"Are we there YET?" You've heard this for the thirteenth time in three minutes and you're nerves are about to shatter. "No, honey – we're a lot closer now than we were." Then you get the whines and the moans from the back seat. This is something that a lot of people have had to deal with during a vacation or other family trip. Long hours in cars and on airplanes do not mix with small children! They have short attention spans and their little brains are programmed to run, jump and climb like monkeys. They have no desire to sit for several more hours until you reach your destination.
Luckily, there are some things you can do to occupy your small kids during travel. The key is to keep things interesting and fun with them so they don't become bored and restless. One of the things you can do is play games with them. Not only will they love playing the game, but the time spent laughing and playing with Mom and Dad is great. Try the colored car game – just ask them to look for cars of a certain color. Be sure to play along with them too. You can time the game so that the person who has spotted the most cars of a certain color wins.
Another game you can play with your kids is spotting shapes in the clouds. This is perfect for a sunny day with fluffy clouds. See which one can come up with the goofiest shape in the clouds. A great incentive to keep them quiet is to offer a reward at the next stop for snacks or bathroom breaks. Singing is also a great idea on long car and airplane rides. Pick a few of your children's favorite songs and sing them. Try to get the kids involved, taking turns singing the songs in your funniest voices.
Hey, parents…this is a perfect time to sneak in some academic practice. For smaller kids, you can work on shapes, colors and numbers. See if you can have them spot shapes in the road signs, buildings, and other cars. You can quiz them on the colors of the cars and other sights, and even on numbers from license plates or road signs. This is a great way to keep your child occupied and even teach them a thing or two.
One of the all time favorites is telling stories. Rather than boring old stories that will have them fussing or snoring, give them the chance to get in. Take turns making sentences of a story until you've completed one silly, funny or goofy story. Your kids will love doing this with you. There are so many different ways to interact with your children in the car or airplane, and using the ideas and tips above, you should be able to come up with something that will thrill your children. Good luck!