Happy New Year Or So She Says readers! Mariel has been gracious enough to let me hang around here for another year. I’m so excited! I love spending time with you all!
I hope 2014 has been treating you well thus far. I have no complaints on my end. I know it’s totally cliché, but I love January because it’s time to start new, organize, set goals, and improve. I know a lot of us get working on projects around the house this time of year. Do any of you carry that over to your car? I do. At least recently I do. Today I’d like to share a few things I like to keep in my car so it stays somewhat tidy, and also engaging for my boys.
Just let me begin by saying I am in no way, shape, or form above using technology as entertainment in the car. My parents live three hours away, and we pull out every electronic device we own for that trip. I’m talking about what I use for engaging my boys in the car on a daily basis when we’re running here and there around town with errands, school, and activities.
One day while doing our running around in the car, after breaking up one argument after another between my boys, I decided I needed something engaging/distracting (call it what you like) to keep these boys of mine from drawing blood in the car. So, here are few things we’ve come up with to keep our time together in the car a bit more pleasant, and actually enjoyable.
Favorite Ways to Entertain Kids in the Car:
Okay, so hand sanitizer isn’t really an activity, but I tell you what, my four-year-old finds it quite entertaining. It’s kind of become a little tradition to send mom (my boys aren’t too keen on being in the car, and going to stores hits a whole new level of unhappiness) to Bath and Body Works each month to pick out three of their seasonal sanitizers for the car. Like I said, my four-year-old is totally into these, and I’m actually quite surprised with how much my first grade twins enjoy them as well. I love them because every time my boys put the sanitizer on the car smells amazing, and their hands stay clean. Really, really clean in my four-year-old’s case. Somedays he sanitizes ten times or more in a three minute drive. My boys each keep one of these sanitizers in the cup holder next to their seats.
Just like arguing, the munchies seem to settle in every time we get in the car. I’ve never been a big fan of food in the car. My car gets dirty enough without the crumbs, spills, and stains of a Kid’s Meal, or whatever it might be. Not to say we don’t have a few snacks in the car here and there, because we do. But, when my boys have their little container of gum by them in their cup holder, they don’t really complain about being hungry. The gum takes care of the hunger craving long enough to get our errands done, and return home where they can snack away. I really like these new-ish containers of gum because they leave no wrappers! I’m not really OCD, but I can’t stand to have wrappers in the car. I’ve been known to hold a single gum wrapper in my hand until I can get out of the car and put it in a garbage can. Okay, maybe that is OCD. Anyway, my boys really do enjoy the gum, and one of the best parts is trying out new flavors. I only had mint for this photo, but my boys’ favorites are the fruity flavors. I love them too!
I don’t know about your kids, but my boys are completely fascinated with maps. The Disneyland maps were just about their favorite thing of our entire Disneyland vacation. They like to know where things are, where we’re going, how far it is, etc. I like to keep a few maps in the car. These maps are more general, but it’s really fun to get maps of places you’ve vacationed and keep them in the car while you’re driving around.
One of my twins was obsessed with Sonic the Hedgehog a few years back and saved up $25 to get a Sonic comic book subscription. I was thinking it was a lot of money for something not very useful. Well, I had to eat my words. He and his brothers LOVE these comics. I love magazine subscriptions because you get something new every month. It keeps things exciting and fresh. These comics keep my boys totally entertained in the car.
My twins have a very smart first grade teacher this year. She always gives little educational toys/activities for their birthdays, or special occasions. My boys initially were a bit disappointed, but they really love using these things. The clock is always a big hit, and my twins are good at drilling each other on the flashcards. The minutes you spend in the car can add up, and it really only takes a few minutes to review, or learn something new. My boys have a million things to do at home, so it’s a bit harder to get them to sit down and focus at times. In the car, there’s not a whole lot to do, so we try to take advantage of the down time and try to squeeze in something educational.
My boys love to draw, and now that they’re learning to write, my twins find it quite exciting. I keep a small journal and pencil (markers, even crayons can be a bit scary in the car) in the car for each of my boys. It’s also a great place to practice spelling words. Keep a list of your child’s spelling words in the car, and quiz them on your way to the store.
In addition to the magazines, we do keep some books in the car as well. I like keeping books in the car because we have so many books in the house that the books kept in the car get looked at more often than they would if they were just put on a shelf somewhere in my boys’ bedroom. I try to keep a variety of fiction and non-fiction books. It’s also fun to keep I Spy books and seasonal books in the car as well.
Calculators can provide hours of entertainment. My boys love crunching numbers. They like to add simple math facts they know, but they really love punching in the biggest numbers they can come up with. Calculators are great for teaching place value and math facts.
I’m sure you all have one of these lying around somewhere. These are mini Etch-A-Sketches. Not only are toys like this great for the car because they’re clean, quiet, and entertaining, but my boys don’t really go for the Etch-A-Sketch at home. They’re more likely to wrestle a bit, throw a football, or do something more active. These quiet toys are taken advantage of more often in the car than at home (at least for us).
Same idea as the Etch-A-Sketch. Something quiet and fun for the car that would otherwise get looked over at home. And I love how mess-free it is!
I found these lacing cards at the dollar store one day. I wasn’t sure if my boys would like them or not, but they’ve proven to be a hit. Great for fine motor skills for young kids!
An oldie, but a goodie. The car is a great place for a view master. Now that I’m typing view master I’m not even sure if that’s the right word. We always called it that, but I’m thinking view finder sounds better now. Anyway, there’s usually plenty of light when you’re driving in the car, so it’s the perfect place for viewing some fun images of your favorites characters.
Does it sound like I keep everything but the kitchen sink in my car? I gave you a bunch of ideas, and we don’t necessarily have all of the items listed above in the car at one time. I do try to switch them out every now and then. I found some bins at the dollar store, put a fun label on it, and then filled the bins up with all the goodies. And I have to say the bins really do keep everything in its place. My boys are all really good about putting their items back where they belong. My twins sit on the very back row of our car, so I put their items in a bin between their seats. Then my four-year-old sits on the middle row alone, and he has his own basket right next to him. I’ve learned the more accessible the items are, the more they’re used. But you also have to balance that with not cluttering up your car, or being in the way. I know there are a lot of bags that hang from the backs of the chairs in the car, and maybe that would work better for you. We’ve found the bins on the seats work great for us.
One last must in the car for us is MUSIC! Music is often times my saving grace. My boys can be bickering away, and then I put on one of their favorite songs, and it’s like magic. They almost seem to go into a trance. They’re quiet, they’re listening,they’re pleasant, it’s heavenly! We love to keep music from our favorites shows (Frozen lately) in the car. And if you can’t stand hearing ‘Let It Go’ (I’m not there yet, but probably will be) one more time, then invest in a good set of headphones for your kids. Oh, and we also love books on tape for the car.
Okay, I promise that’s it. Do you like to keep anything special in the car to keep your kids entertained? I’d love to hear any of your great ideas. I’m in a sharing mood, a car-themed sharing mood, that being said, I want to shamelessly help out adamstoyota.com, since they have always been there for me.
Thanks so much for letting me take a bit of your time today. Come and visit me at Blissful Roots soon! I’ve got a beautiful Symmetrical Snowflake Art Project for kids, and our favorite dice game, Roll-A-Snowman. Both perfect activities for the beautiful wintery month of January. Enjoy your week!