If you want to go right to the Raddish Kids discount code, click here. (There are two discount codes ATHOME gives you $15 off a 6-month subscription and Chef20 gives you $20 off a 12-month subscription).
Raddish Kids Review: A Monthly Kid’s Kitchen Subscription Box
Historically, I have never been that interested in ordering subscription boxes for myself – or my kids. But then the COVID-19 shut down forced me to think differently about everything I do, especially went it involves how I parent.
Suddenly, my children’s preschool was canceled, my husband began working from home, and not only did I not have childcare so that I could work, but overnight I became a homeschooling mom as well￼￼. God, I suck at homeschooling. In many ways, this feels like the most defining moment of my world as a parent. I kind of feel like I suck all the time in the parenthood department. I keep thinking, how do I fix this?
I think many working moms in my position are in the same dilemma. What do we do with our kids now that they are home – all the time? Fortunately, there are resources out there for parents like me. So long as we find them and utilize them. I, for one, have always needed help in the cooking department.
Also, I have a two and 4-year-old, one of which is a particularly picky eater. S eats better when she as at school, and now that she’s at home she is a particularly challenging eater. Until one day, I tried this cool monthly subscription – perfect for homeschool teaching.
What is the Raddish Kids subscription box?
A small box is delivered monthly with all the tools you need to teach your kids to cook.
Radish Kids is a cooking club for kids – a monthly culinary cooking opportunity delivered to our doorstep. It has nurtured our kid’s confidence (and mine!) in the kitchen. The photo above is the first box we ever received from the subscription. It has helped us have delicious cooking experiences from different cultures that I would never have been able to give my kids on my own. It is designed for kids from ages 4 to 14, but that hasn’t stopped my two-year-old from joining in on the kitchen fun.
This small box is delivered with everything needed to help turn my children into little chefs￼. I talked with them about it a week before it arrived, so they were so excited when it was finally shipped to our doorstep.￼
What comes in the Raddish Kid subscription box?
Here is a photo of everything that came inside the box – all of the recipes, grocery list items, fun games for the kids, and even their own whisk (with instructions for use)!
But the best part is that each box is delivered with a new children’s cooking utensil so they can start building a little kitchen of their own￼. I also love that this delivery subscription comes with unique games that help get my kids excited to cook. My daughter is in the process of learning her letters.
What a better way to fortify her learning than with fun food games! I can teach her about math, with a measuring cup, and teach her about different cultures as well. She is learning (as am I) that the kitchen is a great place to learn from home. But most importantly, she is feeling confident in the kitchen!
Games make learning to cook more fun for kids.
The Raddish Kids subscription comes with fun games.
It allows us to make new memories and brings our whole family together in the kitchen and at the table.
It is a cooking class delivered to our doorstep each month.
It is helping me be a better cook for my kids.
It gives me a chance to teach math and science, all while helping my kids discover new cultures. They want to learn because they like the food they make.
Each recipe card comes with a grocery list.
I usually set everything out and assign jobs when we cook together.
This is actually from the first night meal we ever prepared together- Pad Thai Noodles! I got it all set up before I brought my kids into the kitchen. I got all of the ingredients set up￼ , so when they came to the kitchen, I could just tell them what their jobs would be.
My kids got to learn about salty and savory foods (Soy sauce), sour foods (lime), sweet foods (brown sugar), and spicy food (chiles). My daughter was able to adjust the Pad Thai to taste by adding drops of soy sauce to a bite and testing it. There were also detailed instructions on how to use a whisk properly. It has been a great cooking skill that my daughter used when we make eggs in the morning.
How to help a picky toddler try new foods:
She was very proud of her new whisk skills.
My daughter is what you would call an extremely picky eater. I have to serve her something several times sometimes before I can get her to try something new. And she is very particular that nothing on her plate is touching anything else. We’ve gotten in the habit of catering to her in that area, which is 100% our fault – because now getting her to try new foods is very hard.￼￼ We are working on that!
The Thai pad dish was a good one to start with￼ because there are several different ingredients mix into a single bowl. My goal with this particular meal was to have her mix everything together, so she would be more open to eating it, especially if she was proud that she prepared the meal herself.
