Summer is prime time for family fun, but it doesn't always pan out the way you think it will (as families of kids with special needs well know). The people at P&G and Babies "R" Us asked me to share tips I've learned over the years. Read on, and enter to win a $75 Toys "R" Us gift card (also good at Babies "R" Us) to jumpstart your summer fun.
1. Keep a bag of toys and books in the car
Include a few gift-wrapped ones, too. We have a cloth tote with a few surprises for the kids to play with, so they are not glued to the DVD on road trips—or they could use a little distraction when we hit a restaurant. Max's sensory issues used to get the best of him and he'd sometimes hesitate to go in, but if I pulled out a wrapped surprise toy I had a better chance of enticing him in. Some of the stuff in our bag: books about fire trucks, a mini Etch A Sketch, a Bruin Revvin Rescue Friction Fire Truck (see a theme here?!), a Color Wonder Planes Fire & Rescue Book with magic markers, a drawing pad plus sheets of assorted stickers.
2. Store wipes in the glove compartment
We have long kept a stash of Pampers Sensitive Wipes in the glove compartment. They're handy for ice-cream pit stops, the roadside BBQ stand your husband insists on visiting despite the fact that he ate lunch a half-hour ago, wiping sand off the kids' feet post-beach and all other situations involving a mess and/or husbands who can't resist BBQ. Also good: a portable stain pre-treat stick, like Dreft's. We still hit Babies 'R Us for this stuff because we get good coupons.
3. Make an activity backup plan
As much as you think the zoo or adventure park might be a fun outing, your child might not agree (see: meltdown central). Before you go, Google around and see if there are alternate activities in the area, or just a nice park where you could chill out for a bit...and maybe give the zoo or adventure park another go.
4. Bring beach gear your kid can handle
It isn't easy for Max to grasp the skinny handles of those little beach shovels; he does better with ones that have thick, long handles. I've made buckets more graspable by wrapping a washcloth around the handle.
5. Sneak a little therapy into your road trip
One good game I learned from a speech therapist: I Say, You Say. Make simple sounds like maaa, paaa, taaa, baaaa and daaaa and have your kid imitate them. You can start with one sound like "ma ma ma" and move on to other combos like "ma da" or "pa ba." You can also do some fine- and gross-motor-skill movements to accompany the sounds like clapping your hands or touching different body parts.
6. Have an emergency tote in the trunk
Before Max was potty trained, we had a bag in the trunk filled with diapers, wipes and Bibsters (disposable paper bibs), along with a couple of changes of clothing.
7. Ask about a quiet space
If we're going to a theme park, I'll call ahead of time and ask about quiet areas. If we're visiting another family for a barbecue, I'll email the host and ask where a good quiet spot is to take Max in case he needs to regroup. It's good to know so you're not simultaneously dealing with a wailing kid on sensory overload and figuring out a place to whisk him away from the crowds, fast.
8. Two words: water gun
This trick was a winner on a long trip we took last summer. Turn off the air conditioning. Open the car's windows. Grab a loaded water gun you have cleverly brought with you (here's a six-pack of 'em). Turn around and start blasting the kids, who will inevitably crack up. Guaranteed, they will ask you to squirt some in their mouths, one cool way to help keep them hydrated. Replenish the gun with your water bottle. Enjoy your status as Coolest Mom Ever—at least for the next couple of hours.
Enter to win a $75 Toys "R" Us gift card
I have one $75 Toys "R" Us gift card up for grabs. To enter, you must both:
• Fill in your information on the form below
• Leave a comment on this post sharing summer plans you're excited about.
Extra entries are available.
This giveaway will be open until Tuesday, June 16, 2015 at 12:00 a.m. The winner will be announced here. Open to legal residents of the U.S. See "Terms and Conditions" for the full rules.
More chances to win a gift card!
Happening on June 9th at 1pm ET: a Babies "R" Us Twitter party. Hashtag: #BabysBigSummer. Join in to win one of nine $150 Babies "R" Us gift cards, or a $250 Babies "R" Us gift card.
a Rafflecopter giveaway This post is sponsored by P&G, from whom I received compensation and products, but all opinions and joyful experiences are my own.
Offers at Babies "R" Us throughout June include $9.99 Pampers Splashers, $5 off Luvs Value Box of Diapers, $19.99 Pampers Value Boxes of Wipes and a free Dreft Stain Remover 22 oz. with purchase of Dreft laundry detergent 100 oz.