It’s almost the summer holidays! A time when almost every family experiences being packed into a car for hours on end. Visiting relatives, going to the beach, escaping for a weekend camping… whatever the reason, the dilemma is the same. How to keep the kids, specifically toddlers, entertained in the car!
There was a time when the kids were younger, that my husband refused to take any long drives with the kids unless it was bedtime. They’d be popped in the car, ready for bed and (hopefully) sleep for most of the journey. We’d arrive at our destination sleep deprived but crucially with our eardrums still intact.
If this isn’t possible, an alternative strategy is needed. Games. Lots of games!
In this post, I’ve listed some of the best travel games for toddlers, or games you can play with toddlers to entertain them on long, boring car journeys.
Fighting car sickness
First, a little note on fighting car sickness. I used to get it as a child and still do. It astonishes me that some people can read books in the car! I can’t even look down to get something out of my bag without a sudden flush of nausea.
Having an empty stomach can increase the chances of feeling car sick. Being well fed, but not overfull, can help prevent kids from feeling queasy. Try strong ginger biscuits (homemade, if possible as then you can add a bit of extra ginger) as snacks too.
Some of my favourite games to play with children are ones from my own childhood. Things like “I Spy” are classics, and really help your child to develop their language and vocabulary skills.
A friend of mine has a game she plays with her toddlers where she asks them to shout out names for different coloured cars. Wisely she picks less common colours… “Blackberry on wheels” is a purple car, “cheese on wheels” is a yellow car and “tomato on wheels” is a bright red car. I don’t recommend choosing silver and black cars, or starting this game on a motorway as there’ll be no let-up.
Easy Ipads and Kids Tablets
Before the little ones were born, I was very much in the “no Ipad’s for my kids” camp - but on long car journeys, anything goes.
If your child gets carsick looking down, a screen that attaches to the back of the front seats is a good solution. Popping this on at the start of a journey can help kids settle down and eventually (hopefully) go to sleep.
If your singing isn’t up to much, your toddler probably doesn’t mind but your other passengers might... Your toddler's favourite nursery rhymes played through your car speakers as a sing along tool can do wonders as entertainment. If Baby Shark has already eaten away at your sanity, look for older nursery rhymes or ones you liked as a child. Even theme tunes to popular children's cartoons.
This is also an activity that will help your little one develop their language and vocabulary skills.
A favourite travel companion
Toys can easily end up on the floor of the car (either thrown or accidentally) and require immediate retrieving to avoid piercing screams. Since I don’t have a head for looking down and backwards when moving (bleugh) I like toys that stay put!
This was one of the inspirations in creating the cute and handy Knitted Hanging Monkey. You can attach it securely to a car seat and it won’t go anywhere! The rattle in its little tummy and the inviting crinkly textured feet will help to keep your toddler happy and entertained.
If feeling car sick isn’t a problem, and if your toddler is a little older and able to hold things securely, a few of their favourite books can be a good call. If you can find any about a car, train or plane journeys - depending on your mode of transport - then you get extra points.
Headphones for easy listening
If you’re travelling in a car with other children, or on public transport - it’s not always an option to have loud music or cartoons playing. Adult headphones aren’t suitable for toddlers and can potentially damage their ears, but there are lots of toddler-friendly headphones on the market. These Untangled Pro Wireless Bluetooth headphones by LilGadgets are always well reviewed. In lower price ranges, these Califone first listening kids stereo headphones are child-friendly and super cute!
What are your tricks and tips for keeping toddlers entertained on long car journeys? We’d love to hear them! Let us know by contacting us on our Instagram or Twitter @matchstick_monkey