My kids spend a decent amount of time in the car each week. I don’t know about your family, but for us, we often spend at least 30 minutes driving to different activities in the city or just picking up all of our kids for the day.
Sometimes we are heading to practice or running errands, sometimes we are waiting in the car while one parent runs into the store and the other stays in the car. Of course, I do talk to my kids about how their day was, but sometimes they just want to sleep or look out the window and not be entertained. Below are ideas for the other times:
1. Play family car games, such as the “Hey Siri” game: My sons came up with this game. One person will pretend to be the virtual assistant and then everyone else asks that person questions. The person that is it has to answer the questions just like Siri would.
2. Watch or listen to a book from the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County online. I cannot say enough wonderful things about this website and our awesome library system. You can watch or listen to some virtual books instantly, while others, you do have to request and put a hold on a few days in advance. Some of our favorite books to listen to and watch from the website are “There Was an Old Lady That Swallowed a Fly” by Simms Taback, “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive The Bus” by Mo Willems, and “Duck for President” by Doreen Cronin.
3. Listening to kids podcasts. I will have to admit, usually, the thought of listening to podcasts is lost on me. Although I consider myself quite the technology nerd, listening to podcasts is something I often forget about. A fellow parent mentioned “Stories Podcast.” This podcast retells new and old fairy tales. I recently looked up this podcast and it is only the beginning of all of the childrens’ options for podcasts. I am excited to really look into this further when we travel more this summer.
4. Have a family sing-along! We often do this one of two ways: Either we sing acapella when we are practicing songs such as “The Alphabet Song,” or we listen to songs from the Kidz Bop playlist on Amazon Prime. If you do not have Prime, there are several different options that you can use such as: playing music via youtube, Pandora, or if you don’t have a smartphone/data package, you can also borrow children’s music cds from the Cincinnati Library.
5. You can have a family dance party (with your seatbelts on, of course). We recently learned of the website/YouTube Channel, “GoNoodle.” Some of our favorites are “Milkshake” or “Roller Coaster” by Koo Koo Kanga Roo. There is nothing more fun that singing about a mozzarella pizza in a British accent.
6. Allow kids to play with electronic toys in the car. Another mom friend introduced me to this idea as well. Every so often, I will buy a few electronic educational toys from “Once Upon a Child” that normally cost $8 or less. These toys stay in the car all the time unless I am alternating toys. Most of our car toys either tell a story, help my kiddos practice the alphabet, or go over things such as shapes and colors. The kids look forward to these toys because they only occasionally get to use them in the car, and I like them when I am looking for a quieter option than listening to something on the stereo.
7. Keep car toys in the car. Similar to the electronic toys, these are toys that do not leave the car or are rotated. What has worked well with our younger ones are little cars or animal figurines. From the back, I can often hear my three-year-old making the dinosaur stomp and roar through the pretend jungle in the back seat.
8. Have kids play with “Quiet Books.” If your children do not currently have any quiet books, you can get an endless supply of ideas on how to make them by doing a search on “Pinterest.”
9. Allow the kids to have their snack time in the car. I know that some people do not allow their kids to eat snacks in the car, but in my family, it is something that we are ok with. Our favorite way to give kids snacks is to give them a Snackeez cup – there is a little snack cup that sits on the top of the drink next to the straw. This is a great option, especially for little hands, because they only have to hold one item rather than a snack and a drink. We often put water and goldfish in them, but if I know that the kids will be drinking them quickly, I have also done milk and fruit loops.
10. Allow kids to bring their favorite stuffed animal and have a car blanket for them. When we know that the kids will be out a bit past their bedtimes and not so close to home (hello family parties in Liberty Township), we often have our kids change into their jammies before they leave the party. And in the car, their favorite stuffed animal and a small favorite blanket are waiting for them. Our kids will often snuggle with their lovies on the way home and when we get home, they are usually calm or asleep and ready to be carried to bed.