Even my two-year-old has fun with this (but it does get messy!)
Here is my 2-year-old wishing the brown sugar, soy sauce, and lime mix. The instructions were clear for kids to learn how to mix the sauce:
“Wrap your dominant hand around the handle.
Point your whisk to the center of your bowl.
Rotate your wrist to make a circle. Keep your elbow still.”
But my son is two, so I let him do it however he wanted. But my 4 -year-old was able to follow those directions clearly. I was just happy that they w both able to participate. (The instructions have a “skill check” for kids who are old enough: “What is the difference between whisking and stirring? What would happen if you stirred eggs with a spoon instead of a whisk? What great questions for kids who are learning how to whisk eggs for the first time.)
I taught my daughter how to crack an egg.
Here I am teaching my 4-year-old daughter how to crack an egg for the first time. Usually, she would think this kind of task was “gross,” but because it was attached to an outcome, she was more than eager to achieve a positive result! She loved it and was so proud of herself. After each egg, she yelled out to her, Dad, “I just cracked an egg!!”
I love that I can help her build her self esteem and teach her how to prepare foods that she eats every day at home (even if there are a few eggshells I have to dig out!).
Proud to learn how to crack an egg.
I got the noodles ready ahead of time so the kids could focus on preparing and cutting the vegetables for our Pad Thai dinner. All while Oliver continued to whisk the sauce – for about 10 minutes. This was also an excellent opportunity to teach our kids about handwashing when they prepared food. One of the best ways for us to make this habit stick is to have step stools in the kitchen. Otherwise, it makes it almost impossible for us to expect them to get in the habit of washing their hands independently.
We have two stepstools in the kitchen (for each kid to help us with cooking), and at least one in each bathroom, so they can wash their hands on their own. They know to wash their hands for 20 seconds every time they use the bathroom, and every time they prepare food.
Here his how the Raddish Kids monthly subscription works:
Per the company website:
“Raddish is a cooking club, culinary lesson, and mealtime solution all-in-one. We make cooking and sharing a meal fun for the whole family! Young children work alongside an adult, while older kids and teens indulge their culinary curiosity! And it’s perfect for picky eaters — kids who cook, eat! A new kit is delivered to your doorstep every month. Each kit features a unique culinary theme! We also email you a shopping list prior to delivery. “
And then you start cooking!
There is no doubt that the kitchen is the tastiest place to learn. My kids have been able to develop new cooking skills and confidence in the kitchen while our family builds memories together. There is no better way to teach kids at home than that.
Here is how to order your Raddish Kids subscription box:
If you are interested in trying out Raddish Kids, here is a code for you! Remember that there are two discount codes: ATHOME gives you $15 off a 6-month subscription and Chef20 gives you $20 off a 12-month subscription). Additional recommended reading:
During the COVID-19 shut down in California, I found myself looking for more creative outlets at home. I’m not sure if it was the fact that I suddenly had to home school my two and 4-year old children, or I had been suppressing the urge to start coloring, but I found myself doodling in my daughter’s anatomy coloring books almost as frequently as she was.
I first discovered anatomy coloring books as a nursing student many years ago. At the time, I was overwhelmed with the sheer amount of information I was expected to memorize. I wasn’t sure why, but putting markers on paper helped me remember the anatomy and physiology better than anything else could.
I later learned that coloring the body and its systems is the most effective way to study the structure and functions of human anatomy according to research.
Here I am now, in the middle of a global pandemic, and I’m coloring again. My point is that coloring isn’t just for kids. I think coloring with a crayon or marker should be considered a relaxation or stress-relieving technique. I am surprised that I am just figuring that out now.
A great anatomy coloring book has every body system
• The Integumentary System
• The Skeletal System
• The Muscular System
• The Nervous System
• The Endocrine System
• The Circulatory System
• The Lymphatic System
• The Digestive System
• The Respiratory System
• The Urinary System
• The Reproductive System
By coloring each of the body systems, you can learn how the systems affect and work with one another.
Benefits of coloring
Reduces stress and anxiety – coloring helps to relax the brain, in a similar way that meditation can. In fact, coloring can be a type of meditation in itself. When you color, it forces you to be still and quiet, which can help generate mindfulness – especially after a stressful day of work, school, or parenting.
