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Saving Your Sanity: Keeping Your Kids Occupied In The Car

Nov 15, 2007
Even in these days of MP3 players and portable DVD players, keeping kids occupied during long car rides can still be a challenge. After a few hours of songs and movies, the plaintive cries of "We're bored!" and "How much longer?" and "I'm hungry!" start to drift from the back of the vehicle. Prepare to combat the two biggest challenges - hunger and boredom - and you can transform your trip to one that's fairly quiet and peaceable.

Munchie attack!

For each child, prepare several brown paper lunch bags, each containing a snack and a drink. Have one bag per child for every 1.5 to 2 hours that you will be on the road. You can customize the bags to your child's tastes or simply choose several different combinations.

After you fill the bags, roll down the tops and tape them shut. Label the bags with the children's names. Place all the bags in an insulated cooler bag or cooler. You can quickly and easily distribute snacks as needed. The added surprise of the kids not knowing what is in each bag gives the kids something to look forward to.

Bored No More

Battling boredom is a snap. Gather some more brown paper bags - one for each hour of car time. You do not need one bag per child, just one for each half-hour. Fill each bag with an activity that you can complete in about thirty minutes. When children start complaining about boredom, hand them a bag!

One classic family favorite is License Plate Bingo. Here's what you do:

Make up several bingo cards for each child using the name of a state on each card instead of numbers. Give your children each a card and a washable marker. As kids find the matching license plate on a car as on their card, they mark off the appropriate box on their card. The first one to get bingo wins! Prizes can be candy, a small toy from the dollar store or even a dollar that can be spent once you reach your destination.

Games such as these keep kids today as entertained the same way they did children of generations past. By keeping the activities limited to a half hour, you will keep the kids interested and enthusiastic.

If you are going on a very long trip - one that will take more than a day - you may want to consider a larger surprise that will keep the kids busy longer. Do they love their Game Boys? You could buy a new game for each child but make sure it is one enjoyed by others too, so the kids can share.

Allow kids to play the new game for a time. When the time is up, everyone must pass his or her game to the right.

With a little bit of planning and creativity, you can save your sanity during long car trips with the family. You may even fid that you enjoy the trip as much as you enjoy the actual vacation!
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