How to keep your toddler entertained and happy when you are traveling long distance

Given a choice of taking a herd of wild bulls for grazing or traveling with one 3-4 year old long distance, I am sure many parents would go with the herd of bulls rather than the toddler. When you have two or more children to manage, chaos is all you can expect; but it happens if you don’t know enough activities to keep them engaged. 

We parents have to understand that children do not have problems on their platter to ponder over. At this age they are neither worried about school, work, peer pressure, addictions, gender attraction or any other such other mortal turmoil’s that keep us engaged and stressed throughout the day. They need something to do to occupy their mind. Hence they become restless when you have to wait or travel long distance. 

Besides, they need to eat and have toilet breaks regularly. If you plan your trip well, your travel experience with your children can be a memory to be treasured by all the family. Have snacks, music, books and some games ready with your creativity flowing. Moreover do not forget to include handheld puzzles, tiny colouring books with stickers, word/picture searches (e.g. Where’s Waldo?) and clay moulds to make your journey happy one. 

Let us have a look at few games you can play with your child during long distance travel or when you are stuck in a traffic jam, which is more common and more boring for the child as well. 

‘Wh’ questions

At this age, children are very curious about the world around them. Hence, they often bombard you with thousands questions a minute if allowed. Learn to answer every question put forward by the child related to any topic- generally the children of this group ask a lot of ‘wh’ words (what, when, which, how, where). This will not only keep the child entertained, but will build their trust in your knowledge and increase their knowledge as well. 

Counting 

Even though, not many end up loving maths, in childhood, counting can be fun, especially when you traveling long by train. You can count the number of trees, mountains, rivers or tunnels passed. To make it more interesting, count men and women. Challenge the child to guess whether there are more men or women and then start counting. 

This will help your child not fear the numbers since math can be fun. 

Read hoarding

Make the child read the letters on the boards of shops. Though many hoardings can be tough for your child, the visual clues will help. Soon the child will start identifying the whole word as a picture clue and start guess reading. This will give a sense of achievement to the child, meanwhile increasing reading skills as well. One thing to keep in mind is, never to correct the child immediately or say you are wrong. 

You can also read the number plates of vehicles passing by with your child.  This can be engaging activity as well as a part of early learning scheme for your child. 

Other activities

  • Name place animal thing- oral
  • Making a rat with handkerchief
  1. The queen of the palace lost her ring and some say this and some say that- clapping of hands Clapping of hands game- all clap hands in a particular fashion (left hand down facing upwards and right hand up facing downwards clapping with the child alternating the hand, clap to self in front of you then clap to the child’s hand).

“The queen of the palace lost her ring and some say this and some say that”

But I say (child’s name) madam/ mister (girl/boy)

I madam

Yes madam

No madam

Then who madam/ mister

(Your name or the third person playing)

  • Join the dots –pencil -paper game
  • I spy games- mention what the child needs to find.
  • Handkerchief/ tissue paper origami
  • Zip zap zoom
  • Making a handkerchief banana (for pretend play). You can also create puppets out of old socks for story telling characters. These hand puppets can be used to tell the child what they see outside the window as well. With a bit of innovation and ideas, you may become hero to children around your neighbourhood in no time. 

Let your child enjoy the journey while you feel relaxed and distressed in his/her company.