DISCLAIMER: I have a 5 year old and a 4 year old. If you have a baby or 2 year old, may God bless you in your travels!
Now that summer is here, I feel as if we have spent ZERO time at home on the weekends. We have been busy visiting family and friends, driving all over the states of Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Usually I do not mind a good car ride because it gives me time to clear my mind and step away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. But factor in the same car ride with two very anxious little people; not exactly the same experience.
We try to limit our technology time at home, and car rides are no different. Now DO NOT get me wrong, when we make the 7-8 hour drive to the beach, the DVD player is out and the kids are watching a movie. I am by no means a self-proclaimed miracle worker or toddler tamer. When we have shorter weekend trips that are 3-4 hours long though, we have worked out a pretty good system to keep the kids engaged and entertained.
Strategy is Everything
We normally leave town around lunch on Friday to try and beat the traffic, even though it seems like we are always stuck in traffic somewhere. The positive of departing at this time is that on most occasions, my little ones are still going to get in a short 30-45 minute nap. Usually my daughter is the first to fall asleep, while my son fights a nap with every bone in his body. He normally loses his battle at the same time my daughter is waking up from her nap, and guaranteed the first words out of her mouth once she is awake is “why is this not Disney music?” This is when she is distracted by a snack and juice box that will normally buy me another 20 minutes of happiness and adult music. Once the Bubs wakes up, he gets his snack and we start talking about what music and songs they want to listen to. Our Pandora station of choice is Disney music and I really do not mind it one bit until my daughter asks me to stop singing … No. Fair.
Games For Days
Once the excitement of the music wears off, we are normally a little over half way through our drive and in desperate need of another distraction. This is when the game segment of the car ride commences. We have come up with some games to mix in with the basic “I Spy” to keep the kids occupied. “Guess the Animal” and “Higher or Lower” are favorites that we usually play when we go on long walks, but they are just as useful during longer car rides.
“Guess the Animal” consists of one child secretly choosing an animal and the rest of the family takes turns asking questions to try and discover the animal. Think “Is it a mammal?”, “Does it swim?”, “Does it walk on four legs?”, “Is it a carnivore?”, and the list of questions are endless. Similar to “Guess the Animal,” in “Higher or Lower” one child secretly chooses a number between 1 and 100. The family takes turns guessing the number and they are told higher or lower until someone guesses the correct number. All basic activities, but they keep the kids from asking 1,000 times if we are there yet.
I feel like I will do anything to keep my kids from asking me what number they have to count to before we get to our destination. These activities are enough to get us through the weekend trips of summer, and hopefully they can help another family not LOSE their minds the next time they hop in the car for a summer trip!