During the past year, car rides with my son have been some of the most stressful times. Right from the start, TJ was never the baby who would sleep in the car. (I envy you Mamas and Dadas who have that situation!) I use to plan car rides around when he should be napping so that he would have a better chance of sleeping instead of his usual….SCREAMING!!!
Now, I know that I am not alone when I say that one of the most stressful experiences is trying to drive when your baby or toddler will not stop crying. (Thank you God for protecting us and helping us avoid getting into any accidents.) Even before we knew of his allergies, car rides were not a favorite pastime for TJ. In fact, I cringed with the thought of even just running a “quick errand.”
Then, November 2014 came and I went back to work after being off for six months of maternity leave. Our morning and afternoon commutes to work and daycare became 40-60 minutes long EACH WAY! Now, TJ wasn’t the only one screaming! It honestly brought out my crazy…
After TJ’s anaphylactic reaction to yogurt, I definitely experienced some post traumatic stress. I was fearful of EVERYTHING! Every time he cried, fussed, or was not himself, I worried that he was having another allergic reaction even when no food was involved. Even though I knew my fears were irrational, I could not stop them.
The problem with car rides was that he fussed 99% of time already even before food allergies entered the scene…(okay, maybe 85% of the time.) Now, I was even more crazed on these daily rides.
Then, it happened! He had a minor reaction due to his skin sensitivities in the car in January 2015. (Read that story here.) Thus, I became even more overwhelmed…
Car rides became rides of great anxiety for me, for us. I was constantly checking on him and he was now getting himself so aggravated that he was scratching his eczema and making himself bleed.
I needed to change it and bring back my sanity. So that is just what we did. Together, TJ and I worked to create our very own “bag of tricks” for commutes. What works one day may not work the next. However, for the most part, we can find a “trick” or two or TEN each day.
“BAG OF CAR TRICKS”
- TALKING: I always start the commutes with talking about the events of the day. Some days it is just my voice (if I remain calm) that will calm my son.
- PRAYING: After debriefing, we pray. We pray for all of our family, friends, for each other, for TJ’s health and safety at day care, for guidance on all of life’s decisions, and for a safe and calm car ride.
- RADIO: Some days we listen and sing along to the Christian radio station in our area. Regardless, I keep this station on just to calm my nerves. Ha! Either way our local station has truly saved many car rides.
- DISNEY CD: A friend gave us this amazing music CD back when TJ was first born and honestly, I don’t know what I would do without it. Sometimes, after I drop him off at day care, I forget that the CD is still on and find myself singing the lyrics to myself. Ha!
- LITTLE PEOPLE TOYS/ MINI ELMO: These little people are amazing! Because TJ keeps one or two in his hands, he very rarely scratches at his eczema anymore. Sure they get thrown and cause some drama sometimes; however, their benefits outweigh those other moments. Fisher-Price’s Little People
- SNACKS/SIPPY CUPS: While it does not always work, sometimes leaving his sippy cup or a favorite snack like puffs for the car rides works wonders. Other times, it causes the need for a huge clean up afterwards.
- BUDDY AND PALS: It is no longer just my son and I on car rides. Buddy and about two of his other pals that TJ picks out before getting into the car usually join us. By allowing him to chose them, he is less fussy when being put into the car initially.
- WORD AND LEARNING GAME: Now that my son is 18 months old, he likes to play games like “pointing to body parts” or “repeat the word or sound after me.” We have always sang the ABCs on all car rides adding an additional part with words beginning with each letter.
- SEARCH FOR AIRPLANES, TREES AND THE SKY: Since he loves to look at airplanes, it is a perfect game to play when it is sunny and clear out.
- REMAIN CALM: Trust me I am living proof that it is easier said than done. However, I have found that even if it is a horrible, horrible day in the car, remaining as calm as possible is best for all of us. (Of course, I then vent or rather lose it to my husband afterwards. Thanks Hun!)
Don’t get me wrong…we still have fussy days in the car. However, we both have learned what works for us. Because of that, we drive and smile on…
What was/is your experience with your baby or toddler in the car? What strategies or “tricks” do you have?