- May 21st, 11:12
1. Bring lots of snacks, and some water. And don't let your child hold on to the water. We stopped 3-4 times each way. It will be a lot more stops if they can drink as much as they want.
2. Have something different to do for every hour of driving. A different game or snack or music. For example one hour my son chose the music, the next hour he chose a game. I was basically agreeing to do whatever he wanted at the start of every hour.
3. Make a playlist of music your child likes. We had two, a short one with songs he loves, and a longer one with his songs plus songs we thought he would like that we also like. None of it was children's songs. You can take turns choosing what is listened to, like each hour a different family member gets a turn.
4. No electronics. No tv, dvd, ds, leap pad. You don't need it.
5. A bag of toys that do not make noises that will annoy you. Keep them right next to your child. At some point you will want a break or not know what to do next. Tell them to pull out the toys and play for awhile. This worked fine until my son got bored and started sticking dinosaurs through my head rest to eat my hair.
6. Be stocked on medications that you might need for you and your child. Dramamine (they make one for kids), tylenol, tums, etc. It will be much harder if you or your child are not feeling well.
7. No candy or sugary snacks/drinks.
8. Be ready to play a lot of games. Read up on ideas, or make up your own. But also set some limits. Like "I agree to play any game you want for 20 minutes and you agree to play any game I want for 20 minutes, then we take a 20 minute break."
9. Be clear on any car rules. Depending on your particular situation they may be to not disturb the one driving, inside voice only, no toys in the front seats, seatbelts stay on, windows stay up.
10. If your child seems sleepy try instituting a rest time. Tell them no one is going to sleep but we are all going to be quiet and have a rest. You can give it a set number of minutes. You can keep the music on. But the idea is no games and not much talking. This is the perfect way for my son to fall asleep in the car, if he is going to.
11. When there is a real convenient rest stop, consider taking it, especially if the next one is real far off, even if your child doesn't have to go. Better to have an easy stop then to be rushing around trying to find one.
12. No books unless you are sure your child does not get car sick.
13. Tell stories to each other. There are many ways to do this. You can each tell a story. You can take turns a few sentences each, or one sentence each. If you are telling a story and do not have any ideas, use a movie or book or tv show as inspiration and tell the basic plot and basic ideas as if it is your own story. I told the entire Avengers movie that way.
14. One time I was really trying to get him to sleep and it wasn't working so I made up the dreaming game. One person pretends to sleep for three minutes. The other person wakes the first person up. Then the first person tells what their dream was. Since dreams can be anything it is a nice way of introducing story telling since there is no right or wrong and crazy things can just happen.
15. Fortunately-Unfortunately. In this story telling game the first sentence (or first turn) starts off with "fortunately" and the next one starts off with "unfortunately". And you just keep going back and forth.
16. Fairy Tale Game. The adult starts telling a fairy story and stops at whatever the conflict is (like stopping when the prince can't get to Rapunzel). Then everyone in the car helps come up with at least 5 different solutions. My rule is they can be anything, practical, silly, magical, but they can not be mean or cruel.
17. Color games. You name a color and the other person has to search outside for it. Other variations would be, find a certain number of the color, like find 4 yellow things. Or find a green, then a blue, then a red. You can also do the game with just cars if the landscape does not offer a lot of color options. My son's favorite thing to do is tell me I have to find 100 purple things. Purple is a very difficult color to find while driving.
18. Color Trucks. Take turns naming the colors of the tractor trailer truck cabs.
19. Make a list games. Name 15 things that walk on four legs. Name 10 things in the kitchen. Name 20 things that are blue. Name 5 things that fly. The sky is the limit with these. Work on them together or take turns.
20. Guess the animal. One player thinks of an animal and tells everyone what letter it starts with. Players ask yes or no questions until someone figures out the animal.
21. Read the signs as they go by. Or have your child read the signs. If your child can't read yet, have them read the number signs. Or count the milemarkers. That is one of my son's favorite things to do is notice the mile markers as they go by.
22. Make up games based on things you see. It doesn't have to be super creative. It just has to be something that takes time to do. Because that's what you have, lots of time. We made up a game where we pretend something is wrong with a person and have to go to the hospital, but the hospital makes a mistake and does something crazy to the person. Like "He went in to the hospital with a broken arm, but he came out with an extra hand." And then everyone makes lots of silly jokes about how crazy that is and it is the next person's turn.
23. Would You Rather. Take turns giving two choices for something. Again they could be real things, or silly, or crazy. Would you rather be an astronaut or a zoo keeper. Be a super hero who is invisible or can fly. Eat only ice cream for the rest of your life or chocolate. Be a tree or a flower. Explain why you chose your answer.
24. Alphabet. Take turns coming up with a word for each letter of the alphabet. First person starts with A is for, next person does B, and so on.
25. Another game we made up was Crazy Store. One person is the shopkeeper. The other comes to the store and asks for a particular item, like a toaster. The shopkeeper then tells you about the different toaster options and all of them have funny extras. Like one might have a button to cook any food you want, or print money, or become a light if your lights go out, or clean for you.
26. Counting-Rhyming Song. A changable song that teaches counting to 100 and rhyming. You sing (or just say if you are not into singing) 1-2-3-4, then make up a sentence where the last word rhymes with 4. Go all the way to 100. Example, "1-2-3-4, who's that knocking on the door, 5-6-7-8, I don't want to be late." Some numbers are hard to rhyme with, just be silly about it, like "9-10-11-12 come meet my friend Melve"
27. Sing other songs in silly ways. Take turns changing words to a favorite song. Use different animals for Old MacDonald. Or don't use animals at all, use other things that make noise. Songs with rhyming are always fun to change the words to see what your child comes up with.
28. Discussion topics. Try to have some topics on hand that you know a lot about that you think your child would enjoy learning about. Dinosaurs, space, different types of jobs, how things are different now than they were when you were a child. My father was in the car with us so we talked about my son's, mine, and my dad's childhood and how they were different and why they were different.
That's everything I can think of that we've used for this last, longest ever, car trip. As well as some ideas from previous car rides. We take a 5 hour car ride every year so we've had some practice. Please share any other ideas you might have, I'm always looking for more!