Improve focus – Coloring requires attention and allows you to live in the moment.
Improve sleep – Coloring is always better than looking at blue-light electronics like cell-phones; it also much better than browsing through social media, which can cause more stress and keep you awake at night.
Coloring a kidney will help you understand its anatomy and function.
This fun mix of coloring book and instructional guide demystifies anatomy for the yoga enthusiast! This book is great for yoga teachers learning anatomy used in all different yoga poses.
The creator of The Yoga Anatomy Coloring Book is a yoga instructor, licensed massage therapist, and anatomy teacher Kelly. The workbook provides an entertaining and informative journey through the human body, focusing on the bones, joints, and muscles used in yoga.
After an overview of helpful terms, Kelly covers the skeletal system, joints, and connective tissue, followed by the muscular system. Each anatomical feature is illustrated with a beautiful black-and-white drawing of a yoga posture, or asana, to color.
Coloring the bones and muscles, and their names, will help you to remember their location and function, and 32 perforated flashcards enable readers to quiz themselves and study yoga anatomy on the go.
This anatomy coloring book features detailed illustrations of the body’s anatomical systems. Plus, Color Guides on every 2-page spread offer instructions for best coloring results so you can study effectively. The Amazon description states this coloring book has:
More than 450 detailed, realistic medical illustrations, including microscopic views of cells and tissues
Exclusive perforated, flashcard-format illustrations of 96 muscle structures to color and study on-the-go
Clear, descriptive overview on the page opposite each picture, with key learning terms in boldface
Self-quizzing for each illustration, with convenient same-page answer keys
Full coverage of the major body systems, plus physiological information on cells, tissues, muscles, and development
The Human Body Coloring Book takes an interactive approach to human anatomy that will help users learn, understand, and revisit the subject with ease.
Drawing on an unparalleled library of state-of-the-art specialist anatomical illustrations, The Human Body Coloring Book is structured system by system for ease of use, with comprehensive coverage of the human body from cell to system.
The Human Body Coloring Book is a unique study aid that provides students with an innovative approach to learning. At the same time, the opportunity to self-test maximizes the ability to recall knowledge.
Another great book that helps with a concise understanding of anatomy.
The Anatomy Coloring Workbook includes:
• 126 coloring plates with precise, easy-to-follow renderings of anatomical structures
• Comprehensive explanations of the pictured structures and anatomical concepts
• An introductory section on terminology to get you started and coloring suggestions to assist you
• A glossary of standard anatomical terms
• New injury & ailment appendices, with additional memorization techniques
This Student’s Self-Test Coloring Book includes hundreds of anatomically accurate line illustrations to help you learn the human body.
Coloring the anatomy systems helps you learn the shape and location of each body part, making it easier to visualize, retain the information. In addition to clear explanations and instructive content, it features
New to this edition: Clinical points text boxes to illustrate the medical significance of the structure
144 two-color pages that lie flat for easy coloring.
16 new pages of text
Extra-heavy paper that minimizes show-through
Includes every body system and part
All parts labeled with correct anatomical names
Any of the anatomy coloring books on this list are very detailed and helpful for learning. Or, if you just need a coloring outlet to relieve stress that also allows you to learn something new, any of these works perfectly.
*This post is sponsored by the American Cleaning Institute to help parents understand how important it is to practice laundry safety, including properly storing and handling laundry packets. You can find our disclosure pagehere.
Children are so naturally curious
In the early baby days, I knew if I walked away for a few minutes that my babies would be in the exact spot I left them. Therefore, the urgency to child-proof every nook and cranny in our home wasn’t there…yet. After all, they were completely immobile for almost the first year of life!
But with each new, curious day comes another baby milestone (or so it seemed).
First, it’s the rollover (so exciting!). Then baby develops an army crawl. And, before you know it, they pull themselves up to a stand.
Then, boom, you have your very own baby-walking machine! A little unstable, but a baby on the move nonetheless. All the while putting anything and everything they come in contact with into their mouths.
As exciting and adorable as it is to watch, it is also the time those curious minds can do their wobbly, little Frankenstein walk and come into contact with substances that they should not touch – such as household cleaning supplies…
So, in case you didn’t already know: now is the time to make sure your house is 100% baby-proofed! No excuses!
