What To Pack for a Long Drive with a Toddler

I have experience now.

long drive with a toddler
These sunglasses lasted longer than most toys for entertainment, but only if he could break them a million times.

My friend and I drove to Texas to visit a girlfriend when my son was 6 months old. A seven-hour drive, and he slept nearly the whole time.

The whole family piled into my in-laws car in 2017, when my son was 11 months old, for a 10-hour drive we split into two days. He didn’t do as well as the Texas trip. But he still did pretty well.

I was still breastfeeding during both of those trips. Any fuss could be nipped (ha) in the bud quickly by a quick pit stop, snack and the ensuing nap.

This trip? Not. So.

Not only am I not breastfeeding, I knew milk wasn’t going to cut it. Plus, it would have been too hard to keep cold.

The toddler has recently been showing off how much of a toddler he can be with the independence and the tantrums and the sass, so I knew I needed more than a few toys and his favorite drink to keep him entertained and satiated — and the rest of us sane — on a two-day, 13-hour PLUS STOPS road trip from Wichita to South Haven.

So I Googled it.

“What to pack for a long drive with a toddler.”


Pause Blog for TL;DR


  • More snacks.
  • You don’t have enough snacks.
  • Pack more snacks.
  • Favorite stuffed animals, blankies and lovies. Maybe a pillow. (I forgot a pillow.)
  • Coloring books and crayons or a doodle board — or both.
  • Storybooks. (So you can get car sick while trying to entertain him.)
  • Toddler-sized driving steering wheel and dashboard toy.
  • A couple to 100 more snacks.

Back to the Blog

One tip rose above the rest in my research: overpack snacks. Pack ALL the snacks. You think you have enough snacks? Pack more snacks.


I dumped a case of applesauce on-the-go pouches in three flavors into the biggest diaper bag I own as well as a box of mixed bagged treats of graham crackers, cheese crackers and “Cheddar Bunnies” — that my son wouldn’t touch, but I sure enjoyed — alongside his go-to favorite strawberry-banana snack bars.

I mean, look at this thing.

what to pack for long drives with a toddler
It’s full of snacks.

A water cup, 25-ounce water bottle for refills and spare milk cup for when we stopped for lunch rounded out this bursting bag.

Of course, I also packed road clothes for potential accidents or diaper leaks of which we only had one — solved in the driveway to the house we were staying in because of an epic tantrum in a grocery store and parking lot during which I gave TF up.

But that’s another blog post.

I did not neglect the need for toys. Food can only be so entertaining… when you crush it up into crumbs to wipe on the adjacent car door or person (me).

I packed one of his collapsable storage cubes to the brim with crayons, coloring books, storybooks, comfort stuffed animals, lovies, blankies and a magnetic doodle board.

pack favorite comfort items when driving with a toddler
ALL the stuffed animals.

I also had a perfectly timed Drive With Me Kiwi&Co. Crate delivery with a cardboard steering wheel and dash. It arrived just three days before we left.

It’s like they knew.

kiwi and co inc tadpole crate drive with me
His favorite part was the temperature control.

I packed his sound machine in the cube to help him sleep in a strange place. As I unplugged it and took it off his dresser, it dawned on me that he’s never touched it. It’s always been on his dresser. He played with it in the car several times. It’s shaped like an owl and has a fascinating amount of buttons.

Rotating snacks, toys and people in the back seat with the toddler kept him mostly entertained and fuss-free.


It’s genius, not toddler-proof.

Nearly home, he lost all sense. His leg was in a Teddy Grahams box. He chewed on his toes. He flailed absent of thought. It was just torment.

Any tips? I’ve got another one of these things planned.

BABR: November Update

First, BABR stands for Biceps and Belly Rolls. Now I don’t have to spell it out again.

Next, wow. It’s been a minute.

Life has a pretty fantastic way of getting in the way, which is why I’ve abandoned boxing, dieting and taking care of myself.

Yay, life.

Life also throws happy days, great opportunities to educate, learn and participate in the community and thankful moments in the way, too.

So, thanks, life.

Let’s focus on the good.

Happy Days


We dressed the toddler up as a puppy for Halloween.


