When You Are the Entertainment Committee: Having Fun on the Road
My husband’s mother is infamous for declaring to her bored kids, “I AM NOT THE ENTERTAINMENT COMMITTEE!” Unfortunately on road trips, parents are often relegated this responsibility. If not properly prepared, long drives can become tedious and a dreaded occurrence.
The older my children get, the easier they are to entertain on road trips. Now 3 and 5 years old, here are some tried and true tips that have helped us:
* Food. Bringing a cooler with fresh, healthy food and water is a necessity. And who are we kidding: we all love our road-trip treats. Just be sure to eat them in moderation because sugar crashes in confined spaces aren’t fun for anyone. Remember: when they are chewing, they are not screaming.
*Comfort. I always have my children’s blankets and pillows accessible. My father always traveled with the window down in sub-zero temperatures. I now ensure my children wear layers. And ban my husband from even cracking the window.
*Books. I bring interactive, age-appropriate books. My kids are finally getting to the age where they enjoy entertaining books on CD we check out from the library. Headphones are my new best friend.
*Coloring books and scrapbooks. My kids love to color and draw. We are always on the lookout for fun roadside treasures to sketch in our travel journal, which is where we also preserve many of our souvenirs. We like to make funny signs and pictures to display when we pass cars.
*Maps. My kids are not directionally-challenged like their mother and they adore maps. My husband always prints out some Google maps and we also follow our route in our Rand McNally book of maps. When I’m really organized, I do some research and share fun things the children who live in that area like to do. Many times, this is where we’ll stop for our regular breaks.
*Travel Games. We have a great collection of travel-sized games that ranges from Hungry Hungry Hippos to magnetic playing cards. After losing numerous game pieces to our car’s Black Hole, we now keep them in an enclosed container. You can also find a lot of great printable car games online and don’t forget about the old classics like “I Spy” or the license plate game.
*Wikki Sticks or Pipe Cleaners. This is cheap entertainment at its best and really fosters the imagination! We create silly creatures, glasses, action figures, tiaras, headbands and jewelry. Really, the sky in the limit and if things get too out of hand, you can always threaten to make a muzzle out of them. :-)
*Dollar Store. I am convinced the Dollar Store was made expressly for kids on road trips. The week prior to our vacation, I assign my kids various chores around the house. With the money they earned, I set them loose at the Dollar Store to relish in the glory of cheap plastic toys that I do not care if they get broken.
*Electronics. Where would we be without modern technology? My children enjoy their little educational computers but are finally getting to the age where they play electronic games. Oh, and don’t forget that portable DVD player with their favorite movies. When my kids start to get bored, it’s my wild card.
And I usually come out the winner.
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