“You have such a well behaved Child!” The words every parent wants to hear…. or “Christopher does so well when we travel in the car!” The words every parent wants to say!
Traveling from Point A to Point B….and maybe even a C and D? Doing this with children is not always easy. There is usually an unexpected moment where a distraction is needed. Or you just want to encourage them (I prefer not to think of this as bribing) by keeping their minds and hands occupied. (And not by a video). 🙂
We took many 10 hour drives from St Louis to Dallas with our 2 girls. We also took flight travel all over the US to visit relatives. I learned early on that a great way to keep the trip exciting for them took me planning a visit, alone, to The Dollar Store, Target or 5 Below. I would purchase enough small, interesting, entertaining treats and surprises for them to open along the way.
Children LOVE to unwrap things!
I would wrap the surprises with a bow in newspaper, used gift tissue paper or grocery store ad pages. It is great to re-use and re-cycle. (The environment will thank you!) If possible, use paper that is entertaining and can be used as a conversation piece. The grocery ads and coupons with pictures are especially great for the 18 mos + who are learning to point and use words.
For long travel trips, I would number the bottom of each surprise. I would plan which treat would be best at each step of the journey. For instance, I would label the surprise “C 1/6” (C for child name, 1 out of 6 presents)
The timing of the treats and surprises depend on YOUR child, the travel and their state of mind that day. Mom Knows Best! 🙂 Be prepared… and remember, there is also the trip home!
For a short flight maybe only one surprise at takeoff is good. It is important to put previous thought into the timing of the surprise(s). Maybe there will be times they need distraction? Periods of long sitting, transition periods, or times you need them to be quiet are great times to whip out a surprise to keep them occupied.
I would tell my kids that if they had good manners and were good listeners they would receive a new treat or surprise every ______ minutes . Timing is up to you. Just don’t space them out too much, every half hour, 45 minutes is good .
Put on your Creative Mom Hat
No need to plan ahead, but do give yourself time for a leisurely walk thru The Dollar Store or Five Below. You will be surprised at the fun, entertaining (no mess!) things available!
These surprises can be:
- books (picture books, chapter books, sticker books…)
- workbooks (Dot to Dot, Reading Comprehension, Color Wonder Book with Mess Free markers)
- a small photo album (with pictures of themselves, relatives, where they are going)
- a stuffed animal
- small one piece games
- free coloring sheets you print off the computer and roll up with a bow!