Are we there yet?

The holidays are rolling around again, and it's time to figure out how to keep the kids busy as you drive to see your families. Whether it's only an hour or two or most of the day, traveling can be a very boring experience for children.

How you handle it can depend on the ages of your children. No matter their ages, you need to take into account your children's interests.

Infants are pretty easy, relatively speaking. Personally, I prefer to travel at night with an infant, so that you don't have to stop to feed them. If your baby sleeps through the night, you can probably have a peaceful trip, although you'll probably need a nap when you get to your destination. If you just can't stand traveling overnight, plan to make plenty of stops. Make sure your schedule is very flexible, so if you have to stop a little or a lot you don't feel pressured.

Night travel can work well for toddlers as well, but daytime trips can be a lot of fun too. Some toddlers travel very well. Bring plenty of soft toys. I suggest bringing some that your toddler doesn't use all the time, so that they are something of a treat and a little more intriguing. Make sure your stops have at least a place for your toddler to run and stretch his or her legs. Ten minutes is plenty for a stretch.

As your kids get older, try to interest them in the trip itself. When we traveled from San Diego to Sacramento as kids, a 500 mile trip, my mother used to draw a rough map on the window using a wax pencil, and number 1-10 along it, so that she could tell us where we were. We loved asking where we were. Find out if there are any interesting places to stop along the way for short periods.

Personally, I don't like the idea of bringing a DVD player and just having the kids watch movies for the entire drive, but that is certainly one option. There are plenty of games that can be played in the car, from challenging each other to spot a landmark or item to board or card games. Don't try to use anything that will spill or has too many small pieces, or you might cause more aggravation when something is lost.

No matter the age of your children, you should keep your schedule as flexible as possible and try to enjoy the trip. Holiday trips should be a good experience for all involved.

 

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Copyright © 2003-2017 Stephanie Foster unless otherwise indicated

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