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How do you keep your kids entertained on long journeys?

19 replies

Penguin2 · 27/05/2004 13:53

OK annual trawl down to Cornwall coming up, takes us about 7 hours. Have four children aged nearly 8, 6, 4, and 15 months. We do the kiddies tapes, play I spy, ds1 has a small hand held computer game etc, but inevitably someone starts crying about half way there. What novel ideas have you got for keeping the kids entertained?

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Sari · 27/05/2004 13:59

Any chance of doing it overnight? We go up to Scotland a lot and set off from London at 6-ish. We keep them entertained for a couple of hours (books, tapes, little toys etc), stop for half an hour or so somewhere round Birmingham and then they go to sleep for the rest of the way. We get there about 2am. Doing it at that time means the roads are empty too.

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Penguin2 · 27/05/2004 14:03

We did think of this but dh travels a lot every day for work and he wanted a good night's sleep before setting off. I wanted to break the journey and stay in a hotel but we can't afford to. Current plan amongst excited children is to leave very early (4 yr old wants to leave at 4 in the morning!) and we thought that might mean they sleep a bit more on the journey, but it probably won't happen - I like my beauty sleep too much! Plus, dh needs a good break before driving again.

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Blu · 27/05/2004 14:04

I give DS something that takes him ages to eat, like a hard apple with the skin on.
The older ones might like a game called 'sausages'. Take it in turns to be the one to answer a series of questions, but the ONLY answer allowed is 'sausages'. 'What do you lay yur head on at night?', what is your teachers name? what does daddy small like? what have you got up your nose....very juvenile - kids love it.

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Penguin2 · 27/05/2004 16:17

Thanks Blu. We'll give it a go.

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littlemissbossy · 27/05/2004 16:20

For our long journey to France this year, we're thinking of buying one of those mini dvd players, as recommended by our neighbour - great for when you really can't take any more I spy!!

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Aero · 27/05/2004 16:37

Am also doing the drive to Scotland in a few weeks and am really not sure of the best plan. Have a friend in Lake District but it's been sooooo long since we've spoken - you know how it is....... and didn't want her to think we were only ringing her for somewhere to break the journey - which we are sort of, but it would be really lovely to see her. Should I bite the bullet and call her?

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SoupDragon · 27/05/2004 16:49

We used to drive from London to Cornwall every year when I was little (pre M25!) and we used to break the journey in half by having a stop for a long picnic lunch. If one of yours usually cries before halfway, look at a map, work out the likely crying spot and find something fun to do in that area. We went loads of times and i can honestly say that I don't remember any of the dull journeys. I don't really remember every being "kept amused" either! We used to play pub cricket (number of legs on the pub signs I think) and spotting a complete alphabet of car number plates.

We used to leave at some god forsaken hour of the morning like 4am though so maybe we slept for large chunks of the journey.

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Tortington · 27/05/2004 17:11

we do france every year which invovles long drives with arguing kids. we bought them gameboys off ebay. a magazine of their choice - usually fast motor bikes for the boys or "bliss" for dd - they chose not me. other ideas are quiz questions - you can either google them and print or go to a toy shop and just buy the trivial persuit questions for children - or something similar. or another simple game is draw an object with your eyes closed - good for a laugh

ps. we tell 'em any moaning and we will give them homework - we take the maths and english books from whsmiths too!

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Tortington · 27/05/2004 17:16

oh and personal stereos too -cant the four year old listen to wheels on the bus or something on the personal stereo? colouring books, make a word out of the reg of the car in front, pick a colour and see how many cars in that colour you get ( my kids cheat and usually ands in my screaming SHUT IT) but you can give it a try !!

