*Warning* If you are the parents of children that fall asleep as soon as the car is in motion then I am entirely too envious of you and this post is not for you. This is one area where we are not blessed. My kids NEVER sleep in the car.
From the time my kids were newborn we were trekking them across the province, so you would think that I would be an expert when it came to being prepared for long car trips. Yet this holiday season, I found myself sitting in the van with the kids loud and crazy behind me; and I was thinking to myself: "why didn't I better prepare us for this 8 hour long voyage?".
I have many excuses - I had to pack everything for a family of 5 for 5 days - It is Christmas, I already had a million things to do - the kids are old enough to pack their own bag of things to do in the car - and so on.....
But honestly, I just forgot. (The more kids you have the more this seems to happen...or I'm just old). So I spent a good portion of the car ride making up a list of things to do during long car rides so that I can preserve my sanity during our next trip.
You see, I am not someone that believes that electronics are a free-for-all in the car. Screen time is still limited when we travel albeit more flexible. For example during an 8 hour trek, they are allowed about 2 hours or so of electronic use. So what to do during the other 6 hours? Good question. Here are a few ideas.
Bring way more snacks than you think you will need. Boredom often leads to eating, so be prepared. Snacks that take a lot of time eat are good. Like popcorn or pretzels. Ot let them make there own cheese, cracker and salami "sandwiches". Buy snacks you normally don't allow and let them eat at strange times. My daughter exclaimed "You are letting us eat chips BEFORE lunch!". This made her quite happy.
Because the game "who can stay quiet the longest" never works, it is best to have alternatives ready! You can keep a small suitcase of games and activities for travel-time only.
contents: Puppets, travel Chess, Road BINGO, deck of cards, magnets and magnetic picture bords, travel Magna-Doodle, Travel Scavenger hunt and Dinosaur information cards.
Have a favourites playlist ready for each family member on an iPod.Take turns playing them and singing along as a family. This avoids "what to listen to" arguments as everyone gets a turn.
Think outside the box
Window markers are great. And even better in the car!
We have a van so the side windows are huge and allow for a lot of room to be creative. Just make sure you have paper towels ready to wipe down the windows.
Ideas for the anxious travellers
Use a picture board to show visually how far you are on your path. This board is from Connecting Pieces. They have other great resources as well. Check them out here.
(This is the flight card, our car card is long worn out...)
You can also plan your rest stops in advance and have them written out so that after each stop, the child can check off and count down the points until arrival.
When all else fails - pull over and have the kids run laps around an empty parking lot until they are beyond fatigued!!!
Send your travelling tips/ideas in the comments. Together we will make the next trip amazingly fun! Or at least sane. :)
Hope and happiness,
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