Well, we’ve had a good few days at the beach. Everyone’s tanned and well sanded. Time to head home. Here are few ideas to make the trip home a little easier, if you are driving. Sorry, nothing makes it easier today when you are flying.
How to have a smoother drive home
- DONATE–Drop-off the old towels, sheet(s), beach toys that will just be clutter at home, unwanted swimsuits or rash shirts or beach bags and any other stuff you don’t want to haul home.
- TOSS–When the kids are asleep ruthlessly prune the shell collections down to under 50 lbs–you know what I mean here. Ditto that plastic cup with the crab on it or the Dollar Store fedora. Anything that can be trashed needs to be trashed now.
- WASH–If there’s a washer and drier where you are staying, do the laundry, fold and pack in trash bags to stay clean on the trip home. One less chore when you get home.
- RESTOCK–Fill the cooler(s) with ice, normally forbidden drinks (Capri Sun? Expensive Jones Sodas? Starbucks bottled drinks?) and lots of water bottles Put in seedless grapes, little carrots, mini peppers and cheese sticks.
- HIDE–Hide some surprises for everyone. Download some brand new music on a teen’s phone, bring out the awful t.v.tie-in beach book (preferably with stickers), download some new games to your phones (just pay for extra data if you aren’t WiFi enabled on the road–it’s worth it for sanity). There’s even an app for the License Plate Game and many, many other travel-related games for all ages.
- PLAN–Check the State Highway Patrol or DOT websites for new road construction or detours. Plan a pit stop for just before so you don’t have to pull over and find bushes.
- SEATING–Everyone is tired and tired of being together. If the only way to have peace is for Mom or Dad to ride in the back then suck it up and do it.
- SLEEP–Encourage sleep. New cheap fleece throws will help. Take pillows in the car.
- GRAZE–It’s a road trip. Ignore the quality of the food choices. Food pacifies them. Have junk food and, yes, even candy. Hand it out from time-to-time, but mix in a few carrots and grapes too. No, you can’t have Ranch–it’s the car.
- SCREEN–It’s ok to suffocate under a blanket or inside a hoodie to watch a movie or text or whatever. Screen time on the trip home is to be encouraged.
- WHITE NOISE–If the driver won’t fall asleep, instrumental music is a good choice. Something calm and soothing.
- MODEL–Set the example. Say Thank You to your kids for the great time at the beach even if its thru clenched teeth. If they see the effort it will help. Hand out souvenir t-shirts to wear on the ride home and don’t say a word if your teen won’t be caught dead in one. They’ll wear it. Just not when they’ll look like the Partridge Family in them.
- DIVERT–Let anything you can just “go,” but do plan diversion tactics with your spouse so you don’t go insane. If you are a single parent–you’ll desperately need these.
- Example: “He’s touching me…” You both start singing as loudly as possible “The Old Rugged Cross” or “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” or “Jimmy Crack Corn”–something that will embarrass them to silence.
- “This Sucks” or “I’m Bored” or “Are We There Yet” Toss a popsickle stick with a chore on it to the offender. Make sure the deadline is “After you pee, but before you do anything else when we get home” and be prepared to enforce it.
- Stop and switch seats (if possible) about every 90 minutes.
- If it gets too awful, put on Opera. Opera will bring them to their knees.
Turn them loose, get those who “earned” a chore started and then force yourself and your spouse to unpack the car and get the suitcases, trash bags of clean clothes and whatever to the correct bedroom. Empty and air the cooler. Put away perishables. Then, it’s Miller time. Relax. Let them unwind. Put those asleep straight into bed. Show Grace on a sleeping child who has earned a chore!
The Day After
Thank you notes must be written if Grandma and Grandpa paid for the trip or if you stayed with friends or relatives or………[you know who these might need to go to]. Here are some nice cards and stationary you can use or make.
Good manners dictates that EVERYONE writes a thank you note. A few weeks ago I posted here about how happy a real letter can make people–a real Thank You note (not an email or a text) is the same. It makes people happy. It also teaches gratitude. Maybe your visited some cute gift shop with locally produced note cards and bought some. Maybe you like to make your own cards or stationary. Pinterest has more card designs than you could make in a life-time. These are just a few suggestions.
Anyone over about the fifth grade can just plain suck it up and write one! Yes, they can also take the time to hand write it neatly, to appropriately decorate the paper (or choose an appropriate blank note card).
Here’s a wonderful way to share your trip, express yourself and give a very thoughtful thank you–draw or watercolor your own postcard. Maybe you took these on your Nature Day at the beach–Grandma and Grandpa would be thrilled to receive one.
Here’s a cute little kit for kids to use.
While the notes are being written the little ones can play this cute free printable matching game. (Remember: If you like the game, leave a compliment for the blogger who made it).
Once the notes are done, encourage, but do not force, getting the shell collection or the drift wood collection sorted and contained. Have a little messy crafting time. Don’t hover but be available. Help them use the field guides–yes, there are apps for that but, show them the books, too. Strew some other books on your coffee table or wherever it is they all gather to watch tv or use the computer or wherever they hang out You can get them from the library before hand but don’t let them see them. Or splurge and order a couple. Now is the time! But resist the urge to make it school-ish. If they don’t want to, don’t show disappointment, just go on with your own craft or book or look at your own shells. Model. It helps.
Ask your teens if they’ll help get the photo book started or help with making some memory piece like a shadow box. Again, don’t force. They may have their own plans for a memory item–or may not care to do that. Offer to buy reasonably priced supplies. Put up with reasonable mess.
Then find patience, life will go back to normal, vacation harmony (I hope you had it) will fade, normal squabbles will resume, but there will be “Remember that time at the beach….” all the rest of your days.