‘Tis the season for family road trips!
A mindful parent holds the secret to make these trips epic.
How? By doin’ a lil’ something called…planning. Awww Yeah. With a wink of the eye, we can whip out something to soothe the souls of our captive audience.
>> #1 Rule: Pack Snacks. Having your energy drop during a road trip is the worst, and it rarely happens to everyone at once. So keep their favorite healthy treats handy. Reuse old containers and pop in some peanut butter with cut carrots and celery, trail mix, or frozen cut grapes.
>> Plain paper and crayons go a long way. From a game of Hangman, to “guess what I am drawing now”, to writing one line of a story then passing it around for others to add to it until someone writes ‘the end,’ a plain piece of paper means endless possibilities. Google directions for making origami or paper airplanes. After the games and stories are finished, that paper is still useful.
>> Pick up a good ol’ fashioned, free map at the welcome center or rest stop. Let the kiddos doodle on the route. Ask questions about the scale of it versus the miles you’ve driven. Check out parks and historical places to plop for lunch. Afterwards, use that paper for more planes or a paper hat.
>> Pack a frisbee or a ball to toss around anywhere and everywhere you land. A few jump ropes do the trick too, even in snow, but beware of any ice.
>> Download an audiobook from your local library. Select something out of the box like a mystery for all to guess the ending or an old classic from your childhood days. Try some poetry by Shel Silverstein or a collection of voices. Your carload could even learn a new language.
>> Check out new books at the library for everyone—if reading in the car works for you and yours without car sickness. Comic books, travel guides, or a book on picking the perfect fantasy football team make the miles full of smiles.
>> Skip the fidget spinners and go old school. Bring along homemade play dough, pipe cleaners, and cardboard pieces with pre-punched holes and yarn to thread in and out. Use the yarn to make bracelets, yarn balls, hand knit scarves, or try a Cat’s Cradle. Remember those?
>> If you can play a movie, check out or download something totally new to the kids. Enjoy an old TV series like: “Leave it to Beaver,” “The Brady Bunch,” “Gilligan’s Island,” “The Howdy Doody Show,” “I Love Lucy,” “Happy Days,” or “Schoolhouse Rock,” that are entertaining and still relevant today. These shows have kick-started conversations and laughs that I would never have dreamed of having with my kids while driving somewhere.
>> Get silly. Use the pipe cleaners to make a wild hairdo. Teach pig latin, Johnny Whoops, or have a thumb war.
>> Make “gifts” for each other out of random items collected outside or from items in the car. Have each person tell the rest of the car what it is and why they’ve decided to create and/or gift it.
>> Play this is not a____, but a ____.
Examples: This is not a ski hat, but a bread basket (or a monster’s sock, a lampshade, …anything besides what it really is). Pass the object around and around until the ideas stop. The last person picks up a new thing for round 2.
>>Make a playlist that all will enjoy. These collections are by artists the grown-ups dig and the kids don’t even know it: “Snacktime” by the Barenaked Ladies, “Here Come the ABCs” by They Might Be Giants, “Curious George” by Jack Johnson, “Family Time” by Ziggy Marley, or “Saturday Morning Cartoon’s Greatest Hits”. One of my family’s favorites is “For the Kids” by various artists with Cake’s version of “Mahna Mahna.”
Wherever you go and whatever you do, may peace be with you.
May your carload have so much fun that they all start singing,
“On the road again, just can’t wait to get on the road again.” ~ Willie Nelson.
Have other suggestions to keep road trips rockin’? We’d love to hear from you.
Author: Katie Fleming
Image: YouTube still
Editor: Jen Schwartz
Copy Editor: Travis May