Friday, 6 July 2018

How We Entertain Young Children On Road Trips



Travelling with the boys is one of our favourite things to do as a family, and thanks to the perks of my jobs we tend to do a fair bit of it...particularly around the UK.

But although we love seeing new places and exploring together as a family, I have to admit...I do always feel a little bit of dread when it comes to the car journey itself, as travelling long distances with a 5 year old, 3 year old and 2 year old in the back can be tricky!

The main issue we have is that if they're allowed to get bored...then they inevitably end up fighting, and with 3 of them - there's no such thing as putting enough distance between them to stop them taking a swipe at each other! Which means headaches for us!

So the key is to keep them busy!

I've spent many an hour googling ideas for entertaining children on car journeys but the suggestions are always things that are either too far beyond my boys years (Ever tried playing I Spy with a two and 3 year old who don't know their letters yet?!) or are activities which sound like great fun in theory...like colouring for example....but end up being more of a headache when they keep dropping pens and whining for you to pull over and retrieve them!

I have to admit, I've made a few mistakes with the games I've introduced them too...it seemed like such a fun idea at the time to inform my 5 year old about my preferred travel game of choice from childhood...Mini Punch! (Anyone else play that?! It basically involves punching your sibling in the arm whenever you see a Mini, and shouting "MINI PUNCH!"...It's very sophisticated....) but of course, I soon learned the hard way that those games are NOT FUN when you're the parent in charge of consoling the sibling who's just been thumped!

So instead, I thought I'd share with you some of the ways we keep our boys entertained which don't involve things you can easily drop and don't require knowledge of phonics or spelling to play!

1) The Yes/No Game

This is a firm favourite on our travels, for some reason all of the boys find it absolutely hilarious - even Sailor, who doesn't quite get what's happening, still finds it hilarious and laughs along with the rest of us when someone messes up!

The game is simple, and was actually taught to me by my own parents during long car journeys, the object being that someone asks the player a series of questions and the player tries to answer without saying the words Yes or No...simple, but so funny to play...especially with little ones!

2) Ghost Stories!

Or regular stories work well too, but my children are pretty ghoulish for their ages and they all LOVE a ghost story...even the 2 year old loves making them up!

 We take it in turns during car journeys to each make up a short spooky story, and the boys love it - between the 5 of us having a turn each, it can easily pass an hour of a car journey and it keeps them nice and calm too. We often use the sights we see out of the window as ideas for our stories, such as spooky looking churches we pass and so on.

Another story game that's a big hit is the Two Lines game - where one of us starts off a story, telling 2 lines of it, and the next person carries it on. We say a couple of sentences each before moving on to the next person to continue the story...the boys think this is great fun and the sillier the story, the better!

3) 80's Toys!

We recently re-discovered some of my own favourite activities from car journeys such as Water Hoopla, Rubix Cubes and Tamagotchis and the boys, Tyne in particular, have really been enjoying them.

4) Travel Edition Games

This is one we've only started trying recently, and they do come with that risk of something being dropped mid-journey but the main one we tend to play is Guess Who and we play it a little differently than it's intended to be played.

Because my eldest is obsessed with becoming a police officer when he's older, we play the game as a "Catch The Criminal" kind of thing - so he holds the mini Guess Who board, and I have the cards in the passenger seat with me. I choose a "Criminal" and he goes through the process of eliminating "suspects" from the board until he figures out who the crook is.
 It means we don't need to mess around with having both boards out, and there's less risk of things being dropped...it also makes it easier to play at his age given that he can't read the names yet!

5) If all else fails, screen time isn't so bad!

I do try to avoid screen time on long car journeys if I can, not because I'm massively opposed to it but more because I think they get enough screen time as it is and I'd rather they didn't miss out on the sights during the journey...and also because I think it's actually a good thing to allow children to get a little "Bored" sometimes without always needing a screen, because that's when their imaginations kick in.

But if you're struggling with antsy kids on a long road trip, then by all means - use a screen if it will help! It's not the end of the world.

The only problem can be the issue of not being connected to the internet so the usual tablets don't always work, instead we do have a portable DVD player that the younger boys like to watch a Disney movie on sometimes and Tyne has a Nintendo DS which helps to keep him entertained too!

If you're planning a road trip with children soon, I do hope these tips are useful. And don't forget to make sure your car insurance covers you for the journey - Aviva are fantastic for providing real peace of mind on your travels, offering uninsured driver car and vehicle recovery too.

I hope these tips have been useful, I'd love to hear your own tips for keeping children entertained during car journeys - please do share them in the comments below!

*With thanks to Aviva for partnering with us on this post

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