He was literally a little puppy running around with his puppy lovey. (Thank you to my sister-in-law and her sweet boys for hand-me-downing this ADORABLE costume.)


I die.

I realize Halloween happened in October, not November, but this. kid. is. too cute.

Opportunities to Educate…

The Junior League of Wichita Child Advocacy Committee conducted a child abuse information panel with representatives from the Wichita Children’s Home (WCH), the Kansas Department of Children and Families (DCF) and the Exploited and Missing Children’s Unit (EMCU) and two foster parents to discuss the League’s focus area, child abuse prevention and intervention.

The goal was to inform the League about available resources in the community and their needs to assist with child abuse prevention and intervention.

EMCU detectives said the greatest need they see in the community is education. Other panel members agreed. Education not only on how to be a parent — one detective brought up the number of parents who don’t know safe sleep needs for infants — but also education in knowing what support is available to young parents in the Wichita community as well as what programs do for children and families.

Education is an area with which the League is familiar.

The League’s puppet show teaches elementary students about physical and sexual abuse, reaching 23,000 third and fourth graders so far.

In 2013, childabusewichita.org launched as a website designed to be a resource for Wichita to learn more about preventing child abuse and community programs.

In 2014, the League gifted $300,000 to the Child Advocacy Center of Sedgwick County for its education and training wing.

And last year, the League took on a three-year project with the Wichita Children’s Home, granting $150,000 to help build up young mothers and their children through volunteering to mentor, providing necessary care items, such as diapers and formula, and encouraging healthy relationships and secondary education opportunities.

The Two Lives at a Time project is where my heart is, if not where my time is right now.

Top the contributions of the League with the individual contributions of its members, and this group of women shows itself as a force for change within Wichita.

…to Learn…

Junior League of Wichita gets together for a General Membership Meeting (GMM) every (or every other) month for League announcements, project updates and some education of our own.

In November, Kaye Monk-Morgan, assistant vice president for academic affairs at Wichita State University, presented Living Our Values: Respect to the League.

Kaye Monk-Morgan presents to the Junior League of Wichita at the November GMM

I can’t speak for the rows behind me, but from the third row forward, she had women on the edge of their seats. Her insights were heartfelt. Her stories were full of heart — and hilarious.

How do we live our values? When the League comes to serve, Kaye Monk-Morgan charges us to do it with unconditional regard — respect — for ourselves, each other and the people we serve.

At the November meeting, hosted in the Child Advocacy Center’s education and training wing, League members also donated new and gently used professional clothing items to the Two Lives at a Time project with the Wichita Children’s Home for upcoming mock interviews aimed at preparing participating mothers for job and secondary education applications.

Professional attire donations for the Wichita Children's Home Two Live at a Time project with Junior League of Wichita.

Special shoutout to some friends at work who helped grow this donation. Thanks, ladies.

…to Participate

I had a unique opportunity to participate on a panel with KMUW’s Engage ICT’s Democracy On Tap in November, too. The topic was #Activism, or social activism. Thanks to my boss who passed the recommendation to me.


You can watch the video of our discussion at http://www.kmuw.org/post/democracy-tap-activism. I hope I don’t sound dumb. There’s no way I can verify that I don’t sound dumb because there’s no way I can confidently listen to myself speak during this video…

…without it being awkward for me. I will not be taking one for the team here. My boss did. She said I didn’t sound dumb 🙂

Thankful Moments

November was a busy month for me personally and professionally. A true highlight of my month was spending time with family and friends.

First, a dear friend from high school travelled to Wichita for early Thanksgiving celebrations. It’d been three years since we’d seen each other, and it felt like we’d talked just days before getting together to catch up.


I failed to take a picture of our high school reunion with two other dear friends Friday night, but it was good to spend time with them and talk about our recent or current rewatchings of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Screen Shot 2018-11-24 at 10.47.18 PM

And he met my toddler AND BECAME BEST FRIENDS IMMEDIATELY. **heart eyes**


Our formerly yearly Christmas-time get together happened at my mother’s house, where we played six rounds over two nights of cutthroat Pitch. Pitch is a traditional card game of ours. Cutthroat means we didn’t have partners.

