Diddy certainly would not not not.

I had to sneak up on her and snap her before she looked up even to get this one:

CHK 201308 Eva 1st day 1st grade

Apparently she had better things to do. Like get to 1st grade. And her best friend. And the teacher she wished for all summer long and wouldn’t stop talking about. (Another hallelujah there, by the way.)

Good for her. And good for me, too.  I am so so so so ready for the kids to be in school. Why yes, this year ALL FOUR OF MY KIDS WILL BE IN SCHOOL.

YEE-HAW! And can I get an AMEN!

But not for another two weeks. Gaga and her brothers don’t start school till the second week of September and it can’t come fast enough. Summer was great. It really was. But summer is now over in our neck of the woods, and real life is back, and let me tell you:

Re-entry has kicked my ass.

It’s not easy to come home from a big ranch where your kids can run around with their cousins in the great outdoors and your parents are doing the large majority of the shopping and cooking and come home to … UMM. My house. Where I have to do all those things. Plus work. To say I have been a tiny bit cranky since we got back to LA would be an understatement. There’s just so much to do to get all the kids ready for school it’s kind of mind-boggling. The school clothes. The haircuts. The classroom supplies. The emergency bags (this being LA – earthquakes – and the kids’ school being at a synagogue – crazies, terrorists – each kid has to bring an emergency bag at the start of the new year). Plus, uh – the decluttering. It’s a sickness.

At the start of each school year I just compulsively believe that I have to do BETTER.

I can’t help it. I have to feel the house is cleaner and more organized and more ready to hum like a finely oiled machine. So I’ve been shedding and re-configuring and re-imagining like crazy. More accurately, like a crazy person. I am a crazy person. In the week I’ve been home:

  • I’ve decluttered all three kids’ closets. I’m particularly thrilled by the boys’ closet:

CHK closet

  • I’ve re-done our entryway to better accommodate the fact that four kids will be bringing school bags in and out of the house. (Ok to be fair, I hardly did that on my own. We had friends over on Saturday night to swim and bbq and the wife happened to mention she likes to build Ikea furniture. She is nuts. I love her. She and I built that CB2 cabinet while our husbands grilled chicken. I wonder how she feels about Elfa installs … hmmm …)

CHK entryway

And the piece de restistance:

  • I’ve created a homework and art-supply station in the cabinet by the front door.

CHK cabinet collage

Starting this week, we’re on a no-weekday-TV plan as Diddy supposedly has homework now that she’s in 1st grade. (She’s thrilled about this, by the way.) So I made her a homework box so she could do her assignments at the dining room table in the afternoons, and I made one for each of the other kids, too, so they could stay busy in what used to be TV time.

CHK homework box

What’s inside:

Pencils, markers, highlighters, tape, glue, scissors, a ruler, a stapler, a pencil sharpener, a small dry erase board for figuring out math problems (I grabbed that idea off of Pinterest), and a notebook for scrap paper and drafting purposes.

The boys’ boxes have significantly less in them. Pencils, crayons, paper, tape. Just enough so that they can feel involved.

And I bought a ton of new art supplies for the same purpose, and figure I can now just look at the weekend calendar and set the kids to their “homework” of making birthday cards and decorating wrapping paper and writing thank you notes in a more timely fashion than our norm.

I am weirdly thrilled and excited to see what my kids will create with their homework boxes. Told you I’m a crazy person.







I'm Just Looking for Some Grown-Ups to Talk To ...

HOW I LEARNED TO LOVE FAMILY ROAD TRIPS
Even With 4 Kids and A Dog.

CHK road trip

Every summer we drive from LA to my happy place in Colorado – and back.

I love my happy place. I spend the entire year thinking about getting back there in the summer, and as of this summer I think I have successfully brainwashed three of the four kids into feeling EXACTLY the same way.

My mom took this photo. She's on Instagram. I'm on Instagram, too!

My mom took this photo.

Want more proof of our family yee-haw? Head over to Instagram. It’s pretty palpable over there.

But back to LOGISTICS:

You know what I love almost as much I love Colorado?

I love the GETTING THERE.

And I love the GETTING BACK.

Yep. Even with four kids and a dog I have to schlep 900+ miles  back and forth each summer, I dig the schlepping.

Here’s why:

WE DON’T FLY.

  • Part of that is cost. Flying four kids and all our baggage ANYWHERE is just insane. Renting the inevitable minivan on the other end is ridiculously expensive too.
  •  But the other part is necessity: airlines won’t take fly dogs in cargo during much of the summer, because the cargo hold gets too hot. So to bring our dog with us to my happy place – and it would be criminal to not bring my city dog to a RANCH IN THE MOUNTAINS, for god’s sake – we just have to drive.

Luckily, that’s cool with me, cuz:

We see amazing things on the road.

Piece from the Painted Desert series by Chip Thomas. Seeing his new work throughout Navajo country in AZ each year is a major highlight of our trip!

Piece from the Painted Desert series by Chip Thomas.
Seeing his new work throughout Navajo country in AZ each year is a major highlight of our trip!

 

  • We nearly hit a moose once, heading into the Grand Canyon.
  • One summer we drove about 60 miles alongside a small tornado heading into Flagstaff.
  • Monument Valley is pretty stunning. 
  • And how about Sedona? I mean, come on. SEDONA is mind-blowing-ly rad.

 

So yeah, driving long distances is pretty fabulous.

Even with the kids.

