Blame Mumbai’s roads which seem to be undergoing an overhaul and maintenance all throughout the year or the ambitious interconnected Metro project, living in this city has become an absolute nightmare. No wait, let me correct that, travelling in Mumbai has. Or even better, add a baby or restless toddler to that car and you, rather than the kids will ask “Are we there yet?” I now dread any sort of car trips with my toddler. That’s when I asked myself wouldn’t anyone be frustrated, irritated and plain simple mad if they were stuck in traffic jams at any point of time of the day, not just rush hour. Yes I can happily Instagram my time away but what about my child? What was needed was some super simple fun to make car trips bearable again. And ta-da!! here are some ideas to do just that.
An awesome playlist
No one can deny that good music soothes all ills and cures the blues. But don’t let your child’s playlist be the source of hair pulling irritation for you. There’s no doubt your playlist in the car when you travel with your children, will contain the Wheels on the Bus and Daddy Finger for the millionth time. However do add some fun grown people songs to the mix too. It’ll be a fun change for your kids and make you smile too. BabyT and we have an unspoken arrangement, 2 grown people songs and 1 baby song. Now he enjoys our songs too and sometimes asks only for them. Baby happy, parents happy!
A typical playlist in our car looks like this. But to be honest, these are all songs which babyT loves listening to now, they are his songs.
Books, Books & more books
Books have been our saviour one time too many. But books need to be read and toddlers and babies especially cannot do this independently. At times like these interactive books which can be engaging without having to be read come in real handy.
Books which make noise, touch-and-feel books and sticker books can be a boon for car trips. Kids can be left on their own, in their car seats with such books and they can really get lost in the fantasy world these books provide.
Activity: Hand Puppets & matching toys
This was a big hit for us in the car. So technically it is a book but we clubbed it with our animal figure toys and babyT loved his time in the car with them. The time we used these I was actually sitting in the backseat with him with the puppet book while he fished for the matching animal figures from the cloth bag we had stored them in.
Games: What colour is?
This is a very simple activity where you call out an object you see on the road, usually a school bus or a car nearby, and ask your child to identify the colour. You can also try this the other way around and ask what is yellow? Answer: School bus. And now that my son is approaching 2 and able to communicate better, he also points out to the metro under-construction on the highway.
This game is fun and doesn’t need any props or preparation time. The only flip side is that it may be more suited for slightly older kids. But hey, don’t let that put you off. This is actually how babyT started identifying and learning colours. He knew a few colours right from the time he was 9 or 10 months old. Cool, huh!
There is nothing like snacking to kill time, both for young and grown ups alike. But snacking needs to be healthy, yet fun.
Set up a fun snack box for your little ones to munch on in the car. Buy a compartmentalised box like this one or use jewellery boxes to fill them with a variety of nuts, small fruit, healthy packaged snacks etc. Your toddlers will love you for the creativity and actually look forward to car trips too.
Travel Surprise Bag
This one came together quite by accident but it was of immense help nonetheless. Once I was rushing for a short overnight trip to my mom’s and wanted to clean up the mess in the playroom before my radio cab arrived. So I grabbed a small drawstring bag and filled it with what lay on the floor – animal shapes, blocks, lego bits, pom poms, tiny books, Hot Wheel cars and some dried leaves from our fall activity. In the rush I then stuffed this bag into his diaper bag.
When it started raining tantrums in the car I had nothing but this bag to offer him and he was intrigued by the variety and my own inability to explain what the bag contained. It may have seemed like a microcosm of his playroom and he found his calm again. I swear by these busy bags now.
Got any other ideas for keeping them calm during car rides? What tips and tricks work for you? I’d love to have some more ideas. 🙂
Don’t forget to keep child’s safety in mind at all times during car rides and there’s nothing better than a car seat to ensure just that. My friend Udita who has been using a car seat since her lovely little girl was 7 months old, writes all about car seats and how to ensure a happy experience with them. Read her blog post here.