If you’re headed out to explore Oklahoma (or beyond), you may be wondering how to keep the kids entertained along the way. I’ll never forget looking out the car window a few summers ago, completely awe-struck by the beauty of the Colorado mountains. “Look, kids! Isn’t it gorgeous?” I called to my three children. Not a word came in response. They were either looking down at a Gameboy or up at the DVD player and were completely missing the beauty of God’s creation.
My husband and I had made what we thought to be a wise parental choice by allowing electronic devices for the long car ride. Continual electronic entertainment may make the children happy (it certainly does mine!), but the bottom line just might be that it keeps them occupied so we, the parents, do not have to entertain and referee. My husband and I had to ask ourselves, who we were truly serving?
Admittedly, it’s easier to stock up on AA batteries and DVDs than it is to plan entertainment to encourage the kids to observe the world, learn, and interact with the family. We found these games helpful:
- The alphabet game
- License plate contest—see who can count the most states between two given points
- Animal hunt—same principle as the license plate contest
- I Spy—it stretches the imagination
- Spelling games and math and state capitals quizzes,—it’s learning disguised as fun
- Tell stories about childhood, family trips, funny remembrances, ask kids to plan their dream vacations
My kids start asking for the snack bag as soon as we pull out of the driveway. Snacks do make car trips more enjoyable, but don’t let excess ruin the outing. I always pack a bag of snacks for longer runs, and on shorter trips, I allow the kids to pop into the convenience store and choose a treat when we have a bathroom break. Here are ways to keep the snacking healthy:
- Pack bottled water in the car
- Choose nuts, snack crackers, trail mix, grapes, and carrots rather than junk food
- On snack stops, restrict selections to a small candy bar
- At fast food restaurants, never ever “supersize” anything
- Drink water rather than soft drinks and skip milkshakes and malts altogether
- Choose healthy alternatives (apple snacks, salads, and yogurt) which are available in many restaurants
- Choose a restaurant that offers sandwiches rather than burgers
Avoid Motion Sickness
For some children, car sickness can be a problem. Ginger, a natural herb, has been shown in a controlled study from The Lancet (a British medical journal) to control motion sickness better than Dramamine which has a sedating effect. Ginger can be taken in several forms. Young children can eat a small piece of candied ginger just prior to travel. Ginger also comes in capsules available at health food stores. The recommended dosage for adults is 500 mg one hour before travel and then 500 mg every two to four hours as necessary. The recommended dose for children is one half the adult dose.
In her pediatric practice, Kala Haiduk Sigler, MD focuses on building relationships with families and helping parents experience the delights of parenthood in wellness. She and her husband, Scott C. Sigler, MD, is an oculoplastic and reconstructive surgeon, they have three children.