Friday, August 15, 2014

Road Trip! How to Keep Your Toddlers Occupied Without a Tablet or DVD Player

by Phoebe Farag Mikhail

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Twelve hours. Two kids, one 4 and one 2. A minivan with no working DVD player. How did we do it without pulling our hair out or regretting the trip for the rest of our lives? Here is how:

1- Leave in the morning or early afternoon. Leaving in the morning, right after breakfast, means we can enjoy a quiet ride about 3-4 hours later when the kids fall asleep. Leaving in the early afternoon means the kids will likely take their nap right away, giving us an hour or two of quiet on our way. The problem with leaving in the evening is that the kids will nap again and keep you up when you most need to rest - upon arrival!

2- Let them be. Sometimes we don't need to do much to entertain the kids on a long car ride, especially if we leave during the day (see #1). I am glad the DVD player in the minivan doesn't work - they just don't expect to be entertained in that way, and so they figure out their own ways. Sometimes, they just look outside the window and enjoy the scenery.

3- Bring along "lift a flap" books. These books are fun, interactive, and can occupy a preschooler and a toddler for at least 15 to 20 minutes when they are strapped into their carseats and have no other choice. Other toys that help include quiet finger activities, like threading/lacing toys, and mess free drawing boards like this one:

4- Bring along healthy snacks so you don't have to pay premium for them at rest stops. Use rest stops to walk around and get the wiggles out before getting back into the car for a few more hours. Keep eating light to prevent carsickness.

5- Sing songs, and play colors or "I spy" games. CDs with favorite songs can also help, if they don't drive you crazy. Sometimes having conversations about where we are and where we are going can be fun and educational.

What are some ways you have occupied toddlers on long drives? Share your tips in the comments below!