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Tortington · 27/05/2004 17:18

oh and chucking food at them works for a short while - we pack butties and drinks and fruit instead of stopping or buying on the ferry- cos its so expensive

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mummysurfer · 27/05/2004 17:33

we do 30 mins of games, i spy etc., 30 mins of singing along to tapes, then 30 mins of nothing! nothing means no games/kiddie tapes just chatting, listening to radio.
even take along small kitchen timer so they know how long is left!
otherwise the games/singing start to pi$$ me off

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lilibet · 27/05/2004 18:12

I cant beleive this thread!! I found mumsnet in 2002 when I was going to Cornwall with best mate and my 3 kids and put somehting similar in a search engine and it brought me here!!
Mine are 15, 11 and 7 but have been doing long drives with them for years, things that I have found help are stocking up on crap from your local pound shop, ours do magetic games at 2 for a pound and other such stuff and spacing them out thru the journeys. We make 'spotter boards' before we go which are good for the older ones, make a list of things like yellow cars, eddie stobarts, police cars and see who can see the most. 'Eye spy' books are good buys as well, they cost about £2 each and have things to look out for. I also make a list of about 20 places that we will pass thru or near finishing with the place that you are going to and then they can cross them off as they see signs. that's pretty good actually as it stops the 'are we there yet' questions as they can see how far they have got.
And another stupid game we play is if we see a sign that says Birmingham 90 miles, we all pick how far away it will be on the next sign, with whoever was closest getting a sweet and getting to go first next time.

If all else fails, invest in a walkman and an eyemask adn use them yourself

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roisin · 27/05/2004 18:37

Aero - definitely bite the bullet and phone your friend - she can always say no if it's not convenient. We live in Cumbria, though a bit off the beaten track. We always tell friends to call in "if they are passing", and are absolutely delighted when anyone does!

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Penguin2 · 27/05/2004 18:54

Thanks for all the ideas. I have left it too late to go shopping for things, but I will know next time. I particularly like your idea, Lilibet, of listing places and getting them to cross them off as we come to them. The "are we nearly there?" question must be one of the most irritating of all time, especially when you are stuck in a traffic jam on the M25!
Reading about cheap games reminded me that when we were on a long journey at Easter, we stopped off at Little Chef and they had some really good freebie toys: small books with puzzles inside which entertained them for the meal, and then, on the back was a maze/map with a small silver ball. My three older ones were amused for the whole journey and for a few days beyond by that. I must look them out and see if they are just as successful this time.

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suedonim · 27/05/2004 19:30

We've always had to make long journeys of 500+ miles with our lot. Personal stereos are very good and also help against car sickness. Don't forget spare batteries and buy replacements whenever you stop - a little adventure for the children to go and buy them in the shop. A magnadoodle is a great thing to have, no bits to lose down the side of the seat!! It's fun for children to buy their comics at service stations, and also those shops usually have cheap puzzle and sticker books.

We always try to get as big a chunk of the journey done as possible before stopping for the first time, three or four hours. We find that once we've stopped for the first time the intervals between the next stop get shorter and shorter!! Take some picnic-type food so you can stop for a snack, rather than have to queue every time in cafes.

For anyone driving up north on the M6, the Westmorland (formerly Tebay) service station has been revamped and is really lovely now. It's run by a local cooperative and they even have a food shop with local produce. An alternative to a service station in the Lake District is Low Sizergh Barn though it only keeps shop hours so no good at 3am! There's a farm walk and you can have a meal while watching the cows being milked in the dairy next door. Lovely!

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hmb · 27/05/2004 19:38

At the risk of sounding a real saddo, you can make your own word searches that fit in with your trip, you can use place names or the names of landmarks. The kids have to find the words first, and them tick them off as they find them, small prize at the end (for all to stop arguments!)

go to www.schoolhousetech.com/products/freesoftware.htm

For the free software to do this!

Works a treat. In my favour can I say that I down loaded the software for work (I'm a teacher)

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frogs · 27/05/2004 19:41

Making rude/silly phrases out of the first three letters of car numberplates, eg. LJF: Lovely jelly farts; BHB: Big hippo's bottom. Will keep 6-10 year olds entertained for hours (and my four-year old finds it pretty funny too, though he doesn't exactly 'get' the rules).

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hmb · 27/05/2004 19:50

Oh and when we see animals in the field you have to alert the rest of the car by yelling a different animal name!

And sing alongs where you turn down the volume and you have to sing along and see if you are still in time.

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Crunchie · 28/05/2004 10:09

I bottled it and bought the mini dvd player I found one for £125 and the girls are so excited. They also know if they make a noise or start rowing then mummy has the remote and will turn it off I am so excited I am even taking films I like

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