Safety first, always
As an emergency room nurse, I have witnessed first-hand plenty of accidents involving children that could have been prevented- including the ingestion of household items. It only takes a second for those tiny, delicate hands to get into trouble when a home isn’t properly child-proofed.
But I get it, I’m a mom too – parenthood can be overwhelmingly busy and I also sometimes feel I’m being run over by a tiny human army I created myself (and I usually am!).
It is so easy to forget to child-proof your home when you have 1,000 things on your to-do list. But if you take a few simple steps and have systems in place that will prevent accidents from happening, then it will make your life so much easier in the long run. Especially if something bad happens that could have easily been prevented.
Babies and children of all ages need safe spaces to move around and learn in safe environments. Many accidents that bring our little ones to the emergency room can be prevented and avoided altogether.
So in honor ofEmergency Nurses Week in October and my desire to encourage other parents to take an active stance in child-proofing their homes, my #1 safety message this year is to encourage parents to put their Packets UP!
Don’t forget to child proof the laundry room
The laundry room is one of those places in the home that is the last to be childproofed, if it even gets child-proofed at all.
That’s why I’ve partnered up with the American Cleaning Institute to help parents understand how important it is to practice laundry safety, including properly storing and handling liquid laundry packets. Accidents involving liquid laundry packets are 100% preventable!
I’m talking about taking simple steps to keep the laundry room safe at all times. By putting a few simple systems in place, you won’t have to worry about accidental poisoning and you will be proactively preventing avoidable child injuries.
Think of it like this: Playtime + child-proofed home = SAFE SPACE for baby and child growth and learning opportunities!
(The ER nurse in me geeks out about safety-proofing. You should see our home – even my husband has a hard time getting into closets and drawers. But at least I know our kids are safe!).
Keep the laundry room safe by keeping your packets up!
Simple child safety tips in the laundry room
Step #1: Keep liquid laundry packets out of reach
Keep all laundry products in a designated out of reach and in an area that children can’t get into.
If you don’t have a cabinet with doors to hide your cleaning products available, place liquid laundry packets (in the original packaging) into a larger bin with other laundry and household products and put it up high where children won’t be able to see it.
Step #2: Don’t keep laundry packets on display
While clear or glass jars can be an Instagram-worthy way to display household items, storing liquid laundry packets visibly in these jars could attract unwanted attention from young children. Always keep liquid laundry packets tightly secured in their original packaging, stored up and out of reach.
Step #3: Keep laundry packets separate from groceries
When purchasing laundry packets and other household cleaners from the store, have them bagged separately and put them away in their designated safe storage spot – out of sight and out of reach – as soon as you get home and unpack your groceries.
Step #4: Make safety checks a priority
Conduct routine safety checks in the home to prevent accidents.
Tip: Consider making a sign in the laundry room to remind yourself to check your laundry packets and make sure they are stored properly and out of children’s reach. That way use can ensure safety each time you do the laundry. If you have a housekeeper or someone else who does the laundry, have a conversation with them about how important it is that they also follow your laundry room safety rules. All adults in the house need to be on the same page.
If a liquid laundry packet is ingested:
Call the Poison Help Line immediately at 1-800-222-1212.
I hope this messaging can help parents understand how important it is to practice laundry safety, including properly storing and handling laundry packets. Safety is the number one message here, and I hope this helps to encourage and remind all parents to find simple ways to keep all laundry products up and away from little ones in the home.
Let’s have ZERO accidental laundry product accidents this and every year. Safety first!!
Remember these key laundry packet safety points:
It is so important to store liquid laundry packets up high and out of sight and reach.
Don’t forget to completely close and seal liquid laundry packet containers after use.
Finally, always store liquid laundry packets in their original containers.
For more information about the Packets Up campaign:
Visitpacketsup.com for more information and tools to help you prevent exposures from liquid laundry packets. You can also join the conversation: follow #PacketsUp for the latest laundry room safety tips and information.
( *Post updated 3/9/2020. There are affiliate links in this post. You can see my disclosure page here.)
