Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Picnic Post, Part 4 Travel Tips
Today's post is all about entertaining kids on the go. My husband's family lives in Southern California, which is a 5 hour drive for us to his parents' home. I have family in Southeastern Arizona, which is a 3 hour drive away. So we are in the car a lot.
I have a few little tricks to make the drives easier on all of us. Here are some of my tips.
1. Bring food for long trips. Make sure it is "car friendly" so you don't have any sticky messes to clean up later. (I made the mistake of giving my 1 year old a juice box once. Never again.) Some good traveling foods: crackers, yogurt melts, cereal puffs, grapes, fruit snacks, dried fruit, pretzels, and animal crackers, and a drink in a spill-proof cup. Just make sure if you have a really little one to give them foods that will not present a choking hazard. I love the wagon wheels that Gerber makes because my boys could chew on them for a while and they weren't too messy.
2. Have a few favorite toys at arm's reach. My boys love cars, so I let them bring a few to play with. Maybe a favorite stuffed animal.
3. We always have books on hand. Some especially good ones for traveling are the I Spy books. The board books are sturdy enough for toddlers, and the readers are great for preschoolers as they have pictures next to the words of the items to find. My boys love looking through them and naming what they see. Because they love cars, this one is a favorite. Let them read some books to you, retelling favorite stories, or read to them, letting them use their imaginations to "see" the pictures. We also enjoy books on tape and The Friend magazine (this is a monthly children's magazine printed by my church) for read-alouds.
4. We have a few "travel/ quiet time toys" that are great on trips. We love our I Spy Bags. You can give your little one a magnifying glass to examine the items for added fun. My older son also likes the lacing cards, and the magnetic Cars story box he was given as a gift earlier (it is a box with some scenes to move little magnetic Cars characters around on). My youngest loves his quiet book, especially the duck page.
5. This Christmas, I made each of my boys an I Spy Quilt for traveling. I found this great idea from makeandtakes.com and adjusted it a bit to fit our needs. Her quilt was a bit too small. I wanted something bigger that they could snuggle up with when the weather was cold in the car. I ended up using 18 different fabrics (two of each print to make 36 squares). I cut the squares 6 1/2 inches square and used a 1/4 inch seam allowance. This gave me a finished quilt that was a yard squared, so I only had to purchase one yard of the flannel I wanted for the back. I also didn't want to tie it, so I machine stitched a square in the middle, around the edge of the center 4 squares, and another square around the next set of blocks. I hope this makes sense. Perhaps I'll post a tutorial later. I tried to pick out fabrics that had lots of different objects on them, things I know my boys would like. I also found some alphabet material and number material so they could practice their number and letter recognition. My oldest LOVES Cars, so I found flannel with Cars characters to back his quilt, and a zoo animal print for my younger son. I wanted them to have as much as possible to "spy" on their quilts. These are a favorite item on trips.
6. Don't forget to just spend some time talking to your kids. Tell them stories about your childhood trips. Point out interesting things along the way. Tell silly jokes. Ask them questions and let them question you. Listen to music together (our favorite cd is the Curious George soundtrack, and I also love 10 for Our Children ). It's OK to daydream and stare out the window. It's OK to just enjoy the quiet. It's OK to nap. Enjoy your kids.
I hope some of these ideas are helpful. I know I'm always excited to hear of new things to make traveling and waiting with kids more pleasant. I can't wait to see all of the other fabulous ideas.