I feel sorry for my kids when they are stuck in the car for long road trips; it’s not their fault they get bored, what can you expect? So it’s our duty to really make an effort and keep them happy and entertained somehow. Even though we have a really nice vehicle, and it is super comfortable, my kids still get restless!
Car Games can pass the time if you have enough energy to keep them going, and this can be a hard task if you are driving too. If you have an adult passenger, then they need to be the one in charge of entertainment.
If the driver is on duty, it may be safer to consider buying a portable DVD player to keep the kids amused. They are so cheap these days, and whilst we don’t like to let our children watch too much T.V., this is one time where we can treat the poor little things who are strapped down for 3 hours!
You don’t need screens on every headrest, we have managed with one small player resting on a plank of wood in the middle of the seat (so it is right between the backs of the front seats).
Tips To Pass The Time On Long Road Trips
Without props, most car games have to be based around looking, speaking and singing. Singing is a great one if you are confident enough to lead. Don’t be embarrassed, your children are not going to mind! Sing all your favorite songs, or even let them pick a tune they know, and just sing “la la la” if you don’t know the words.
It’s a great way to expel energy when your body is restrained in a car seat. Any CD/tape can become a karaoke competition! Alternatively, invest in some story tapes, and maybe even let each child have a ‘walkman‘ with headphones so you don’t all have to listen to the same thing.
Word games are secretly education, but don’t let them realize! The classics like ‘I-spy’ can be extended and developed to lead to new variations. You can think of any number of themes for “I went to the market and bought...” (taking turns to think of something for the letters A-Z), and this really works your memory as you recite the whole list as it grows.
My favorite, as a child, was based on cars (well, there are always plenty to be seen out of the window); counting car colors, trying to think of a car brand for each letter of the alphabet, inventing acronyms to fit the letters on a number plate…
If you can prepare in advance, a cardboard box in the middle of the seat can be filled with pencils, paper, books, and little toys that amuse the hands. Include some random/weird grown-up items that they don’t usually get to play with; an old phone, an egg whisk, a tiny box. Magnetic games may work, but someone always drops a piece and you can’t quite reach it.
Other top tips
Food keeps children quiet, we know that! To avoid hundreds of snacks, arrange for kids to eat their meal in the car! A packed lunch will keep them happy for a good time, even more, if you arrange lots of small items. Just as long as they can unwrap it themselves. Let them wear old clothes so you have no concerns over spillages. Change into clothes when you arrive, and this also makes sure the clothes are not horrible rumpled.
Obviously, a stop is required at least every 2 hours. On the way back from the bathroom, get everyone running, jumping, flapping their arms, stretching and twisting. Especially if there is no time/place to play.
Travel sickness is a horrible thing to endure, and those who have never experienced it for themselves will never understand the very real misery. Some say sitting on a newspaper helps, but the absolutely crucial thing is to keep looking out of the window. So no DVD/books for the sicky child (story tapes are still good though).
Constant encouragement to keep them looking out (as part of a game) will help the brain resolve the signals from eyes/inner-ears that are responsible for nausea. Distraction (again, with the game) can also work well. Tablets never seem to work, so many people tell me.
I hope your next journey is noisy as the last one, but this time, happily noisy!