Who knew that a crib tent would give our family the gift of sleep (and sanity)? I purchased our crib tent 16 months ago, and it has since become my #1 most important toddler purchase, ever.
Just to give a little background: our daughter was never a good sleeper (sweet as pie, but hated going to sleep). As a result, delirium due to a lack of sleep became a “normal” part of our family’s daily routine.
So, when our daughter was ten months old, I hired a sleep trainer. Her methods were a success, and we all finally started sleeping again!
But then, after nearly six consecutive months of almost uninterrupted slumber, the unimaginable happened. Our toddler, Zoe, learned how to climb out of her crib!
Our toddler’s “crib jumping” was a problem.
Once again, we were all losing sleep. My toddlers daredevil escapes seriously concerned me because:
It was unsafe. Our tiny toddler could seriously injure herself by falling several feet or getting stuck between the slats.
I did not want her wandering alone through the house at night. Again, a significant safety issue.
My husband and I were not going to get a good night’s sleep until we found a solution we were comfortable with. We were all sleep-deprived but also experiencing daily stress from this new problem.
Sleep is important.
Sleep is so crucial for both physical and mental health.
According to The National Sleep Foundation, lack of sleep is linked to hypertension, heart disease, depression, diabetes, and several other chronic diseases.
The National Sleep Foundation also states that sleep is especially crucial for children because it is when blood supply to the muscles is increased, energy is restored, tissue growth and repair occur, and important hormones are released for growth and development.
We looked at several alternatives.
After getting over the shock of my daughter’s uncanny ability to scale the crib, we tried several things to deter her.
We took out the bottom of the crib, so the mattress was on the floor to make her escape more difficult. That stopped her from climbing out for exactly one night, and then she was back at it again.
We took everything out of her crib so she couldn’t use it as a prop to climb out. This method didn’t stop her either.
We watched our toddler climb out of her crib on a monitor so we could see exactly how she was doing it. She made it look so easy! She held on to the top bar and put her feet in between the crib slates, hoisting herself to the top, then she teetered on the top bar and balanced until she could get both feet over the sides and jump to the floor. Usually, with a big SPLAT.
A toddler bed was not yet an option.
I scored the internet for more suggestions and solutions. A toddler bed was out of the question because our toddler would not stay in her bed (or room for that matter) for more than 1 minute.
Inevitably, we would end up having a little visitor in bed with us every night for the foreseeable future (or worse, roaming the house!).
My priority for our daughter was safety. I didn’t want her to get hurt while climbing out of her crib, but I also didn’t want her wandering around the house in the middle of the night either. And frankly, we ALL needed to get some sleep!
I read a ton of reviews on this crib tent, and it sounded like people were having a lot of success without having any safety issues. From my personal experience, these are the reasons this crib tent has been a gift from the sleep Gods.
Our toddler could no longer get stuck between the rails (which previously happened several times!).
Our toddler was unable to grip the sides of the railing, which prevented her from scaling the crib walls.
The material is made from BPA-free mesh netting and is hypoallergenic.
The crib tent fits snugly over the crib, and our toddler couldn’t get stuck in the crib netting. The bottom of the crib tent sits under the mattress.
It was super easy and fast to set up. No extra tools were required.
We ALL finally got the sleep we needed and finally felt refreshed again during the day.
What is the best way to help your toddler prepare for a new sibling?
One of the many things that I worried about when I was pregnant with our second child was how our 2-year-old daughter, Zoe, would react to having a new baby in the house.
Actually, if I’m being honest, it was my NUMBER ONE concern.
Would she feel jealous? Left out? Completely traumatized by this new ginormous life change?
After our new baby boy was born our daughter was very affectionate and loving towards him. Now that he is 4 months old, she can’t stop giving him hugs and kisses at least 5 times a day. It melts my heart every time.
But this new fondness for her baby brother didn’t come without a few hiccups along the way.
Now looking back with my 20/20 vision I know she acted out a little. Not directly towards him, but in her own not-so-subtle “I’m throwing a tantrum but I just want a little more attention” way.
There was about a 4 week period where she was throwing significantly larger-then-normal temper tantrums after our newborn boy was born. In fact, they were darn-right gnarly at times. I remember thinking “where did my sweet child go?”
