Ah, kids. Our little treasures. What would we do without them? However much we love them, though, spending hours with our little darlings in a car is no joke. Their incessant chatter and questions – ‘How long till we get there?’ and ‘is it far far away?’ can drive (excuse the pun) you to distraction. But don’t despair, because there are ways to occupy our young ‘uns, whilst keeping us from blowing a gasket (geddit!?) so here are some ideas to try:
Electronic games are not the only answer
As many as 80% of parents admit that they keep their kids entertained by letting them use devices with games and apps loaded. An easy way to relieve car boredom, you might think, but no, it’s not that simple, because kids get bored of playing electronic games quite quickly too. So, it’s a good idea to mix it up. Take plenty of board games, playing cards, colouring books and so on with you.
Drivers of the latest 4x4s have it lucky because their vehicles are equipped with state-of-the-art TVs and PlayStations. Well, lucky for them. Us mere mortals who drive regular cars can instead invest in an in-car DVD player. Some are priced at just under £80, but it’s a good idea to buy a top- or middle-of-range model, as some in-car players disconnect from the cigarette lighter at the slightest bump of a leg or an elbow.
In an interesting study carried out by Disney UK to mark the launch of its new Disney Junior Play app, they asked 5,000 British parents, who had children younger than 10, what they did to keep them happy on a long car journey. Over 50% said they could enjoy about an hour of peace by letting the kids play games using a tablet or other device. By comparison, only 1/5 of parents who travelled without games and apps were able to enjoy the same amount of quiet time.
In our family’s case, on a long car journey, we do exactly as we do at home: the kids play for a limited amount of time on a device and then they join the real world where we talk and sing and play other games – whether they like it or not! Here are 5 fun old-school activities to help pass the time:
- The children are given a sheet of aluminium foil, which they then have to mould, or shape, it into anything they want – a bracelet, a ball, an animal, a crown, a mask, or something creative. It’s a fun and inexpensive way to pass the time. Then we pick a winner – person who’s moulded the most inventive and fun shape.
- See who can spot the most blue, or white, or yellow (or any colour) vehicles on the road, as you travel. Depending on the type of vehicle that’s spotted, award, say, 5 points for a car, 7 for a van and 10 for a lorry, in the colour you’ve agreed to look out for. If you have older children, you can make the game more difficult by setting a time limit and giving each child a different colour to look out for.
- When stopped, or slowed to a crawl in traffic, I developed a game where the kids had to count the number of red (or white) plastic water filled barriers that look like large Lego blocks. These are used for traffic flow and control. If there’s a long stretch – a couple of miles, perhaps – it can keep the kids concentrating and counting for a good long time – awesome!
- This game is one where the children have to keep quiet and listen out for a word. Someone, usually Mum, chooses a word and then gets the children to listen carefully for it on the radio or in an audio book. As soon as a player hears the word they have to shout it out; you can also adapt it for older kids by asking them to spot the written word on road signs.
- The Shopping game: Someone starts the game by saying ‘Mrs Jones went shopping and she bought an apple’ then the next person repeats what’s just been said and adds a different type of food that begins with the letter ‘B’ – like a banana. This goes on until the alphabet is complete. Once you’ve dealt with food, you can always change to countries, animals, and so on.
This is a collaborative post.