The only thing more annoying than hearing, “Mom… Mom… Mom… Mommy… Mom… Mama… look at me! Mom… Mommy… Mom” on repeat are the dreaded road trip questions, “are we there yet?” and “how much longer?”
This past weekend, we had an impromptu six-hour road trip (each way) to Northern Ontario for a funeral. With limited notice and time to get ready, I didn’t plan much to keep Taylor, our three-year-old, busy. In a mad dash to remember everything from snacks to clothes, I forgot to load the iPad with new Paw Patrol episodes. We try to avoid extensive amounts of screen time but let’s be honest, this is the easiest solution while on road trips. So, this left us to improvise. Here are a few easy and cost-effective solutions to entertain toddlers in the car.
1. Braiding/Bracelet making (almost 1 hour)
One of the few toys we did manage to bring was a Barbie with long hair. I often braid my daughter’s hair, but she had never tried and to my surprise, she picked it up fast! Barbie’s hair being long enough to braid, but short enough not to get tangled at the bottom really helped her concentrate to learn the pattern. I also separated Barbie’s hair using tiny hair ties to make it easier to identify the three strands.
2. Snack time (25 mins)
Certainly, braiding got old fast after she mastered it. It was the perfect time to bring out some snacks – raisins and Goldfish.
3. Story time (30 mins)
Taylor loves to read… well pretend she is reading. We always have a few books in the seat pocket just in case. She has heard them enough to memorize them, and now “reads” them to us. And when the same old story gets old, we make up our own stories. Jillian Jiggs is no longer trying to sell her pigs; instead, her house was infested with pigs named Skye and Chase.
4. Nap time (1 1/2 hours)
Oh, glorious hours of nap time. I find nap time can be hard in the car, because often not enough energy is used while in the car. Our trick? We stopped at a rest stop equipped with a playground and washroom. After thirty minutes of non-stop running, she was ready to rest.
5. Car Games and songs (about 1 hour)
We played i-spy and song our favourite tv show theme songs (Paw Patrol… again and again). We then moved on to nursery songs she knew and practising counting. We looked for green cars. Surprisingly there isn’t many these days. We then looked for lakes and boats.
6. Whatever it takes (the final two hours)
By this point, she was getting restless. We tried to practice braiding again, but that only last 10 minutes. Then she played with the few Paw Patrol toys and Barbies she brought. But that didn’t last long. I finally caved and let her have my phone use data. Thankfully, I have a large data plan, because she watched YouTube videos of Paw Patrol toys for nearly an hour.
And finally, we made it to our destination. It makes me wonder, how did we survive long road trips as kids? This was a regular drive for my family and somehow we managed without technology. I recall making up silly games (or fighting) with my brothers to pass time.
How do you keep your kids entertained while on a road trip without technology?