Since then she has adjusted quite well. But it has been a learning experience for all of us! We have learned so much about our first born since the arrival of our new baby.
10 Simple Ways To Help Your Toddler Prepare For A New Sibling
10 simple ways to help your toddler prepare for a new sibling:
#1. Talk about it with them frequently.
Don’t surprise your toddler by bringing in another tiny human behind their back. One of the best ways to help your toddler prepare for a new sibling is to start talking about it with them. Start the talking at least as soon as you tell family and friends about your pregnancy. Your toddler will need time to process this information about the upcoming change.
#2. Explain the role of big sister (or brother).
We reminded Zoe daily that she was going to have a lot of new responsibilities when “baby brother” arrived. It was important to us that Zoe see that she would have a very important role as big sister so that she didn’t think she was being left behind. For example, when she played with her puzzles we reminded her that she would need to teach her little brother how to play with puzzles also.
Also, explain that your toddler will need to “look out” for their new sibling, and how special the role of big brother or sister will be. They will enjoy hearing about how the baby will want to try and do everything they do!
#3. Give them their own “baby” to practice with.
When I was about 5 months pregnant my mom bought Zoe a baby doll. Our goal was to try and teach her how to be “gentle” with the baby. She actually took to it quite well and enjoyed playing with it. When ever we talked about the new baby coming we would say “where is Zoe’s baby?” She was able to have her own “baby” to practice with and she loved it. Now that her little brother is 4 months old, she still enjoys playing with her baby in her crib at night.
#4. Give your toddler books about becoming a big sister or brother.
We gave our daughter 2 new books about becoming a big sister and read them to her almost daily. She loved pointing to the Mom’s belly and saying “baby in there!” Having pictures to look at really helped her process the idea of having a younger sibling.
In addition, reading the big sister books gave us a regular reminder to continue talking about and including our toddler in conversations about the new baby.
#5. Give them a gift from the new baby.
Right after our son was born, we gave our toddler a new picnic set that was a “gift” from her little brother. When she played with it we talked to her about how she could have a picnic with her little brother soon. Our newborn also “gave” our daughter a new “I’m a big sister” shirt (in purple, her favorite color!). She felt like a million bucks.
This one was so important to us since there is a lot of attention put on a new baby. We didn’t want our daughter to feel left out of the excitement or hold resentment towards him. Our goal was to keep our attention equally on her as much as we could.
Here are 10 simple ways to help your toddler prepare for a new sibling!
#6. Talk about how much fun it will be.
My husband did a great job of talking to our two-year-old about how “fun” and “cool” being a big sister will be. He really embellished on the fact that he would learn so much from her and look up to her. Even now when we try and teach Zoe a new life lesson we talk about how she needs to be a good role model form her little brother. She just loves it!
#7. Praise your toddler for being the best big sister EVER.
For the last few months of my pregnancy my husband and I would ask our daughter “who is going to be the big best big sister ever?” Every time she would excitedly reply “Zoe!”
#8. Stay calm during meltdowns.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a mother it is that my child reacts to how I act. Melt downs are inevitable. It an unfortunate, but completely normal part of toddler hood. However, if I become upset then it only upsets my daughter worse.
I learned this lesson the hard way after taking several road trips with my toddler. Having an additional child in the home only makes things more stressful and easier to lose it when one kid is getting crazy.
#9. Give them a little extra attention and love.
During the last few weeks of my pregnancy I made sure to spend a little extra time in the evenings preparing for bed with my daughter. We would spend 15-20 minutes reading books and then turn the lights off for another 15 minutes of “snuggle time.” There is no better way to help prepare your toddler for a new sibling then by showering them with a lot of extra love.
#10. Practice gratitude.
This one never fails. Gratitude helps me handle difficult situations with more grace. At the end of the day I am so grateful to have two beautiful, healthy children. Even if it means months of newborn baby exhaustion, a messy house, and total craziness for a while! Since it was my second and last pregnancy, I knew I wasn’t going to get this experience ever again. So I wanted to enjoy it while it lasted!
Are you the parent of a toddler who is expecting a new baby soon? Are you doing anything to try an ease the transition for your toddler? I would love to hear so please leave a comment with your thoughts!
