5 tips for making car time fun time for kids of every age

Putting a map – and the power of navigation – in your kids’ hands is just one way to make drive time more fun for everyone.

We all know happy children make for happy parents. Yet keeping everyone entertained isn’t always so easy. With summer and the end of school just around the corner, entertaining the kids, whether they’re in their teens or still in their younger years, becomes all the more important. Drives both around town and on longer trips don’t have to be exercises in parental patience, though. Instead, try a few of these tips to keep offspring of all ages happy in the back seat.

A Map Makes a Co-Pilot

Put the power back in your kids’ hands with a physical map and let them be your “co-pilot.” This is an especially attractive option for teens, who may already be dreaming about the day they get to take the wheel. Letting them do the navigating will allow them to learn about the area, and instead of them asking “Are we there yet?” you can ask them. A boredom-busting turn of the tables that’s sure to entertain.

Quirky Stops

Break up the trip’s monotony with a few quirky stops along the way. A little research beforehand can give you a list of attractions tailored to your passenger’s interests and age. To involve older kids, give them a hand in the research. Even if you’re in a rush, bathroom breaks and the need for fresh air are going to happen. You might as well spend them at places like a gigantic monument to peanuts, a nine-ton ball of twine or a water tower in the shape of a huge peach.

A Suitcase of Choices

Let the kids choose what they want to do – within limits, of course. Propose a variety of books – coloring books, novels, audiobooks – along with music, toys, and healthy snacks, and let the kids fill their own “suitcase,” or just a laptop-sized bag. Not only does it give the sense of choice, but it makes them take responsibility if an “I’m bored, when’re we getting there?” pipes up from the backseat.

Try, Dare We Say It… Talking

In a world where time spent together is increasingly uncommon and dinner as a family is as rare as a shooting star, the closely shared space of a long car ride is sometimes just what you need to have a real conversation. As the miles roll on, even sullen teenagers find themselves opening up about their lives.

Take Advantage of Apps

With the rise of smart phones and tablets, a whole new world of backseat entertainment has opened in the form of apps. From classics like hangman to drawing games and crossword puzzles, there’s an app for every age and interest. The best thing about these new takes on the classics? Many of them are social games, so your fellow travelers can play with their friends, even if they are in another time zone. Plus, no supplies or cleanup needed. Can’t beat that.