Summertime is approaching! Children are counting down the days until vacation while their parents are busy researching camps and planning getaways. Locations are researched, reservations are made, everyone begins looking forward to the trip–but they all dread the long car rides required.
But with a little advanced planning, you can all survive the ride! Here are some ideas:
- Listen to stories on CD (borrowed from a friend or the library). “The Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series is a hit with all of my kids (ages 3-13). Pro tip: get more than you think you’ll need just in case some fall flat (as well as having new options to listen to on the return trip).
- Play “Guess that Tune” by starting a song and quickly pausing it. Pro tip: After they guess, ask them to figure out whom in the family that song is dedicated to. (This was such a hit with my kids I now have a “Dedications” playlist with songs like Elvis Presley’s “Devil in Disguise” as a dedication to our adorable and naughty 3-year-old.)
- Of course snacks are essential. Keep them dry, neat and dole them out slowly, keeping drinks to a bare minimum to decrease stops. Pro tip: Be prepared for carsickness! Make sure a few empty plastic bags are available (one for catching vomit, one for putting dirty clothes in, etc). Make sure a change of clothes is easy to access.
- There are a lot of books and games that use a dry erase marker. We’re fond of these because the answers can be wiped off and another kid can try. Pro tip: When they’re tired of the game they can use the blank spaces to doodle or play tic-tac-toe.
- Keep numbered clothespins pinned to the sun visor (I had to put a large rubber band on for mine). That adorable but naughty 3-year-old of mine sometimes needs a visual reminder of how many more chances she has to behave before being punished. Pro tip: Use them to reward good behavior instead, adding one for each half hour without bickering, for example, and follow through with a special treat while on vacation.
- Tell stories! Tell the kids stories from your own childhood. Another fun thing to do is to have each person say one sentence to make up a silly story. Pro tip: Another fun twist on storytelling is to play like this: One person makes a statement, for example: “I bought some shoes.” The next person has to start with the word ‘unfortunately’ saying, for example, “Unfortunately, they were too big for me.” The following person starts with ‘fortunately,’ for example, “Fortunately, the shoe store accepts exchanges.” Next person has to start with ‘unfortunately’ again. Continue on in this fashion as long as you can!
- Lastly, don’t forget the parents! For me, sunglasses and gum are a “must” as I dole out the games and snacks while my husband does the driving with his “must-have” items…noise canceling headphones and a phone full of his favorite podcasts.