(This post may contain affiliate links. My disclosure page is really boring but you can find it here.)
We have had a lot of driving experience with our toddler on long road trips over the past year-and-a half. Our closest family members live in Sacramento which, with a toddler in tow, is about an eight hour drive from our LA beach community. We have pretty much been-there-done-that with every single tip ever mentioned on how to make road tripping easier when you’re toting a toddler along.
Having made that lengthy drive over a half dozen times you would think we would be experts at toddler travel by now. After all, how many learning opportunities does one need to figure that out?
Yet, road tripping with our toddler remains a constant learning experience for us. This week was no exception as our family trekked eight hours from El Segundo to Tomales Bay located on the Northern California Pacific Coast for a well-needed vacation.
Stinton Beach, CA (population 578). The best part of taking road trips is stopping at new locations along the way that you never would have seen otherwise. Zoe was happy for the opportunity to run around for a while.
As I have some depth of experience in the road-trip-with-a-toddler department, I thought for sure I would use my expertise to make this excursion particularly easy. After all, I have read about all the tricks by now: travel during baby sleep times, pack for every situation (terrible advice, boo!), make frequent stops at parks, bring lots of toys, be sure to have baggies/wipes/finger foods, yada yada yada.
My confidence had me dreaming of writing a post after our trip titled “how I mastered long-distance travel with a toddler without going crazy” or “how we helped our daughter love long distance road trips, and you can too.”
A Mom can dream, right?
Yet, once again I realized mid-way up the coast that traveling with a toddler can be messy, frustrating, and even intolerable even with the most thoughtful preparation and experience.
Toddlers are going through their very own developmental stages.
Toddler’s little bodies are immature and aren’t supposed to “sit still” for any amount of time, much less an eight hour car ride. In addition, they have under-developed communication skills to express their needs, which can lead to complete toddler meltdown on the highway (or anywhere for that matter).
This got me to thinking…
Is the key to mastering long distance travel with a toddler really just about understanding where they are in their current developmental stage? Is my job to better understand my toddler as a little, evolving human being? Do I need to adjust my expectations a little? Hmmm, maybe.
I continued to learn, even during this trip, that part of mastering toddler travel is about learning how to be a little more malleable with our daughter. Especially when she is acting exactly like, well, a toddler.
There are going to be meltdowns in between all the adorable, precious, little girl moments. That is how toddlers express themselves when they are upset and don’t have the vocabulary to communicate their frustrations. In addition, they are programmed to push their boundaries and it is our job as parents to learn how to productively handle each situation as we go along.
Tomales Bay, Ca. The long drive was totally worth the vacation. We got to hike almost everyday. If you look closely to John’s right you can see a line of large adult seals!
The final drive back home: something amazing happened!
On our last day we planned on getting up at 5am to start the dreadful trek back down the I-5 to Los Angeles County (not the amazing part). We wanted to get the drive out of the way as soon as possible. But, like many aspects of parenthood, things didn’t exactly start as we had anticipated.
Our (normally) great little sleeper decided she wanted to get up at 2:30am instead. After about 45 minutes of tears (I guess she was ready to go home?), my husband and I decided it would be better to just go ahead and start our travels. So we got ready and left by 3:30am instead.
You are probably wondering what the amazing part is, right? Well, I’m excited to say that Zoe did wonderfully and was content pretty much the entire way home! There were minimal tears and we only had to stop twice during the entire trip. It was a road trip miracle!
With a little help from Mom and Dad, she really handled the drive like a champ. And because we left so early in the morning we were home by noon. It is possible that I actually mastered the art of road tripping with a toddler after all?
Well, I’m not so sure about that. But I do think we made great progress. We did learn a few more things during this drive home.
Helpful Ideas For Long Distance Road Tripping With A Toddler:
To be clear, these tips may not be for everyone. Every toddler, and every trip, can be a different experience. These are just a few suggestions that worked for us. Here are my best ideas for surviving long distance road travel with a toddler in tow.
