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The Three C's to Entertain Kids on the Road

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3 little girls in back seat of car
Keep kids entertained on a road trip

I had someone ask me about a camping trip they were taking with their twin five year-olds. She wanted a few tips on keeping the kids entertained while on a seven hour trip. For most parents this is a nightmare scenario, but with a little planning it could turn out to be a great road trip. All you have to do is keep the three C's in mind - comfort, creativity and connection - to ensure your wee ones are smiley ones.

Every parent knows the importance of ensuring their little ones are comfortable. There is nothing like a long drive to plunge kids into extremes of sugar-high excitement or annihilating boredom, both of which typically end in tears. Road-ready parents take the "first C" - comfort - very seriously. This includes planning regular breaks to ensure the kids are watered, fed and get a healthy opportunity to stretch their legs. Being in new environments can be quite challenging for little ones, so bringing favorite toys and familiar items that remind them of the safety of home can help to calm the wee ones down.

Car time can be fun by introducing the "second C" - creative projects. Some ideas include:

  • Making a travel journal:  Let them have their own disposable cameras for pictures (I would recommend at least two each). Suggest fun snaps along the way, capturing photos that can be used in a family travel journal.
  • Playing road games:  We've all been subjected to endless hours of hideous games on the road. Inject some fun by getting your family to assume a new persona. Perhaps watch a pirate movie before you leave, and have everyone speak like pirates. Your car becomes a pirate ship, the driver is the Captain, and everybody can eat Pirate Booty snacks! All the while telling pirate jokes like: Why couldn't the little kid see the pirate movie? (Because it was rated Arrrrr!)
  • Having eye-spy sticker fun:  Put a twist on old games like eye-spy. Have the kids look for roadside objects that fit a certain description, and award stickers for every correct answer. Eye-spy with my little eye something that has stripes...

Most vacation planning tends to focus on where we want to go and how to get there. Many parents forget that it is the journey, not the destination that counts! This is a magical time to really connect with little ones. Remember the countless "whys" your children use to ask? Well, how about asking them "why"? Why do you like pink popsicles? Why are school busses yellow? Why do daddy's feet smell? You'll be amazed at how the world looks when you're three feet tall.

Five year-olds don't stay five forever! Although a long car journey can seem daunting, with a good planning and the three C's - comfort, creativity and connection - it can be a surefire way to make long trips a trip down memory lane one day.

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