After a big week of work, as a working mom, I finally got a break to go on a road trip with our kids. Before we headed out, though, I had to prepare. I love him to death, but any mother knows how easily kids get bored and stop paying attention. If we were going to have a nice road trip and bond as I had intended to, I needed to make sure the car ride went smoothly. After all, you can’t explain to a five-year-old that the car ride is the best part of the road trip. Here’s how we kept the kids entertained on the road.
1. Car games
This seems to be an old classic that never fails. Kids are naturally curious, and my son is no exception. I noticed he kept looking out the window while we were on the road and pointing certain things out to me. He’d get especially excited if we passed by some animals. Then I had an idea- why not encourage him to look for things?
So we played I spy with my little eye for the next half an hour until he was tired enough to take a nap. This game not only kept him entertained and let him explore the world with his eyes but also tired him out. He also liked to play the road trip bingo. I printed out some items on a piece of paper before we left. He had fun spotting all of them and crossing them out even with me focusing on the road.
2. A digital entertainment – tablet
We live in an age of technology, so you might as well use that to your advantage. When it’s just the two of you in the car, like it was with us, you have to know that you won’t be able to participate in all the games all the time. That’s why I found that having a digital entertainment tablet was extremely useful.
He played educational games as well as the silly and colorful ones he likes, and for a while, all I heard was giggling. It was as relaxing for me as it was for him.
Story time always captures his interest at home, so I thought “why not try it on the road?” Of course, I couldn’t read to him while driving, so I chose the next best option. Audiobooks are very entertaining for both of us, and he genuinely enjoyed listening to them (which was a nice surprise since we never really listened to them before).
There are a lot of kid-friendly audiobooks you can choose from; our pick was the Tree House collection. You don’t even have to buy an audiobook if you only plan this to be a one-time thing. This was an experiment for us, so we rented from the library.
Since everything is digital nowadays, I thought I’d give my boy a chance to see how it was in the olden days. I bought a map and gave him a marker. This way, he could see exactly where we were going and cross off the places we’ve already passed.
It made it seem like this journey wasn’t endless and kept him excited for the next mark. He also got a kick out of holding an actual map in his hands. In fact, we made a pirate game out of it and pretended we were looking for treasure.
5. Healthy snacks
A fussy child is a hungry child. If I haven’t learned that each morning before work, I haven’t learned anything as a mother. That’s why I made sure to pack lots of healthy snacks. Granola bars, dark chocolate, and fresh fruits were all part of the ensemble. I even made him a few sandwiches.
This made it easier to reach our destination without having to stop every time he was feeling peckish. There were also no outburst of “I’m bored” or tears, which is a huge success. Healthy snacks on the go can also make you feel better about providing tons of different snacks to your children in the car too.
6. Coloring and drawing
What keeps my kid entertained is a good coloring book. I figured this out when he was around three and started going through the drawing on the walls phase. Since drawing and coloring can keep him occupied for hours, I thought it’d be a good idea to pack his art supplies with us. And it was! After his afternoon snack, he had a fun time in the backseat while I could focus on reaching our destination in peace.
Since this isn’t really something you can do in the car, I had to make sure he was safe. We have heard about quality and reliable baby car seats that a coworker recommended a while back that hasn’t failed us yet, so all I needed now was a hard surface. With his comfy seat and sturdy surface, I was able to relax knowing my baby would be safe, and we went on.
I find that the best way to calm a crying and frustrated child is to start singing with them. Long car rides can be very tiring and uncomfortable for kids, regardless of how much you try, so it’s your job to keep their minds off it.
No road trip is complete without the classics like 99 bottles of milk on the wall and this is the song that never ends. I also made a mixtape of our favorite songs that we like to jam out to at home, so all of this noise and good beats made him forget to do anything but laugh.
In the end, we had a wonderful time together and he’s already asking me when we could go again. As rewarding as it was, I must admit that without proper preparation, we would’ve had a car ride from hell. I managed to keep him entertained with all of these combined, as he lost interest for some of the activities along the way, so don’t be afraid to mix it up. The last thing I needed over the weekend was more stress after the long week at work I had, and we kept the kids entertained on the road.