The plans were made, the bags are packed, and out the door we go. Off to Great Grandma’s house. You may think, awesome, we have left the house so now I can relax. But, with our three very active boys, if we do not have a plan to keep them busy, then they find things to do. Oh just imagine what three boys can come up with when they are bored. Spit balls, wrestling, and everyone’s favorite, saying over and over again “Are we there yet?”. So how are we going to keep three, very active, kids happily busy? In short, we keep things new and interesting.
Just like packing for the trip, going on the trip takes planning and organizing. I know, I know, you thought you had it covered when you finished packing. But, trust me, this planning is totally worth it. So let me share some of the tricks that help keep our kiddos happy on long car rides, and ultimately us adults relaxed.
Make Them Comfortable
- We try, the best we can, to separate our kids in the car. Giving them breathing room helps to keep them comfortable and keep them from fighting.
- Give them a small pillow, blanket and a favorite stuffed animal. They are more apt to fall asleep if they are comfortable, which means quiet for you.
- For little kids who can’t reach the floor yet, put their travel bag under their feet. This gives them a foot rest, keeping them comfortable, and as an added bonus, makes more room in the car.
When the kids are hungry or thirsty, they are crabby. Having crabby kids makes everyone crabby, and that can ruin the fun. So, our first stop after heading out on the road, is to a gas station to top off. We also load up on snacks and drinks while we are there. This ultimately saves time and money by limiting our stops along the way.
- Buy enough snacks for both the ride there and back home.
- Bring a cooler if it is summer, so drinks can stay cold.
- Buy treats that only are allowed on big trips. By doing this, the kids are even more excited to sit in the car on the ride, since they know they get their special treats.
For our family, tablets are the way we go. It is each kids all-in-one entertainment device. Before we had tablets, we had lots of other devices we would bring along for the ride. Some of which only came out on long car rides. Even though saying bring electronics sounds simple, I have a few tricks that makes those well used tablets seem new.
- Before going on the trip, sit down with each kid and pick out some new apps.
- Make sure each kid has their own headphones. This way they can listen to the annoying app music and you don’t go crazy.
- Download a movie or two to their tablet. If you don’t have tablets, bring along a portable DVD player with some movies the kids have never seen, or their favorites.
- Download some new music to their playlists. Go for it, pick out songs you would never want to listen to…they have headphones.
- Bring along charger extension cables for each kid. This way, when their device goes red, chaos doesn’t ensue. Even if the only plug is in the front, the cables will reach to the back seat. Then there is no down time while the device charges. If you haven’t seen these, they have a USB female end, and a USB male end, so this will only work with chargers that have detachable cables. Check at your local electronics store, and buy a bunch.
If you have little, little kids, bring along a Goody Bag. I would go to the local dollar store and pick out a few new toys. Add some of their favorite picture books, a few forgotten about toys from home and a clipboard with blank paper, a coloring book and crayons. When I was a kid, my Mom would do this for me (since back then we didn’t have lots of portable electronics). It was always a joy to find out what my new surprise trip toys were.
So there you go, some of our time-tested, kid approved ways to keep the chaos at bay, and ultimately keep you sane. Remember, Happy Kids = Happy Ride . Do you have any tips for keeping kids busy along the ride? I’d love to hear them! Comment below and start some conversation.