Headed for a long road trip and wondering how you'll survive with two kids trapped in the back seat for seven hours? Tame those savage beasts with food and exercise.
Opt for snacks that are filling, healthy and less likely to leave a stain on the cloth seats.
Fruit is a great choice, but pick wisely. Finger fruits, such as grapes, are easily doled out a few at a time and leave little mess behind. Freeze them for a sweet popsicle-like treat that doubles as ice for the cooler. Easy-to-peel clementine oranges also are good, as are bananas. Bring extra bags for the garbage. You'll want to get the remains out of the car as quickly as possible, before the smell of that slowly rotting banana peel becomes overwhelming.
Fiber helps keep tummies full a little longer. That old toddler standby, the bag of Cheerios, will keep even older kids (and adults) happy.
Avoid salty snacks such as pretzels and chips. Not only are they bad for you, they make everyone thirsty. And thirsty people drink more, which leads to more frequent potty stops, which leads to an even longer car ride.
Speaking of thirst, pack water. It's better for you and spills won't stain the seats or require a change of clothes.
Stop as often as you can to let everyone out of the car for a walk or run. Look for a McDonald's with a Play Place (feed the kids first and you can get away with buying nothing but a cup of coffee to sip while the kids zip) or stop at a roadside park that has a playground.
When you can't-or don't want to-stop for a stretch, get kids moving inside the car with a rousing game of head, shoulders, knees and toes. Mix it up (toes, tummy, nose and ears) and sing it faster and faster until everyone is giggling too hard to go on.
Cindy Richards is the mom of two who gets her muse from traveling the world, usually with kids in tow. She also writes for TravelingMom.com, where she also serves as editor.
See more of Cindy's stories here.