He won three rounds. My mother one two rounds. I won only one.

Hey, I was tired.

We played with my great grandmother’s cards, a 50-year-old set I dug out of the junk drawer in my house. They still smell like her house. Smell, I hear, is the strongest trigger for memory.

It’s true.


My husband and I spent Thanksgiving afternoon enjoying family time and a trip to the park, and then went to bed early for the first time in NIGHTS.

Black Friday had a trip to his parents for an amazing lunch — of which my son ate rolls and cake, if you needed more proof that he is my son.


One of my favorite days of the season, Small Business Saturday, found me running up and down Douglas to work in some Christmas shopping.

I picked up a few books for the nephews at Watermark books.

Watermark Books and Cafe on Small Business Saturday

Stops two and three on my #SBSICT run picked up some fun gifts at The Workroom and gift wrap at Love of Character.

Love of Character and the Workroom on Small Business Saturday

Not to be excluded, I also got a cup of coffee outside The Workroom from Sunflower Expresso. It’s a coffee truck. **additional heart eyes**

I cut my shopping trip in half for lunch with girlfriends…


and we talked for like three hours, so I quit shopping and headed home to spend more time with my nugget.


I’m not usually this busy with the real-world. Usually, I’m just busy with toddler world. December isn’t looking any less busy.

Get ready for the next BABR update.


A (late) Mother’s Day update

As Father’s Day quickly approaches, I recall I write a blog about mom-ing that I haven’t updated in since Mother’s Day.

And not even Mother’s Day this year.

May 10, technically, yes. I did bring over a throwback post from my old blog about Mother’s Day, but I don’t think that counts.

So here’s an it’s-almost-Father’s-Day update on Mother’s Day.

My husband woke up with the baby, sorry, toddler, so I could sleep in Mother’s Day. Unfortunately, my internal clock wakes me up at 7 a.m. on weekends whether or not I need to wake up at 7 a.m. or could sleep as long as I wanted.

My internal clock wakes me up at 5:20 a.m. weekdays, but that’s another blog post.

I sleepily descended the stairs to the smell of coffee and a squawking baby, sorry, toddler. 

My husband greeted me, asking if I’d like a cup of coffee.

Yes, yes, of course, I would like a cup of coffee. It’s 80 percent of the liquid in my body. Who needs blood? I have caffeine.

He gave me just the best cup of coffee.

perfect mother's day gift

I cackled this made me so happy.

funny angry baby face

Matt sent me this photo in April of our grumpy baby, sorry, toddler not getting his way. This kid makes some pretty good fuss faces.

Of course, we also went to brunch because it was Mother’s Day, and that’s what you do.

mother's day brunch 2018

And then, I got on a plane and flew to Seattle for a work trip, which reaffirmed my belief that I belong in the Pacific Northwest with mountains and ocean and rain and that sunset. (Also, did you know that wing seats are super bumpy because THEY ARE.)





While mommy worked in Seattle and daddy worked in Wichita, baby, sorry, toddler played with grandma and grandpa.

batman baby playing in the water

toddler mowing the driveway

oh the thinks you can think book

Now that my husband has won Mother’s Day, I obviously have to win Father’s Day. He’s so good at giving presents. I fully expect a coffee cup with a baby picture and witty saying every year for the rest of my life.

My first mother’s day, a throwback

In honor of the upcoming Mother’s Day, let’s look back at my first.


Mother’s Day is a fantastic holiday. Flowers, photos, love — all for moms.

I say this without any bias, of course. Being a mom and all.

My first Mother’s Day was pretty fantastic — probably because it was my first Mother’s Day being a mom and all.

We didn’t have any plans. Henry is still eating and sleeping on demand — sleeping, ha — so I tend to stay at home with him, and it was my husband’s weekend at work. So it was just Henry and I at home playing and singing and ordering groceries and squawking and sleeping — sleeping, ha — for most of the weekend. Just us two.

I celebrated Mother’s Day being a mother.

(No joke, I just teared up a little. Blargh. Hormones.)



