While I love a good scroll through Pinterest, I have to admit that often times a big red FAIL could be plastered across my final projects (except this one). And, even when I do feel I’ve successfully copied a Pinterest suggestion, often times, my kids could care less (they are probably used to my FAILS;-). Just a quick example… for our Road Trip to Washington D.C. this past summer, I printed colored scavenger hunts and road games, bought all of our kids’ favorite snacks, made 100 trips to the $1 section at Target, created art packs complete with new crayons, put all of the activities into neatly organized boxes, etc. etc. And you know what the 4-year old did? He talked to us for the 10 1/2 hours, falling asleep only when we were crossing from Maryland into D.C. The clipboards were a hit for a hot minute as was the sheet with all of the fast food restaurant signs that they were supposed to find (I think there were clouds with Happy Meal heaven thoughts in their heads). But, other than that, the boxes quickly became drawing boards and the backseat floor an endless array of spilled crayons and granola bar wrappers.
Jokes aside, we travel with our children a fair amount, both airplane and car ride trips. As much as I would love to think that we give our children ample attention when we are home, there is something about being in a car or plane with us… maybe that enclosed space and lots of time… during which they insist on our undivided attention. And, honestly, this is the time. And, if I stop for a moment (a moment outside of the moment) to really think about it, I am grateful for it. I remember being a teen and driving with my mom for the hour it took to get to the nearest mall, just singing and talking and spending time together. And I remember driving with my dad for over an hour to tag along to his office on days I didn’t have school, talking about what I wanted to be when I grew up and my school activities and books and authors.
So, when I feel bad about not being a supermom and not planning ahead, I just remember my non-Pinterest childhood and how it actually was a-okay. Now, this is not to say that Pinterest doesn’t have fabulous ideas or that I will never try to be crafty, but I’m also choosing not to feel bad if it doesn’t happen either.
That said, here a few of my favorite activities, etc. for travel with our kids:
1) Let’s just start with “dinosaur” bones. This was an inadvertent find during a long lay over in Atlanta this spring. My son came up with this all on his own… We had just finished our chicken wings at Chicken and Beer (we would go again), and the 4 year old grabbed the bones, told us they were dinosaur bones, and then proceeded to spend the next 15 minutes playing with them. (Please keep reading… I promise that the other suggestions are a bit more conventional ;-).
2) Gather “treasures” (aka shells and rocks) on the beach. During quiet time, our kids loved looking at their treasures as well as sorting, classifying, and counting them.
3) Fossil Hunting. Anytime our kids started to complain about walking, my husband would start a fossil hunt, during which they (obviously) searched for “fossils”(aka rocks) on our walk. It completely took their minds off the actual walking part.
4) Tennis Balls. We often bring a tennis ball or two to throw to each other in the pool, on the beach, maybe even sometimes in the airport.
5) I Spy. This is an oldie-but-goodie that was especially helpful on our long road trip this summer. It was great because it was fun for kids (and adults) of all ages.
6) Painter’s Tape. This was a great suggestion from a friend. It is sticky but not tacky. Kids can create with it on the back of seats or you can make hopscotch games, etc. And, fortunately for us, we have had a lot of painter’s tape on hand lately. (Follow along on Instagram Stories for all of the latest with our cabin renovation.)
7) Word and Sound games. The 4 year old and I have been spending a lot of time in the car together lately. We spent about 40 minutes this week playing a game where he would say a word (e.g., r-r-r-r-roof) and then we would try together to come up with as many words beginning with the /r/ sound. He initiated this and would often change the sounds category without warning, but I just let him lead the game (he is nicknamed “The Captain” around our house) and the time flew by. The Captain also loves a good rhyming session. Again, I let him lead and switch the words we are rhyming when he wants in order to minimize frustration, but he really does think it’s one of the most fun things. Surprisingly (or not), the 7 year old also loves these games and is able to institute more sophisticated turns as well. For example, she loves the game where I say a word and ask what it would be if I took off a letter. A simple instance of this is “Bit. What would the word be if I take away the B?” Or, “Bit. What would the word be if I take off the T and replace it with an N?” Actually, the part she loves the most is turning the tables and asking me to solve the word game.
8) Podcasts. Honestly, our kids would rather listen to the soundtrack to LaLaLand than podcasts, but I think I will keep trying with two- the Disney Story Central Podcast and Story Pirates; the podcasts seem to be age appropriate and engaging for both of our children. I also tried the Wow in the World podcast published by NPR, but I think it was a bit over my kids’ heads. The 7-year old probably would have enjoyed it, but when The Captain isn’t entertained, it all quickly becomes a lost cause.
9) iPad games. We have a 7 year old iPad at home that has a volume button permanently stuck on LOUD. However, if we had a better functioning iPad (with an earphone outlet that worked), these would likely be my top contenders for iPad games when traveling (for the 5 and under crowd): Endless Alphabet, Starfall, Monkey Preschool Lunchbox, and Storyline Online (not an app, but a great site).
10) Melissa and Doug. Two of my all time favorite Melissa and Doug products are lifesavers whether you are traveling or just making it through a long winter. The first is this, which is perfect for 3+ year olds. It comes with one marker that cannot write on anything (clothes, seats, furniture, etc) except the pages. And, when your kiddos are finished coloring, there is a seek-and-find feature too. Just think, no markers/80 crayons to dig out from under the seats and no Shout magic needed. Perfection. The second Melissa and Doug product that we love is this. It honestly keeps the kids occupied for an hour. Again, this is something that can easily be done on an airplane or in the car or even at a restaurant. The only risk is that the adults sitting nearby may want to help out.
11) Let your kids be BORED. Tell them to look out the window or make up a story or create their own games. Occasional boredom is good for kids, according to this Psychology Today article, which also makes me feel guilty for not providing enough time for being bored. Ha- I guess you just can’t escape guilty feelings as a parent!
There you have it- my top 11 Lazy Mom suggestions for non-Pinterest travel 🙂
If any of these resonated with you and/or you would like to save this post for later, here is a pin…No, the irony is not lost on me…
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