Ok, last installment of my road trip series: kid prep – entertainment! Here are a few ideas on how to keep everyone sane and entertained.
1. Cheap Toys
Dollar store, Target dollar bins, and Walmart’s under $5 section are perfect for stockpiling playthings that your kids haven’t seen yet. They don’t have to be expensive, they just have to be new; that’s the key… surprise factor.
A very popular find were these finger laser lights that I scooped up from Walmart’s cheap toy section.
I did splurge on one set of new toys for Songbird. These Disney MagiClip dolls are amazing. Their clothes are super easy to change around and she was content playing pretend with them for nearly half our trip.
Handsome gives me a hard time about how I hoard craft supplies, but here’s another example of it paying off. Since their lap trays are metal, I dug out this pack of printable magnet sheets that were left over from an earlier project fail. Now Bug is the new foreman of an entire magnetic construction site!
2. Dry Erase
On 5 x 7 pieces of cardstock, I printed family member faces and then used self-adhesive sheets to laminate them for doodling. This 6-pack of colorful dry erase markers are perfect for kids because they’re small and have magnetic/eraser-topped caps too.
An online search led me to these fun activity sheets, which I also laminated for dry erase use. (faces, frames, alphabet trace). The original road trip BINGO sheets were found here, but people seem to forget that you can’t just print out multiples of the same sheet otherwise everyone may yell bingo at the same time. So I took the liberty of changing a few of the icons around to have 2 boards with different layouts, which you can print by clicking here.
3. Keep it Tidy
All my games, toys, sheets and markers got sorted into labeled gallon Ziplock bags for storage. I purposefully did not pack crayons, as they can melt if left in a hot parked car. For Bug, I packed mini Crayola Color Wonders to avoid accidental (or intentional) marker graffiti. Songbird can handle big kid markers and I love the small size of washable Crayola Pip-Squeaks. All the markers were put into labeled Tupperware with magnetic buttons on the bottom so they would stick to the lap trays.
A large diaper box in the front seat is perfect for storing the toys, games, and coloring supplies within reach. To minimize toy chaos, I would allow them one activity at a time. They could trade it out at any time, but this kept pieces from being lost. Since the diaper box has handles, it was a cinch to grab and carry into our hotel room once we arrived at our destination.
Local public libraries usually have a nice selection of children’s CDs and books on tape. Typically check out is 2 weeks and then you can renew the loan online if you’ll be gone longer. Instead of carrying all those hard cases along, I took the discs out and put them into a CD carrier to save space. (Shout out to Handsome circa 1992 for that awesome purchase!)
Let’s keep it real… my kids wouldn’t be entertained by toys and music alone. A couple movies and a few tv shows got loaded onto the iPad and I brought along a USB car charger to keep it juiced up. We had a nice little rotation going – new toy (30 min), coloring while listening to a book on tape (30 min), movie/show with a snack (40-60 min), repeat.
6. “Are We There Yet?!”
In an effort to thwart that inevitable question, I used gold duck tape and laminated destinations to create a visual road map on the ceiling above my visors. We stopped for 24 hours in Atlanta, hence the three states.
I even printed out an accurate version of our Jeep that got moved every few hours accordingly.
All in all, I can honestly say that all my late night road trip prepping totally paid off. If you missed the first posts about car cleaning and kid organization check ’em out. My little ones were extremely well behaved considering the grand total of 17 hours (one way) that they spent buckled in. Let’s just hope all these same tactics get us home this week!