We’ve all been there: hearing your child’s voice for what seems to be the 400th time asking, “Are we there yet?” Save your sanity and help your children (and yourself) enjoy the journey a whole lot more with these fun strategies for keeping your children’s hands and minds busy and happily distracted.
- Sing-a-Long Fun: Channel your inner DJ and create a fun playlist for your trip with an accompanying binder of lyrics your kids can use to follow along. Your budding songbirds will love it!
- Shape Shifting: Give each of your kids a three-foot piece of aluminum foil and let their imaginations run wild. The goal: create anything they can. Then amp up the fun by giving them new materials to use such as pipe cleaners, sticker eyes, pom-poms or Wikki Stix. You can then take pictures of your creations to save in your travel scrapbook.
- Ticket Takers. Take a nod from MomsMiniVan.com, car travel and road trip game experts. Give your kids a pre-counted baggie of tickets based on the duration of the trip and have them turn in a ticket every 30 minutes or 30 miles. When the tickets are gone, you’ll have reached your destination. Tickets please!
- Supply Surprise: Short on time before you leave? Head to your desk to find sticky notes, tape, rubber bands, paper clips (they can connect them to make necklaces), pens and washable markers. Office supplies are perfect double-duty tools to keep little hands busy.
- Scavenger Hunt: Everyone loves the hunt. Give your kids a list of things to “find” on your trip. They can use their camera or tablet to take pictures of each item.
- Sweet or Sour: Ever play Sweet or Sour? Playworks.org, experts on the power of play on school playgrounds, came up with a great game – just wave at other motorists or people on the street. If they wave back, they are sweet. If not, they are sour. Keep a tally.
- Top Ten Lists: Check out books from the library about your destination and read them on the way. Work as a team to come up with 10 cool things you didn’t know about your destination.
- Tablet Games: On your tablet – or the kids’ tablets – proactively store age-appropriate games in the form of mobile apps ahead of the trip. Kids love games like the always-popular “Head’s Up” and “That’s Baloney.” Also try “Quiz Up,” the biggest trivia game in the world. The web site “bestappsforkids.com” offers mobile app suggestions for games the whole family can play together and are sure to love.
- Listen Up: Bring along audio books or podcasts to listen to as a family. Something that’s age appropriate with a lot of excitement works like a dream to pass the time.
- Mini-Fun: Think cute food. Anything in mini-packages will be a hit. Mini bags of grapes, crackers, carrot sticks, pretzels, cheese cubes – and maybe even some treats they aren’t normally allowed to have at home are all winners. Pull them out every so often along the ride to keep tummies happy and boredom to a minimum.
Traveling with children can feel like a chore to many parents, but a little preparation, the right mindset and a desire to make indelible memories can turn that around. Make it an adventure – then enjoy every precious moment!