This weekend we are attending a family wedding in Alabama. In order to save money, we decided to drive to Alabama rather than fly. As much as I love my children, I will admit that I am not exactly thrilled about spending between 11 and 13 hours in the car with them.
I actually wondered if hearing, “Mom! Jaden won’t stop chewing” and “Mom! Jacob is looking at me!” for hours on end was worth the $1600 in plane tickets. In the end, I decided to endure what can only be a nice fun family car ride. Right?!
I did however, come up with ways to make our car ride more bearable.
First, we need electronics. We need them. I often wonder if I’m doing my children a disservice by letting them play their iPads to keep them occupied during things like grocery shopping, doctor’s visits and long car rides. Then I think about how one of them might actually throw the other one out the car door if it wasn’t for those games.
In my defense, our household rule is that iPads are not allowed to be played during the week and are only allowed on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
The iPads are coming with us for everybody’s sanity.
Next, I plan on bringing some books to make the car ride more bearable. I have always been a huge reader myself and I am lucky that my kids also love to read. I always try to encourage reading whether it is a book, magazine, newspaper or comic book.
A long car ride is the perfect opportunity for a new book and my kids love picking one out. They enjoy picking out a new book at the store or library for a long car ride. And my older son usually downloads a book onto his Kindle.
I also bring game books that will help keep my children occupied. I get the books where you have to find the difference between two pictures for my younger son and a word find or Sudoku book for my older son. Another fun thing to do is to time your child on each page. See if they can beat that time on the next page.
There are so many websites that have great resources and printables for long car rides. I plan on printing out a travel bingo to keep us busy. Bingo is fun for both kids and adults and usually has pictures of items you would see when traveling by car such as a tree, road sign, truck, cow, gas station, etc.
I plan on bringing a few treats for when someone wins. Also, before we leave for a long car ride, I make little slips of paper that say “Turn this paper in at 11:30 to mom for a special treat.” The kids love trying to be good until the specified time to get their treat. I usually make the time on the paper for a couple of hours after we’ve been in the car so they have fun guessing what the treat will be and trying to turn it in at the exact time.
I usually make three or four different papers with different times so they have something to look forward to the whole ride.
Another great option for long car rides are family games! We’re all going to be stuck in the car together so we might as well have some quality family game time. We love playing games like 20 questions or the ABC game where you have to find each letter of the alphabet on a sign during your drive.
It’s also fun to take turns making up a story or telling a story together by taking turns adding a sentence.
I’m hoping that between iPads, books, games, and treats, there will be enough stuff to keep my kids occupied on the long car ride and keeping the fighting to a minimum.
I also do not realistically expect to get to Alabama without lots of stops. I don’t think keeping all of us cooped up in the car for as long as possible just to get to Alabama as fast as possible is a very good idea. There will be many potty breaks, breaks to stretch our legs and food stops. And that’s okay with me. My kids have a hard time being cooped up and staying still for long so I’m all about frequent stops. We’ll see if my husband agrees.
Three more days and we’re off on our road trip to Alabama. Wish me luck!
Do you have any tips for ways to keep kids occupied on long car rides?