And one I truly wish I had the magical answer for!!
But the truth is, there isn’t a magical answer because every day is different.
Today for example, the 3 hour drive went by in a blink of an eye. Little miss wanted nothing more than to have a sarong over here like a tent, and she spent the entire drive talking to and playing with some of her teddies quite contentedly.
Other days aren’t so easy. The older she gets, the harder long distance travel is becoming. Just because Gypsy has been on the road almost since birth doesn’t mean she enjoys staring out of a car/bus/train window for hours on end. Unfortunately. Like every other parent we are having to get creative in how we keep her entertained. Thanks to Dr Google, there are no shortage of ideas out there.
Here are some that have worked with us (in no particular order):
※ Books – Having a few books is always handy. Aside from reading the story, we play hide and seek with the pictures. I put my hand over one of the people/animals/colours on the page and she has to remember what it was and vice versa.
※ Flash cards – We have both ABC picture cards and general word cards. We do a lot of role playing with the cards. Gypsy will tell me one of her bears is hungry so I will find a food card to feed to it. We will get them pretend changed, put them to bed, cook, play with different animals etc. We also count how many cards/ red cards/ cat cards. Flash cards are hours of entertainment!
※ Role-playing – Sometimes I will bring a plastic plate to the front and let Gypsy pretend to drive as well. Other times we will role-play with her bears. We will create ficticious scenes outside – “did you just see the big purple giraffe playing with the elephant?” etc.
※ Phone-calls – If you have reception, letting your toddler call Nanna or Grand-dad is a great way to get 30 minutes of driving under your belt! Let them babysit virtually!!
※ Photos – Gypsy loves looking at photos. Sometimes she will flip through them on my phone or the ipad, but usually we look at the photo album we made her with a selection of pictures of places we have been and friends and family. It’s a nice way to reminisce and encourage her memory development as well.
※ Stickers – a piece of paper and a sheet of stickers is enough to keep any toddler amused for a good half an hour!
※ Hide and seek – It’s amazing how putting a sarong over your head and saying “where’s mummy?” can entertain a toddler for literally hours! Obviously when you get tired (and trust me you will) it’s perfectly okay to encourage her to hide and then find her toys by herself.
※ Chopsticks – When we want to listen to some adult music we give Gypsy some chopsticks and let her drum along! It’s great for developing a sense of rythym too!
※ Toys – Every day Gypsy is allowed to bring 4 toys to her driving seat. Sometimes she brings bears, other times dolls, other times a bag, sometimes some blocks. This way we get to rotate her toys and get creative with our role-playing!
※ Receipts – Gypsy is loving rolling pieces of paper at the moment so I make sure to always keep a stash of receipts in my purse. She will carefully roll the receipts one at a time and hand them to me for me to unroll. We have also started experimenting with folding and I’m thinking to start some simple origami with her in the not too distant future.
※ Songs – Singing songs, especially songs with actions are awesome. At the moment we are loving “row, row, row your boat” but the crocodile verse. The crocodile can be anything – a mummy crocodile, a little crocodile (little screams) a kangaroo, a dog (woofing instead of screaming), anything that you like. Screaming is fun!!
※ Snacks – Sometimes snacks are your best friend. I usually have 2 types of snacks on me. A packet of Tiny Teddies biscuits are great for nibbles when she needs a distraction but is still happy to keep driving. A mix bag of sultanas, dried fruit, chocolate wafers, biscuits, nuts, or a few pieces of chocolate is the emergency snack. For those times when all of a sudden she just can’t go a metre further. Having a mix bag of snacks is a great option. Especially if you put it in a non-see-through bag or tupperware and let her put her hand in and pick out 1 thing at a time, guessing what it is as she does. It can be hours of entertainment!
※ Ipad – Sometimes, you just need technology. We don’t have a TV so playing games on the ipad is like Christmas to Gypsy. It doesn’t happen often, we prefer to offer her 10 minutes as a reward rather than out of desperation. But, sometimes you just have to do what you have to do. I won’t pretend we haven’t given it to her for longer than 10 minutes either. Sometimes, everyone just needs a break. And it’s times like those that we are sooooo glad we bought an ipad. Hahaha