How to Keep Children Entertained on Long Car Journeys
Accompanying the Easter Holidays is normally the inevitable long car journeys. Whether you are visiting grandparents who live across country or embarking on a week-long holiday in the UK, there is often no alternative but to grit your teeth and take on the traffic jams, road works and bad weather conditions that are a common feature of a half term long-distant drive.
Throw into this mix bored children and car journeys can become a parental nightmare. Unfortunately there is not a lot you can do about the traffic jams, road works and weather, but keeping children entertained during the drive will go a little towards making the whole process slightly more bearable.
Alright, so this is easier said than done. Stopping children from getting bored while stuck indoors on a rainy day can prove hard enough, but keeping them entertained while constrained by a seatbelt and unable to move from their car seat can seem virtually impossible.
At times like these you can find yourself daydreaming about owning a shiny, state-of-the-art, spacious 4×4, complete with built-in DVD players; before confronting the reality of the aging but practical people carrier; complete with scratched paintwork that is parked in your drive.
Still, even without a luxury car, there are many simple ways to keep your children entertained during the journey. Here are six inexpensive and easy ideas to get you started:
Do you remember counting all the blue cars when you were a child? Perhaps you played eye-spy instead, or looked out for all new registration plates? Whatever games you used to play, consider playing them again – not only are they a tried-and-tested entertainment, but are also simple and cost nothing to do.
Do your children have a favourite storybook? If so, invest in buying the audio versions of these books. Additionally buying CDs full of nursery rhymes will help keep young children occupied because even if they are too young to sing along properly, they will recognise many of the songs from nursery.
Puzzles, colouring books and magazines
Take along a bag full of puzzles, colouring books, crayons and age appropriate magazines. Just remember that the trick with this method is timing; don’t bombard them with too many activities at one go, instead leave them to get on with colouring, for example, then when they start getting restless bring out a puzzle for them to do.
However good your intentions were before having children, we all know that the practicalities of parenthood override ideal notions of snacking. By keeping a stash of (healthy) snacks and drinks handy, but out of reach and sight of your children, will help when they start to get tired and hungry.
Again, not ideal but on very long journeys taking along a portable DVD player can help to keep your own sanity, not to mention stop the kids from getting bored. Feature-length animated films like Madagascar and Happy Feet will usually keep children occupied for an hour or so.
Even adults can get fed up and tired being stuck in the car for too long, so it is no wonder that children struggle. It is advisable that after every two hours you take a break, even if it is just to give you a chance to stretch your legs and go to the toilet. Also regular stops will break up the journey, helping to make it more enjoyable.
Whatever your reason for embarking on a long car journey this half-term, just by making the trip seem an exciting and fun adventure that is packed full of activities and entertainment will help to prevent the tantrums, tears and dreaded cry of ‘are we nearly there yet?’ that accompany so many family trips.
Written by Derin Clark