15 Parenting Tricks For Long Trips With Kids
Yep, it's coming up to that time of year again — the family summer vacation. While it's great to have some time off in new surroundings, you have to get there first! Long car rides on jammed highways can be a real drag, especially if you have kids who can't sit still for 5 minutes. And once the whiny "Are we there yets" start, you're often left wondering why you bothered in the first place. So to spare your nerves, we recommend trying the following tricks for a less stressful trip with the lil' ones.
1. Gas Cap
If the kids start acting up during a quick leg stretch at a service area, simply yell: "Keep your hands in the circle!" That way, you'll ensure no one goes missing while your rooting around for something in the trunk.
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2. Surprise Packages
Since children have a different feeling for time than grown-ups, their patience really gets tested. A good way to break up the monotony is to prepare small surprise packages that they can open at different stages of the journey.
3. Trip Countdown
To save the endless questioning, tie a piece of string above the windows on one side of the card and attach milestone cards to it using clothespins. Once you've driven through a milestone, your kids can remove the card from the string. This way, the children have a good idea of how much further there is to go.
4. Highway Bingo
Playing games shortens the journey and helps to prevent travel sickness. "I Spy" is an obvious classic or you could try playing "Highway Bingo." All you need to do is give your kids a piece of paper containing items they need to look out for during the trip. It could be certain color cars, an ambulance, a herd of cows or any interesting sights on the way.
5. Get Moving
Children have a natural urge to move about. This is why you should plan a break every two hours of the trip. Before going away, research service areas on route that have family-friendly parking lots and children's play areas.
6. Seat Protection
If your kids' shoes get dirty during a break, you can protect the front two seats by putting a trash bag over them. Simply place the bag through the poles in the headrest and let it hang over the back of the seat. An old T-shirt will also do the trick.
7. Sick Bags
Some children get car sick. Though distractions might help, this is not always the case. Therefore, it's a good idea to keep a trash bag with a bucket inside the car, so what has to come up can be thrown away easily. You also won't need to rinse out the bucket afterward.
8. Baking Powder
If there's a spill, baking powder works as an emergency aid to combat odors and unsightly stains. First, remove the worst of the dirt and then sprinkle baking powder on top.
9. Magnetic Puzzle
Okay, let's move away from the gross stuff. Using simple materials, you can create your own magnetic puzzles which can be solved on the lid of a tin box during the trip. All you need is some adhesive magnetic tape, the aforementioned tin box, and wooden popsicle sticks.
10. Hanging Organizer
Though intended for closets, hanging organizers also work great on the back of car seats. This way, anything your kid needs is at arm's reach. If you're particularly adept with the sewing machine, you can make your own organizer using an old T-shirt..
Music may not be the best option for long trips as this will get your kids wanting to move. A better idea is to play a movie on the tablet, though we only recommend doing this for the last part of the journey as the little ones might be antsy afterwards.
12. Lego Box
Sometimes, the old classics are the best. Don't forget the Lego box before hitting the road.
13. Filling Gaps
Whether it's toys, pacifiers, or drinking bottles, something is bound to fall through a gap between the child seat and car door. To prevent this from happening, stuff pillows in these gaps.
14. Pacifier Lanyard
Speaking of pacifiers, your life will be so much easier if you attach them to a lanyard. That way, they won't fall to the floor and get dirty.
15. Driving At Night
Some kids fall right asleep as soon as you start the engine, while others need it to be dark before they can nap. In the case of the latter, we recommend driving at night or starting the journey early in the morning. At least then, you'll have a few quiet hours to yourself.
Traveling takes some getting used to. The more long car trips your kids take, the easier it will become for them. We hope these 15 tips will help your vacation get off to a stress-free start!