The unofficial start of summer is just a week away and for many families that means family vacations and road trips! And for the kids in those families that can mean a whole lot of time staring at a little screen while riding in the car.
Don’t get me wrong. I am a firm believer that a little screen time is fun for the kids and a total sanity saver for the parents. But when kids stare at their screens the WHOLE time, they miss out on so much. And as parents, we do, too! Car rides fall into the category I like to refer to as “mandatory family fun time.” (Cue the eye rolls from my boys.) We are all running in a million different directions these days and that is ok. So let’s make the most of the time we do have as a family, all in one place, for a significant amount of time.
So here are a few quick and easy tips to help reduce your kids’ screen time on road trips and encourage them to have a little unplugged fun:
- Listen to an audio book or a podcast. Finding an audio book is no problem (think Harry Potter, The Swiss Family Robinson, anything by Roald Dahl… just to name a few) but until recently, I really struggled to find a podcast that was appropriate and interesting for the whole family. Well, lucky us, because last week NPR launched the Wow in the World podcast. They have dubbed it the “podcast for curious kids and their grown-ups.” I downloaded the first episode yesterday and have it cued up for this weekend so I will let you know how it is but given NPR’s proven history of fascinating podcasts, I feel pretty confident that it will be a hit!
- Play the license plate game. When we were children, we would receive an envelope each June from our Nana who lived in Maine. Each year, she painstakingly loaded an index card into her typewriter and created a list of the 50 states and sent one to me and both of my sisters. They were absolute treasures and they rode around in the car with us all summer long. Download my Road Trip Activity Pack now. It includes tons of fun stuff including a Printable License Plate Game. Print as many as you need!
- Carpool (turned Road Trip) karaoke! If you haven’t caught an episode of James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke yet, you might be living under a rock. Or more likely, you are just busy as all get out raising kids. Watch an episode or two before you hit the road (some episodes are more appropriate than others depending on the age of your children). Make a playlist of family favorites on Spotify or whatever you listen to your music on. If you have a teen or tween, put them in charge of taking family requests and assembling the playlist. If you don’t know the words to a song, just Google them (yes, technically you will be using a screen) and then sing along! On a recent road trip, we found a Coldplay concert on YouTube and listened to the whole things from start to finish. Almost as good as being there! 😉
- Do a little car yoga. By now we are all pretty familiar with the many benefits of practicing yoga. Help your family stay loose and reduce stress while on the road with a little yoga that everyone can do without even unbuckling. Check out this car yoga routine from the Sugar, Spice and Glitter blog that is meant specifically for kids. Feeling the need for something a little more extensive? Here are ten great yoga moves that can all be done while seated. A few are really only meant to be done in the front seat but could be modified for back seat riders.
- Play Road Trip Bingo! My printable Road Trip Activity Pack includes THREE different bingo cards. You can also quickly + easily open the PDF and customize them yourself in case you want any changes or want to switch things up after a trip or two. When kids complete a row, they earn a reward like 30 minutes of screen time! How fun is that? But just like the rest of the card, the reward is also customizable so feel free to put whatever you want in there. Maybe hit the dollar store before you go and every time they complete a row they get to pick a treat out of your bag of goodies!
Where are you heading this summer? Hope that all of your road trips are safe + happy + as relaxing as possible! Good luck, people! XO, ellie