If there is a parent alive who has not suffered through a whiny chorus of “Are We There Yet?” or “He’s hitting me,” or “She took my . . .(you fill in the dots), “Do we have to listen to this station?”, my guess is that parent does not have a car. Or has a vehicle with a DVD player in the back seat.
Tips for a Family Road Trip
When I was a kid and “I’m tired of counting blue cars,” boredom set in, the bickering started, and my parents’ patience wore out. I still remember my mother reaching her arm into backseat territory, blindly flailing the air in search of any body part on which she could demonstrate how she felt about our travel behavior.
Long car trips with pre-school and school-age kids can be a rough start for a family vacation and not the most spectacular ending to a week of ultra-togetherness either. That could be one of the most obvious statements ever made. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, but it is only a prelude to some of the more creative what-to-do-in-the-car activities I’ve uncovered for those getting ready to head out for a long Labor Day Weekend.
Distraction is Key
An excellent investment with a terrific cost-to-peace ratio. Soft pillow bottom rests easily on kids’ laps, while the hard top provides a firm surface not only for drawing and writing but as a platform for princesses, miniature animals, superheroes, and other imagination-inspiring toys. They offer an excellent snack-eating surface as well. Go basic by ordering from Target, Walmart, or other discount outlets.
Play “Name that Tune.”
On pit stops or meal stops, no one walks.
Jump to the door hop to the restroom. Do something, anything, to get the energy out. Offer an incentive; the most creative non-walking idea gets a special rest stop treat.
Not always easy to find a crowd-pleaser if the kids’ ages cover a widespread, so bring along your audio players. If you only have one, beg or borrow so each child has his/her own. Today’s screen-spoiled kids might initially balk at being told to listen, but such is the power of a great book if the kids are told, “Listen for five minutes.” They may end up liking it! Audiobooks are effective calmer-downers, so the time to whip them out is when the “He’s looking at me,” “She’s making that noise I hate” frequency and volume intensify. If the kids don’t stay focused, there’s a good chance the audiobooks will lull them into naps. That is a good thing.
Lots of Food & Snacks
No one wants a hangry kid in the back seat, so bring a bag full of food surprises. GourmetGiftBaskets.com has a junk food care package perfect for family road trips!
Mazes. Mad Libs. Word Search.
Have each child pack a “keep busy” bag. It is amazing how things we as parents and grandparents would never choose provide long-time entertainment. My granddaughter played with two tiny animals for a full 45 minutes. They both could have fit in a shot glass. Would I have picked those toys? Not on a bet.
At each stop, buy postcards. Kids of school-age can write them to friends and relatives and mail them home along the way.
True or fiction, it doesn’t matter. Have each family member take turns “writing” the story. Go around the car, and each person has to add a bit more until the story is finished!
And, whatever you do, DO NOT forget the lovey or the Blankey!