Easter Break and summer are coming up soon – which means many families will be headed out on long car trips. Here are some tips for keeping kids occupied and happy…
- Plan, plan, and plan some more. Know ahead of time where you can and will stop for potty breaks and to stretch legs. (How often will depend on the ages of your children and their bladder control!) Be sure to build time into the trip to run & play a little bit … rest stops with park-like areas are great. Pack a soccer ball, frisbee, or other playthings to encourage kids.
- Expect the unexpected. When it happens, go with the flow and then move on. (think a two-year-old with diarrhea and a huge diaper blowout… on the driver’s seat and all over mom’s shorts. ask me how bad that stunk – literally and figuratively. but we cleaned up as best we could and moved on.)
- Bring low sugar snacks (fruits, granola, etc.) and drinks for the trip. Portion them out at certain times that you’ve planned ahead. We like to avoid fast food (and save $$) by bringing our own breakfast / lunch items and just eating them at rest stops (see #1).
- Bring fun-to-do playthings in the car for each child. A couple of ideas… a cookie sheet, alphabet magnets, playdoh (to be used with the cookie sheet), coloring books & crayons, etc.
- Bring surprises. Before your trip, go to the dollar store and buy a few fun items for each child (preferably things that will keep them busy in the car or something they can use once you reach your destination). Put them separately in a paper lunch bag and staple it up. Mark it with the child’s name. These surprises can be given out at certain intervals during the trip. Use the excitement over the surprise (build it up!) to keep kids from getting bored.
- Before leaving, print out a map (easy to get on the internet) for each child and mark your route with a highlighter. You can keep kids interested and involved in the traveling by letting them mark “milestones” as you travel. For example, they can color each state as you leave it during a multi-state trip.
- Bring CDs with fun music that your kids’ like to sing along with.
- Familiarize yourself before leaving with road trip games (many can be easily simplified for smaller children). Try “I spy”, “who can spot a red car first” and go through the rainbow, looking for letters of the alphabet, etc.
- Don’t forget pillows and blankets so kids can get comfy for naps!
- And last, but not least, bring a portable DVD player. We always used this as a last resort… when we’d tried everything else and nothing else would cure the boredom.
If you have any more tips that have worked for your family, please share!!