Once again, the time has come to cram every electronic item you can’t live without into a suitcase (along with some clothes) and drive cross country in the family vehicle, all in the name of summer vacation. You look forward to getting away from it all, but dread the six, ten, or even twelve-hour drive to get to your amazing summer destination.
If it was just you it wouldn’t be so bad, but the thought of being locked in the vehicle with the kids for that long makes you shudder. Before your trip take time to prepare for the commute with the kiddos. Follow the tips below to help your trip go as smoothly as possible.
Give creativity kits: Kids are little artists, and the right supplies can keep them entertained and quiet for hours. Start with an empty shoebox or plastic storage container and fill it will artistic goodies. Put in coloured paper or a notebook, crayons, colored pencils, stickers, a mini chalkboard and chalk, a glue stick, and safety scissors. If your kids can’t handle safety scissors or glue sticks, add in fun chunky crayons made for little hands and coloring books. If you are feeling brave and have older kids, add in washable markers. Keep a pack of wipes handy, as art time can easily turn into a mess. Try not to put anything in the box that won’t easily come off of the seats in the car.
Have snacks handy: When kids get hungry, they get cranky. Avoid meltdowns by keeping snacks and drinks handy. Skip sugary drinks that can make kids stir crazy and instead pass out kid-sized water bottles. The smaller size also avoids many additional bathroom stops. Finger foods that are bite sized are best for the car because the small size makes it less likely for the kids to choke. Consider mini marshmallows, mini cubes of cheese, raisins, or homemade trail mix. Two foods to watch out for are grapes and popcorn, which are both famous for being easy to choke on. Avoid anything that can spill easily or stain the seats.
Bring a DVD player: There is just something about watching a movie in the car that excited kids. If your vehicle has a DVD player installed, bring in some new DVDs that the kids have not seen in a while. If you do not have a DVD player in the car, you still have options. Many laptops play DVDs, or you can purchase a DVD system with two screens for less than $100. The DVD systems with multiple screens attaches onto the head rests of the driver and passenger seats and kids can sit back and enjoy the show. You can leave them in the car permanently or just use the system for road trips. This is a great investment! One option that many families use are those electronic boxes that rent DVDs and allow you to return them to any rental box (think Redbox). Let the kids pick a movie, pay the small fee, and return it at the next box you see.
Keep little minds thinking with stories and music: If you can tolerate the books on tapes and musical CDs for kids then you have one more tool to keep the kids quiet in the car. Once they get tired of their creativity kits, pop in the least annoying kids musical CD you can find and let the singing begin. Don’t be surprised if later you find the wheels on the bus stuck in your head. If you go for books on tape or CD keep it age appropriate. Many libraries have a wide selection of these, everything from Fancy Nancy to Harry Potter. Get your kids excited by allowing them to help pick out the selections.
Do you have any tips to help car trips go smoothly? How do you pass the time with your kiddos? Be sure to leave a comment and let us know!
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