1. Travel during sleep times
This one is the big winner! If you can drive at night or at least during a long nap time it is so helpful. A sleeping toddler is a content toddler. One of the reasons I think our recent road trip went so well is that our toddler was able to sleep for about 3.5 hours during the start of our trip (we did leave at 3:30am after all). That got a large portion of our drive time out of the way right off the bat.
2. Don’t over pack
This was everything we packed for one week of travel. I made an exception for my yoga mat and I’m so glad I did. I used it almost everyday (there are some things you just have to make an exception for!).
I hear all the time that “when you have kids you have to bring so much stuff everywhere!” I emphatically disagree with this one. Packing light is so much easier and can actually make a trip less hectic and stressful: there is less stuff to pack/repack, take care of, store, and its feels so much better to not feel like you are carrying around your house.
Many things that get packed “just in case” never even get used and just end up getting hauled around pointlessly. You don’t have to schlep everything from home. See if the hotel can offer a crib. Buy food for the kitchenette when you get there. When packing ask yourself “is this something I really need on this vacation?”
I brought just enough clothes for myself and our daughter with the intention of doing a load of laundry at the hotel if necessary (it wasn’t). We also brought an umbrella stroller instead of the larger one we normally use.
Traveling is just easier with less stuff. It’s true that Zoe could possibly need her winter boots and coat. It can be on the cooler side on the northern California Pacific coast. But in August? Not likely that she will need them.
3. Have one adult sit in the back if possible
I sit in the back with Zoe during most of the drive (I stay in the front when she is sleeping). That way we can spend a little one-on-one time together and I can try to help sooth her before she starts to have a meltdown. I have gotten in the habit of making space for myself and whatever I think I may need in the back seat for the drive.
4. Sing and talk frequently
Did you know that a new study shows that babies’ pain levels are actually decreased when they are sung to? A London University found that children waiting for surgeries actually had a reduction in pain and heart rate after being sung lullabies.
Road trips are not actually painful, of course. But I have found that Zoe will pay close attention to my every word when I sing to her. She listens intently, quietly. It’s like I’m doing something amazing, and I’m a terrible singer! I’m probably driving my husband nuts but our kid seems to be enjoying it, so why the heck not?
Our toddler gets the benefit of learning new songs and staying engaged during the drive. I think it makes her happy too. To boot, it minimizes screaming child road rage so I see this as a win-win for everyone.
5. Keep a calm voice (especially during a meltdown).
My husband and I have found that the more calm we are when Zoe is upset, the less upset she gets and the better she is able to deal with her frustration. Our kids learn how to handle stressful situations by how we handle them.
Dr Sears, parenting expert, says that “an angry parent often leads to and even angrier child.” Being in an angry state clouds your thinking and can leave everyone feeling a bit abused. A temper tantrum from us won’t make the drive easier and it will make it more miserable.
I try to think of ways to get our daughter to laugh when I can see she is getting frustrated. Right now she is really into making noises with her mouth, and she thinks its so funny when Mom or Dad makes funny noises with her. Laughter can really be the best medicine for an angry child.
6. If all else fails, bring two sets of ear plugs and do the best you can. Or just pull over and find a neighborhood park.
We found this park on our way back from Muir Woods during our trip. Zoe met a new friend and we got an opportunity to explore a new, small beach community.
Seriously, if all else fails and the crying seams endless, nothing beats a good pair of earplugs. I’m not saying that you should ignore your child by any means! You can still hear everything and you can continue to help sooth your child. It just helps a little until you can get your bearings again (and helps minimize a pounding headache).
Or if you reach a point where you just can’t take it for another second, just pull over and find a park or a long stretch of grass. There have been a ton of studies that show that being in green grass can relieve stress and make you feel better. Getting out for some fresh air and a little nature will do everybody a little good.
I realize that not every drive will as good as our most recent one, but I do think we are on to something good here. Practice makes perfect, so I guess we will just have to plan another road trip soon!
Southern California is such a great place to live partly because there are so many amazing places we can vacation to via highway. Since our family will soon be expanding even more (we’ve got a baby boy on the way!) we have to adjust our vacation plans to accommodate our little nomads.
Next on our road trip travel list: The Grand Canyon!!
Sarah, Mother Nurse Love
Psst! Toddler backpack carriers are so great to have on an active vacation. Check out theses super cool ones!