Well, I feel like this post warrants a tiny bit of background info. My family just returned from a trip to Colorado two days ago. I have three children ages five and under, and the drive was more than 10 hours. We drive a Toyota Camry, so all the car seats are shoved in the back well within pinching distance of one another and here’s the kicker: We didn’t use a single screen.
I don’t include that last sentence in order to guilt anyone; you do what you have to do and I will never judge a fellow mama embarking on a long road trip. But I include it to encourage you that it is possible if screen time is something you’re worried about.
So, here are a few things that saved our sanity:
- Books on CD. I went to the library and reserved several books on CD. I used Sarah Mackenzie of Readaloud Revival’s list of First Chapter Books as a reference point. My kids particularly enjoyed “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” and “The Mouse and the Motorcycle.” If your library has access to the Overdrive app, you can get audio books on your phone!
- Plain old picture books. I brought a giant bag of 20+ picture books for the kids to peruse. I even read some from the front seat, but I tried to space them out as a treat because, let’s be honest, I did NOT want to be reading the entire drive. So, I let them take turns picking books every hour or so.
- Clipboards and construction paper. We actually purchased two clipboards with storage (similar to this one). Each kid got their own and was able to decorate it however they wanted. They put construction paper and markers and crayons inside. They were able to have designated “drawing time” so as to fight off the boredom monster as much as possible. I checked out a few, “how to draw” books from the library. Since we were going to Colorado, I found a drawing book that specifically had animals that we would see like antelope, bighorn sheep and bison.
- Regular stops. I know some families prefer to power through, but that’s not us. We tried to stop about every hour and a half for restroom breaks and, on those breaks, we would explore as much as we would (within ten minutes or so) and I would even have the kids race each other or try and find something “interesting” which was typically a rock or a stick.
I can honestly attest to these tips and we really didn’t have a lot tantrums or fits. My husband said to me several times, “They are doing so well!”
What are some tips you would add to surviving long car rides with little people?
Kara Garis is a cloth diapering, baby wearing, semi-crunchy mama to two active boys and a baby girl. She lives with her husband in Oklahoma and loves running, cooking, traveling, reading and teaching herself how to braid. She blogs at karagaris.com.