Don’t you just dread the kids shouting out “Are we there yet”? Traveling on long car journeys need not be such a stressful experience.
Keeping kids occupied with games to play in the car on long journeys and in traffic jams is a big challenge. The secret to this is to be organised. When I know I am going traveling with children on long journeys by car I keep an eye out for special offers on snack size items and drinks, colouring books, crayons and activity packs just for this purpose.
Have plenty of small snacks and small drinks to hand – but not left in the boot! Pack each child their own in-car picnic for when they get the munchies. Make sure you have plenty wet wipes or kitchen paper handy. When you are travelling with children you could have a special bag for each child that is ready just to pick up and place in the car so there is no running around at the last minute. When you return from your trip you could get it ready for the next time you will be travelling with children so you are well prepared.
No matter how old your children are make sure you have an adequate supply of picture and reading books, colouring books and their favourite small toys. Even a personal DVD player if your budget will stretch that far. You can also buy activity packs for children in a particular age range. The more choice you have the less likelihood of them getting bored and you losing your concentration and soon you will reach your destination in relative peace. If the kids are happy then you are happy and everyone will be more relaxed instead of getting stressed out. The only problem might be getting them out of the car if their DVD has not finished! In between DVD’s or even if you don’t have the luxury of that technology intersperse their reading by playing other games in the car. There is always the traditional I-Spy game which is always popular when travelling with children but I have listed some more ideas below:-
What Am I?: One person states they are either a person, place or object and the others then ask questions (are you red, can you speak, do you bark, can you be eaten, etc) until they guess what that person is, then they are next.
Colours: Choose a colour and have everyone help name as many different items as possible in that colour.
Nursery Rhyme Changes: Recite nursery rhymes for children and encourage your child to join in. If they are comfortable with the rhyme, change one word and see if they can tell you what’s different. (Example: “Baa, Baa black sheep have you any wool, yes sir yes sir ten socks full”) carry on the rhyme until they notice the changes.
Finish the Story: You start telling a story then everyone takes it in turns adding to the story line. If you have a children’s tape recorder you could even tape it for them to listen to on the return journey and have a laugh.
Opposites: Call out a word and have your child respond with the opposite. (Examples: tall-short, hot-cold, quickly-slowly)
Categories: Choose something your child is familiar with like fruits, colours or shapes, and see how many they can name.
20 Questions: How much do you really know about your children’s likes and dislikes? About what they are thinking? Use this time to get to know them better by asking questions like: – Do you remember your dreams? What are they about? – What is your favourite food? What food would you rather not eat again? – What is your favourite colour? – What makes them happy, what makes them unhappy and what makes them get angry?
Telephone Time: If your child owns a toy telephone, have them call you, dad, grandma, the dog or cat. Encourage them to talk about what they have seen on their trip.
The Quiet Game: If all else fails, try this old standby for a few minutes of peace and quiet. The one who stays quiet the longest should receive a small surprise or their first choice of a snack. A great game for when things are getting stressed when travelling with children – if you are lucky they might even drop off to sleep!!
Hopefully some of the above will help take the stress and boredom out of car journeys for you and your family, travelling with children may not be the headache you thought it would be after all.
Have a safe trip!
David is the Father of one son and has enjoyed many long car journeys with him and his friends without getting too stressed. He has written various articles on parenting and has a website aimed at under 5’s where you can read more articles, recipes, and humour.
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