If you find yourself answering the question, “Are we there yet?” for the thousandth time within 45 minutes of leaving the house on a long road trip, you’re joining the ranks of parents who are looking for ways to entertain kids in the car. Antsy kids can make travel very irritating, and they can pose a safety risk as they wiggle out of their seats and play with the window buttons. Having a variety of things for them to do will help everyone to stay calm, safe and happy.
Technology to the Rescue
I don’t know for sure how the pioneers entertained kids in those covered wagons, and I’m glad I don’t have to figure it out. Bring along a portable DVD player or some tablets and make your road trip with kids exponentially easier. Put on a movie, let them play games, or set them up with an e-book, and enjoy the blissful quiet. Headphones are recommended.
Games Save the Day
If your kids are bickering (“Mom! Her foot is on my side of the car!”), it’s a sign that they want to interact with each other, but are having trouble being nice about it. Road games like the license plate game or slug bug will draw their attention outside and help them to enjoy the scenery. Word games, rhyming games, or magnetic board games will help them to hang out together without fighting. A little friendly competition goes a long way. In moments of desperation, try engaging them in a rousing round of the quiet game.
The best way for me to entertain my toddler when I need to eat or shower is to giver her a crayon and paper. She will be magically entertained with these items for a minimum of 30 minutes. Art supplies are a must-have on our family road trips, and my kids will use them to channel their energy for the bulk of the trip. It’s true that I’ll be fishing colored pencils out from under the seats for days after, but it’s totally worth it to keep them happy. There are a lot of fun ideas for convenient art kits that you can make yourself on Pinterest, and these help to keep things a little more organized.
Take a Break
When the energy level in your car is reaching critical mass and you don’t think you can take much more, it’s time to take a break. Distracted driving is a leading cause of accidents, and you don’t want to be frustrated when freighting down the freeway. We try to stop somewhere that has a playland every time we need to eat. This allows the kids to burn off some physical energy while my husband and I enjoy a shake and some air conditioning. A good romp at the playland is sometimes followed up by a nap in the car, which is the best result we can hope for.