My husband and I are taking our 15-month-old daughter with us on a 4-hour car trip — and I have no doubts that it’ll be a smooth ride. Because we’ve got a secret weapon for car-hating babies and toddlers, and we’re not afraid to use it.
It’s a $50 portable DVD player with Peppa Pig playing nonstop. We just strap that sucker to the headrest facing our daughter’s car seat, hit “play” and let the magic begin.
The thing is, car trips weren’t always this simple. Far from it, actually.
My first and third children are what I lovingly refer to as high-maintenance, or high-needs kids. (Our middle child, in comparison, is laid-back and just kind of floats through life.) As babies, kids one and three both acted like the world was ending if they didn’t have constant physical contact with me. And in cars? They screamed the entire time. I could hardly drive anywhere that took longer than 20 minutes because they would either, A) Eventually throw up from crying so much, or B) Cause too much anxiety for me to even consider attempting a longer trip.
We tried it all. I sat in the back seat next to my youngest. That ended up backfiring because then she could see me, but I still wasn’t holding her. We tried toys/books/milk right before leaving/snacks/music/singing/ignoring. But still, she wailed. And I felt terrible.
Everything changed once we discovered the distracting powers of Peppa Pig on the go. Is it the bright colors, the simple shapes, or the British accent? Perhaps it’s fact that they’re all animals? Or maybe it’s that catchy little theme jingle? I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I’m thankful for that cheeky little piggy and her family. Because my otherwise pissed and writhing pint-sized car rider is transformed into an angelic, expert traveler.
I’d like to point out that we don’t force hours of screen time on our toddler under any other circumstances. However for everyone’s sanity, this is our go-to arrangement for long car rides. (And we still make pit-stops for diaper changes, food, or to stretch or our legs.) But dare I say it? Car trips with a three kids — ages 1, 3, and 5 — can actually be pleasant these days.
And I owe it all to this magical device and a cartoon pig.
This post originally appeared on BabyCenter in 2017