It is almost that time of year that most of us have been longing for since our first day back at work in January… December holidays! For those of us with kids, we know that something as fun and exciting as going on vacation can be quite challenging when kids get bored on the road. We are all familiar with the question: “Are we there yet?!”
To help with relieving the tension on the trip and avoiding getting on each other nerves, here are a few simple tricks and tips to keep your youngsters happy and busy, to help start and end your vacation as relaxing as it is going to be spending time at the beach.
Make sure they are comfortable
For older children it will be easy to adjust the way they sit and grab a pillow to get comfortable, but for infants and toddlers that are still restrained to car seats for their own safety this is almost impossible since they can’t move around much.
To improve their comfort, make sure that the car isn’t loaded with too many things in the passanger seat. For the older children, make sure that they have enough leg room and space to sit. For the youngsters who still need to sit in their car seats, use some of the extra luggage to build some support to rest their legs on, because let’s face it, sitting with your legs hanging down with no support for hours on end is not fun at all!
A good suggestion is to put the cooler box under their feet with a pillow on top. In this way the little ones can also stretch out and get comfortable, especially when they fall asleep.
Make sure that you have some screens on the windows to protect them from sunlight but make sure they do not restrict the driver’s ability to see. Car seats can make them feel hot very quickly too, so make sure the car is cool enough at the back.
Stop often to rest and let them walk and run around a bit. Even though they aren’t driving, they also get tired and need to stretch their legs.
Pack a bag of their favourite toys
All children, no matter how old, have favourite toys or items that they like to keep themselves busy with, but we also know in times that you rely on it the most, they no longer find it entertaining. It might be a good idea to go look at the bottom of their toy boxes and pack some old favourites that they have forgotten about (but do so in secret to surprise them when they get bored with their current favourites).
Pack some favourite snacks
Eating snacks can be a great way to pass the time, but be sure to pack healthy snacks and keep sugary treats to a minimum. The last thing you want is children with a sugar rush that are constrained in the back of the car!
Bring along some creative activities
Some children love to colour and draw, but it is difficult to do so in the back of a car without any support for the colouring or drawing books. A fun idea is to take a kitchen tray with for each child to work on. It should be big enough for their activity book and their crayons and pencils, but not too big for them to handle. One that has slight edges will prevent their crayons and pencils from falling to where they can’t reach and avoid frustration.
Play some games
There are many travel board games available on the market that are easy to manage in the car, but classic games like “I spy”, can be just as much fun. The driver can also play along, and it won’t take up any space in the car.
With the older children you can play maths games by, for instance, adding up the numbers on other cars’ licence plates, or you can make words or sentences with the letters on the licence plates.
For younger children who can’t read yet, let them count how many blue and red cars they see on the road.
Sing along to the whole family’s favourite songs
Singing songs in the car can be lots of fun. Either bring your favourite music and sing along to that, or sing songs that the children know very well. Everyone can take turns picking a song that they like to sing.
Catch up on what you might have missed out on during the year
We all know how crazy our schedules can get during the year, which often causes us live in our own separate directions and miss out on interesting things that happen. Make use of the time in the car to tell each other some stories or to tell jokes. Several hours in the car can be quality family time.
Bring in some reinforcements with technology for that last stretch
Making use of all these tips and tricks can be all good and well, but we also know that the last stretch of a trip tends to be the hardest and longest. None of us really want our children to be slaves to technology, but when nothing else works, taking out the tablet and letting them play a game or watch a movie can be very helpful to get through that last hour and will do no harm!