We are moving! Well, right now, I'm not. Right now it's 10:30 at night and I've just checked into a hotel and am trying to chill out with one child asleep and another watching Treehouse. I've also got one seriously traumatized kitty (after he did something he very much did not want to do in his travel kennel and it took us awhile to get to him to get cleaned up) and another who seems to be doing pretty good, sniffing the corners of the room. There is also a man, munching down some curry and talking back to Go Diego Go (which is why he is not normally allowed to watch children's programs). It's peaceful, in an odd way, and I'm glad to not actually be in motion for awhile.
The drive today was relatively short, just a few hours in the car, with a ferry ride in between jaunts, but long enough that I got to try out my 'Surprise Bag' system for Happy Traveling Children. The idea came about from the discussion in the comments from this post last year, when contemplating a mere 8 hour car ride (ha, we thought that was rough!) We've got two whole days of travel coming up, so I'm pleased my Surprise Bag test run today went pretty well well.
The Surprise Bags are just ziploc bags filled with a few items and an enticing snack, dispersed every hour or two along the car ride (depending how everyone is feeling). I called them Surprise Bags for our Rolling Party to try to set a mood of adventure and fun, rather than the usual, "Oh, crap, not another looooong car ride!" I get from the kids.
Today the kids ended up with two bags each, one shortly after we left home after the whole day of waiting around while their parents frantically got rid of most of their belongings (again), cleaned and settled up with the landlords. Plus the hundred and one little stops around town (mailing one package to our new home - roller skates, in case you are curious) and dropping off our modem, etc. It's all so tedious for me, I can't imagine how it feels to a five year old.
Anyway, I just wanted to share some of the items in the Surprise Bags:
a) a familiar book, a new character toy, and a little bag of animal crackers
b) a new book, a handheld mirror (seriously great idea), and some pretzels
c) some yarn for finger knitting (or just tangling for Birdie), a notepad and pencil, and a soy milk drink
d) kazoo, colouring page and a couple of crayons and, some corn crisps
e) a favorite toy, a little puzzle or wind-up toy, and a few small cookies
f) stickers, binoculars, and gum
And so on. I have enough items for 15 bags for each child: little action figures, slimy insects, lacing boards, and all sorts of fodder for imaginations. Since most of the new books and toys actually come from the thrift store, each one no more than 10 cents (I find the novelty is the payoff for most toys, new or second hand, so as long as it's new to the child, where I get it from doesn't matter), it was surprisingly inexpensive. I have the bags all separated and coordinated, so that each child gets an individualized to taste and age Surprise, but similar in activity to the other child.
At the end of the day, all the toys and clutter are picked up and squirreled away to be recycled into another Surprise Bag the next day or later or at least stashed out of the way so that the the morning begins fresh, without the feeling of being overwhelmed and hedged in with stuff all around. I plan to let them get good and bored before I even bring out the first bag tomorrow. All the better to help them appreciate the small things as they come.
Hope your morning is filled with fun and yummy surprises too :)