screen-free road trips

The majority of our family live 6-9 hours away by car, so we knew that by choosing to live in Montreal we were committing to a lot of road trips, even with our three kids. Growing up, many of my favourite memories were made on the 24 hour drive to Florida that my family made each March Break, even though I'm sure it was challenging for my parents!

We made the decision years ago to not incorporate screens into long drives, and I'm so glad we did! For starters, I have to say that we are by no means against screens. Our kids love iPad games and Paw Patrol just like any kids their age. But for long drives, we had an inklings that including screens would set an expectation and a dependence that we weren't comfortable with. I know my kids, and if they got screen time during one road trip, they would expect it for all road trips, and eventually almost any time we're in the car for more than 20 minutes. I should note that since I don't have a data plan on my phone, if Brad is with us on a road trip, I'm also screen-free (of course I am when I'm the only driver!). So no screens for any of us and honestly, it's been great. Without the option for screens, the kids never ask for them and find other ways to have fun. They're well past napping, even in the car (insert weeping emoji face here), so it's a lot of hours all together in a small space. But you know what? We need more of that. I think families in general need more of that. Unoccupied, no distractions time together.

Here are a few things we bring for long drives:
  • A clip board for each kid with lots of white paper and markers
  • A few books, ideally new ones from the library or the thrift store, to keep their interest
  • Their favourite lovie/stuffie
  • Yummy snacks that are car friendly! (homemade waffles are great because their texture is more spongie and they don't leave crumbs, fruit pouches, cut up bell peppers and cucumbers) 
Good music is also key! We love to listen to CHVRCHES, The Royal Royal, Of Monsters and Men and Bleachers on long drives. Now when I play songs from those albums, one of my kids always says "this song reminds me of going to visit Auntie Lisa / Granna and Papa BO / Grandma and Papa / Morgan / Vanessa / the list goes on! We have done a lot of long drives together, and though they're not easy, I'm hoping my kids are building memories, just like I was in the car at their age.

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