My husband sent flowers — because he’s the best — and we enjoyed those.

mothers day bouquet

mothers day baby

mothers day baby with a flower

We did make it out to my grandparents’ house so they could see him and so I could give my mother and grandmother their Mother’s Day gifts… which I forgot… at my house… so baby brain.

Mother's Day (7)

Mother's Day (13)

Visiting family is super exhausting so we had a bath and snuggled for another good chunk of the day.

baby bath towel


Not the best part — the best part was my nugget — but another great part of my first Mother’s Day was all the happy Mother’s Day wishes I received from my tribe. I am a first-time mother, and it was my first Mother’s day, and these women were some of the most excited humans — especially my sister-in-law — when they found out I was pregnant. Their support and love is unwavering, and I’m so very thankful for that, for them.

I’m going to tie a string around my finger for next year so I can wish all the new moms out there a Happy First Mother’s Day — grow the tribe, you know?

I hope you all had a Happy (First or Fifth or 50th) Mother’s Day, too.

Babies are (still) disgusting: An update

Once, I wrote about how disgusting babies were.

Newborn eye gunk? Ew.

Baby hair? Blegh!

Skin folds? *hork*

The poop? I’d take a breast milk poop over a solid food poop any day.

A year in — guess what?

Babies are still disgusting.

baby eating sweet potato
7 months > Mommy’s messy little rock star.

Just even more so.

I have more than 1,500 pictures of my son being cute — of course the number is bigger since my throwback post. I do not, however, have many pictures of my son being disgusting, which is his natural state.


Because I’m covered in or trying to contain whatever disgusting thing just happened.


Here are a few more truly disgusting things about babies that I’ve discovered since becoming a parent:

New and exciting spit up varieties

When my son was a newborn and up to about eight weeks old, he had terrible reflux — not bad enough that he needed medical attention, but just bad enough that it made him a tiny baby barf machine.

And barf he did.

A year later, he rarely spits up. But when he does, he spits up new things. Like peas.

And it’s disgusting.


Drool in quantities fit to fill an Olympic swimming pool. He wasn’t cutting teeth at 3 months old, and he wasn’t cutting teeth at 7 months old, but he drooled enough to show a mouth full of enamel.

A year later, he’s got eight teeth and slobber strings for days.

And it’s disgusting.

Dirty finger nails

If I hand something to my son, he instinctually puts it in his mouth. Obviously, if I’ve given him something, it’s safe to eat.

So he eats it. Or he tries to eat it. Lego Duplos do not a meal make.

Either way, it’s in his mouth. Along with his fingers. And so his fingernails. Drool and dirt combine under those delicate scratchers to create a thick, stinky clog of I don’t want to know what.

AND HE’S MOBILE. Toddling about. So he encounters a lot of dirt.

And it’s disgusting.

Even more toe cheese

My 3-month-old son built up nasty toe cheese from not doing anything or going anywhere.

My 7-month-old son built up nasty toe cheese from doing things and crawling places, mixing it with animal fur he picked up along the way.

A year later, nearly always sock-footed, my son builds up some stinking fuzz wads of nasty in those toes, and I will never understand it.

This does not happen to me.

This does not happen to my husband.

It only happens to the baby.

And it’s disgusting.

“Toe floaties”

Toe cheese scrubbed loose and afloat in the bathtub. Term courtesy of my husband.

Legit adult poop

We encountered a poop or two of epic proportions before my son started solid foods. Some blowouts. Some blowups.

Fairly minor.

Not one of them could have prepared us for the poop that came after his first meal of carrots.

That is a grown-up poop!

People warned me that it would get worse, but no one told me it would be a grown-up poop! That belongs in a toilet, not a diaper.

And it’s disgusting.

9 months > He tried to feed himself.

There is no escape from the nasty that is a baby, a toddler or, I expect, an adolescent. I’m certainly not looking forward to his teenager years.

I shudder at the thought.

Babies are gross, greasy, crusty little dirt monsters — and I don’t see it getting any cleaner in the foreseeable future.

My advice to you should you choose to engage in ensuring the livelihood of one of these dirty little demons: Register for bibs. Lots of bibs. You need them. It’s OK to have 3 million of them.

They won’t all make it.