In my last post I explained how I packed the suitcase for our 5 day trek across Canada. Today I am going to talk entertainment. 3 kids, all boys, 7, 4 and 2 stuck in a van for a minimum of 6 hrs a day to a maximum of 10…you need to be prepared! (addendum *we ended up driving right through so it was 3 days with a minimum of 5 hours to a maximum 18 hours *)
1. Go shopping in your house first.
You can be surprised about how much stuff you can find in your own
craft room (or cupboard). Pipe cleaners, pom-poms, crayons, paper, beads and the like can be used for various activities and will save you time and money that you can put towards other parts of your vacation.
Many moms will pick up books when they are on sale and then put them away for a rainy day. A rainy day or a full day in the car are basically the same thing. Use up old workbooks, activity books, colouring books, even pulling out the pages if you find some blank or half filled in workbooks. You can make up your own activity books by using these pages and a stapler. Put crayons or markers into a sandwich bag and also connect it to the book with a staple or a ring, this will help immensely in the car or van.
2. Pack supplies separately.
With any road trip there are long days and there are short days, so for the long days make sure that you have more things in that particular bag.
Since we went on a 5 day road trip I packed 6 different bags filled with colouring books, toys, etc. Check out this vlog to see some examples. I packed 6 bags because the last bag was full of the emergency stuff that came out in the last hour of the road trip, when all other things had been used and thrown on the floor in frustration. Make sure when the kids are done playing with the item that you put it back into a bag and then put it away for the trip back or for another day.
3. Make sure you have novel items that you know they really enjoy.
At the beginning of each day give the kids a new item like a book, or something to colour etc. If they start to act out, or become bored, take a pee or a snack break and try again.
If they really seem bored, bring out a novel item and you should be able to get another hour out of them. I let my kids pick a couple toys that I wouldn’t regularly buy and then saved them for when the started to get squirlley.
4. Use your imagination – or theirs.Distraction is really key when it comes to long road trips. If you find that the kids are melting down ask them to see if they can see a cow, or a certain type of truck, or a some scenery and ask them about it. Kids want your attention on a good day and even more when trapped in a car. Play “I spy”, or make up silly songs, or even get each person to say one sentence of a story and see how long you can go.
Electronics in the car are really great to make it through a rough patch.
We had a rule that the DVD player did not come on until after lunch. We would wake up at 5am and get on the road by 6am. We would have lunch by 1pm and if the kids seemed like they needed a bit of a break we would let them watch a movie that they had never seen before. It worked really well for us. (we also chose movies that we knew they would really like).
Many little towns and big cities have really cool points of interest and really neat playgrounds to check out.
Do your research before hand and see what is available. You could also use the information of the places you visit as a history lesson. Kids love to see these kitchy things and any opportunity to stretch your legs is a good one. Of course, if you are insane like us you may decide just to drive through if your kids are in good spirits. (we went from Calgary, Alberta to Sudbury, Ontario in 2 nights 3 days)
7. When all else fails….
You know your kids best. I bought Jelly Belly’s and gave them out whenever the littlest was having a meltdown. I am not a big fan of candy for a little guy like him, but it distracted him until we made it to the next town.
I also programmed my iPad with games that the kids would like to play. This is a road trip and a vacation and sometimes you just have to think on your feet! We also have stopped at a Walmart to get the kids out and buy a new little lego set – just because we knew that it would keep them happy until the next stop.
This system really works well for us. Another couple tips that I would suggest is pack a lot of snack foods (healthy) and make sure that you feed and water your kids regularly. I gave my oldest son his own cooler and packed it each morning so that he could help himself and I would not have to throw granola bars at him in hopes that he would catch them. (hoping that they wouldn’t fall to the floor)
Speaking of not dropping things on the floor… The last tip I would say is to get some thing for them to put on their lap. We bought the Star Kids Travel Trays and they were really invaluable. I was able to pack all of the items for the day (keeping a couple really special things up front with you.) That way you can also place all the other bags in the seat backs or in the trunk to free up your floor space.
Road trips are a great way to make precious memories for your family. Do you have any tips or tricks that your family does to make it more enjoyable for the whole family?