It takes a little bit of work for parents these days to be able to keep their children entertained while they are taking long road trips with kids. I remember when I was a child, the only entertainment provided for me on those long trips was my own imagination. I would bring nothing more than a couple of pillows, a transistor radio with headphones, and a couple of books.
You see, back in those days, just about the only entertainment we had in the form of video games was the Atari tennis game with two blips on the opposite sides of the screen that would challenge each other as they chased another little blip that appeared to be a tennis ball. However, the only way to play this game was on a TV screen!
Today, children have so many gadgets at their disposal that they have become a little spoiled when it comes to enjoying the simplest of things. This, in turn, makes it much more difficult for parents to keep their children entertained when they’re taking these long trips.
Here are 5 road trip games for kids to make sure your kids stay distracted and have fun at the same time, so they don’t start saying, “Are we there yet,” 30 minutes into the trip:
1. Make certain your child brings his or her favorite music gadget with earphones. This way, while you are cranking the 70s hits on Sirius satellite radio and singing along to Marvin Gaye’s ‘Sexual Healing,’ they will be in their own world listening to Beyoncé and Justin Bieber.
2. If you have a smart phone, you may want to allow them to download it to particular app games; Plants Versus Zombies and Angry Birds. These are the hottest free games for children as we speak. If you are lucky, these video games all alone will take up two or three hours of their trip before they get tired. Alternatively, they can also use your phone to listen to the free Pandora or iHeartRadio.
3. Pillows, blankets and books. Take their favorite pillows and blankets so they can feel as comfortable as possible. If you are like me and like to crank the AC on a hot sunny day, be mindful of your kids being a little too cold in the backseat. They will be able to easily cover themselves and feel comfortable while they read their favorite book. If they are tired, give them an incentive to rest and fall asleep. Tell them if they close their eyes and snooze for more than 30 minutes, they will get an extra special treat at the next rest stop.
4. Bribe them with toys. Some parents will disagree with this one but it works. Kids have shorter attention spans the they tire far more easily than adults do. Be realistic and anticipate your children getting tired of the drive. Sometimes they will start misbehaving and instead of magically making your arm stretch out 10 feet behind you and giving them a whack on the behind, let them know if they behave, you may spring for a treat and a little toy at the next rest area. Their new toy will hopefully take at least thirty minutes of their time.
5. Sing songs together. Better yet, have them change the words to their favorite songs. For example, instead of singing “Hey There Delilah” just the other day I sang “Hey there Yo Mama” and my kids couldn’t stop laughing and it got the ball rolling, big time! Seventies songs are great for this because many songs had descriptive titles. Think of “Rock the Boat” and sing “Rock the Goat” instead. You get the idea. Whomever comes up with the best lyrics or title gets an extra special treat. This game will last about 30 minutes but you will be busting a gut when it’s over. This will accomplish two things; you will be far more alert while driving and your kids will probably take a nap shortly thereafter.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning to allow your children to watch movies on a DVD player when you take long trips. Even if your vehicle doesn’t have a video/TV screen you may want to consider a long term investment in a good DVD player that you can plug into your cigarette lighter and mount in your car or strap behind your seat. Don’t forget to bring the popcorn!
Family road trips were made for fun. If your kids get a little out of hand and fussy, maintain your composure and remember why you are taking the trip in the first place; to spend quality family time and to create lasting memories.
The last thing you want your kids to remember is how you flew off the handle and spanked their hind ends while pulling your hair out as you waited in line for your Starbucks coffee!