Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Sanity in the car - backseat games

Mom, he is kicking me. 
He is being mean to me. No I am not.

He is being a baby….

I don’t want that song. I want to listen to the one that we just heard again….

Why does he always get his way? It’s not fair!

Ah, the joys of backseat bickering. Not that sibling bickering is limited to the car by any means, but in a car, there are no avenues for escape!! Anyways, deep breaths. In and out.

I am sure parents with preschoolers (or older kids) have this scenario playing in their head even while they sleep lol! 

So how DO you keep your sanity in car rides? 
On very long drives, I might succumb to electronic gadgets, but otherwise, I try not to...

When I pick up the kiddos from school, we talk about all the fun (not so fun stuff) at school. What was their best moment, worst moment, what new things did they learn that day etc etc. Or if I have some special expectations that day from them or vice versa. Negotiations for privileges usually not granted also takes place during that time.
Of course, it does not last the entire ride. 

Being a working mom, I try to engage them in fun ways and sneak in some learning and teaching; reinforcing concepts never hurt!

Counting games generally causes more ruckus than not. If I say count all the white cars, one always misses something, and other takes great delight in pointing that out. Not very peaceful. If I have only one child in the backseat, then we do counting games with school buses, concrete mixers, and other fun manly stuff. 

So I get my math fix other ways. 
  • For 5.5 year old Batman: 5 ways to make 5. All odd numbers till 30. Or even numbers. Skip count by 5s. You get the gist.
    Read the speed limits. What happens if you add 10, or take away 5.

  • For 3.5 year old Spiderman – it is simple word problems. If you have 3 candy, and you eat them all, how many is left? Of course, this only works if they don’t demand candy later, lol! Start with birds maybe, if there are 2 birds sitting in a tree, and one more joins them, or one flies away, yada yada…
    What shape is the Stop sign? How many sides does it have? Can you look for a triangle sign? How about a diamond?

 Other fun ideas:
  • Try to read all the road signs. 
  • Or identify the makes of cars. Batman is getting better at it than me. Almost. Or play a game by trying to come up with makes and models of cars from A to Z. 
  • Or try to pick up hybrids or electric vehicles.
  • Too difficult? Or maybe the kiddo is not into cars. Well, let’s go with stuff that we can find while on the road - A to Z. It is hilarious the way they try to justify some of their answers. Like refrigerator. How would you see one on the road? Well, if it was being transferred in a pickup truck, you could totally see it. How about ants? Well, just  because we can’t see them when we are in the car driving does not mean it is not there…
  • Or 10 manmade stuff they see around them, and 10 from nature….
  • Same trend, living and non-living.
  • 5 things/vehicles that go in land, air and water.
  • Identify the plants and trees around you.
  • Ask them to look for big landmarks on the way. And get them to draw a map with those landmarks later.
  • Names of animals. Start from A.  Go. Spiderman made it to J in 6 minutes or so, with lots of hint for I from big brother. Ant, Bee, Crocodile, Dog, Elephant, Fish, Gorilla, Horse, Inchworm (he got lots of clues and hints) and Jelly Fish.  We reached our destination by then. Added benefit – one engaged child, and one very empowered big brother who helped his little brother succeed!
  • One day, my two would not stop with potty humor. They are boys, what can you say? So we decided to make it more challenging my coming up (or trying to come up) with gross stuff/bodily functions from A to Z. Needless to say, we did not succeed, because Batman and Spiderman just could not stop laughing after every new word that came up with every 5-6 minutes or so in between their cackles and chortles and snorts….

My favorite game: Place a bubble in your mouth. Be absolutely quiet, so the bubble does not pop. Whoever keeps quiet longest, wins!!

Here’s to peace and quiet in the car.

What are your brain waves for sanity in the car? And no, ditching the kids don’t count.


  1. Thanks for the ideas! Love it. You reminded me that I stashed away a truck board book to cut up and bring on our next road trip. The boys will each get a back full of trucks from the board book and will try and spot trucks like the ones from their bags. Hope it works!!

    1. All the best for the trip! I love the truck idea. Will have to remember it for out next road trip :)