Especially with kids.

CHK boys in cars

(Again: go check out my Instagram. It’s easy: click the photo!)

 

Anyway:

Here’s how we’ve lived-and-learned to DO ROAD TRIPS RIGHT:

We plan our itinerary in 300 mile increments – or less.

  • Once upon a time we drove 1000-mile days hopped up on NoDoze and giant Slurpees. Those days are behind us, mostly because it’s criminal to give that shit to your kids.
  • Also, turns out 300 miles is the perfect amount of distance to cover each day that still allows wiggle room for actually HAVING FUN on the road. 300 miles gives you time to stop for meals in wonky little towns – even if that’s a banana-split lunch in a tiny town in nowhere Utah where nothing else is open on Sunday (been there, done that). Driving 300 miles or less gives you time to check out local attractions, too.  Like a dinosaur museum. Or the Osh Kosh Bgosh outlet. (Seriously, MrBigIdeas is OBSESSED.)

We get our car serviced the week before we go.

  • My car likes to freak me out with little “maintenance required” lights all year round. Apparently Toyota and MrBigIdeas have different … ideas … about what maintenance is actually REALLY required, and when …. but every summer when we’re about to hit the road even MrB agrees it’s not worth making me crazy wondering about those lights when we’re in the middle of nowhere.
  • So before we hit the road we do oil, fluids, tires. The whole shebang. Mama’s happy. We’re all happy.

We separate our “road luggage” from our “destination luggage.”

  • When we travel by car, I separate our luggage by “road items” and “destination items.” Road items include pack-n-plays, dog food, snack & breakfast items, car entertainment and snacks, and whatever clothes we need for the actual DAYS ON THE ROAD. Those clothes are sorted into DAILY OUTFITS, which I just fold together, shirts over pants over underpants and socks. Some people baggie them, which is cool, too.
  • Road items get to live in the trunk of the minivan, and are loaded in and out of motel rooms each evening.
  • Destination items – additional boxes of diapers, swim clothes, sports paraphernalia, clothes we don’t need on the road — live in the TRULY ENORMOUS Yakima SkyBox on the top of the car, which remains locked and untouched until we get from home start to destination finish line.

We FINALLY invested in a cargo box.

  • Yes, you can pack your car to the gills with all the stuff you’re dragging on the road with you – but it’s not that comfortable for everyone to have bags under their feet, and you end up blocking your rear-view mirror, and if you are particularly over-stuffed you may just end up breaking your minivan liftgate the first time you ever try dragging four kids and a dog and three adults on a three-day trip into a market where Toyota literally has ZERO dealers within a 350-mile radius.
  • Or you can learn from your tragic and expensive mistake that first time out and buy a great carbox like the Yakima SkyBox we finally bought this year. And then the dog will actually have space to spread out and not breathe her doggy breath in your face while she’s forcibly spread across your lap … you get the picture. Get one of these. Then lock everything you don’t need while you’re on the road in that thing and forget about it until you get to your final destination. Angels sing, people. Angels sing.

If you’re traveling with a dog:

  • Get her groomed the night before you leave. (See “car breath” etc. above.)

We curate in-car entertainment.

  • In car, we go with magazines, music, and snacks snack snacks snacks snacks snacks snacks. Like, constant snacks. Z-bars, bags of nuts, something sweet for the afternoons. Fruit. Basically, snack time is a great driving-activity. It just is. Don’t forget your trash bags. And here’s a GREAT idea for keeping water at the ready, too, over on my Pinterest boards.
  • We don’t do screen time in the car. There is a lot to see out the windows. Really, truly. That’s what we all did, right? My kids are under the impression that our minivan video system only works for trips LONGER than 300 miles, and that you have to get a special access code at a gas station to turn them on. (Yes. Fine. Sometimes I lie my tail off.)I’m not saying there is NEVER a time for those video screens – endless, horrible traffic jams call for videos. They absolutely do. But the rest of the time, if we choose your route to take us to-and-through interesting places, we tell our kids to LOOK OUT THE WINDOW already.
  • Oh and, with the screens off, the chances of your kids actually napping go WAAAAAYYY up. Naps mean no kicking, screaming, whining. Yay naps!

We never enter restaurants without notebooks and pens.

  • Before each trip I hit Target for notebooks and Crayola washable marker sets for each kid. They live in my purse and we use them at meals and in hotel rooms to keep the kids quiet-ish.
  • (Oh hell, who am I kidding? In hotel rooms we ditch the no-screens rule and turn the TV on for the kids THE. WHOLE. TIME.)

CHK hotels with kids

  • Oh and, in restaurants with a billion kids? Beer helps. Believe you me.

CHK restaurants with 4 kids

We gas up every time we hit half-a-tank.

  • This is good practice year-round, but especially on the road, when you’re not sure if the next gas station is 75 or 200 miles from the last one. Plus, stopping to gas up means you have more opportunities for bathroom breaks and for tossing the trash you’ve collected since the last stop. And for coming up with your in car screen “license” should you really need it  …

 

Want more insight into how we road trip? We’re hitting the road again Monday morning and I’ll be Instagramming the whole thing … hint. Hint. Hint.







I'm Just Looking for Some Grown-Ups to Talk To ...

Sarah Kate Levy

Once upon a time I wanted to be a novelist in NY. FOUR KIDS LATER I'm a
screenwriter in LA who blogs about parenting, partnering, and the decline of civilization / my home.

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Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

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