summer holiday and so braved the seven hour drive down to St Ives with Miss H (3 1/2), Little J (2) and their four friends (aged from two to four). It was interesting to say the least, but I had been researching a few weeks beforehand for lots of ideas of how to keep them quiet on the journey down there. Here are what we did:
We used these when we flew to Fuerteventura last November and this time they went down better by our two three year old girls, who enjoyed peeling off the gels and sticking them to the window. I would say this lasted about half an hour, until one of them decided to put them in their mouths and so they had to be removed. I would say this is an over three activity unless supervised.
I had read about putting playdough into balloons for some fun sensory balls. People also use flour or rice but if the balloon pops pay dough is a lot easier to clean up, rather than a flour explosion in the car! They felt a lot like stress balls (and on occasion both mummies used them for exactly that!). Little J particularly loved squishing and reshaping the balloons and it kept him occupied for a good half an hour.
These are multi-functional and worked great for holding onto things that often end up rolling away, such as pens or beads. I bought some chalk so they could draw on the trays (I think they would have been better sprayed with chalkboard paint first though) and the girls could put their colouring pads and crayons on them and draw without losing everything. I also read that sticking magnets underneath the box of crayons is a good idea to keep them from falling off.
I went around my local pound shop a few days before the trip and bought the children a few bits of things such as play jewellery, a pack of gems and stickers. I wrapped them all up in some old wrapping paper and as the journey went on handed them out to the children when they were seeming to become bored and playing up. It was a great novelty to them to be unwrapping presents and in fact we didn't use all of them so there were some left for the journey home.
Match the stickers:
I ordered two packets of the same stickers and then folded up a few pieces of paper and stapled it together like a book. Using one of the packs I stuck the stickers through the book and then together with the unused pack, put them into a sandwich bag. The idea of these is to match the stickers and the three year olds absolutely loved this activity and it kept them quiet for nearly an hour.
All of these, along with regular stops, some disney tunes and a bit of Doc McStuffins pretty much kept them quiet and us sane for the journey. There's no denying it's a long trip and strap children this age in one spot for too long they are going to complain at some point, but plan ahead and you can make it as smooth as possible. Just make sure there's a glass of wine ready at the other end!
For more ideas you can visit my Travelling Pinterest boards as there are some on there we didn't get round to trying this time.