It’s easy to keep kids entertained at a hotel with a pool and playground. The hard part about a long-distance move with kids is filling all of that boring time spent in a car as you travel to your new home. Follow the tips below to make your relocation a happier experience for your child.
A safe and comfortable car seat is a must when transporting your infant. Before the trip, clean the baby’s car seat thoroughly. Wash any removable parts as recommended by the car seat manufacturer. Your baby appreciates a freshened seat with no spilled formula or crumbs to attract insects and smelly bacteria.
Run your hands around the seat to ensure there are no rough or scratchy edges. Make sure the car seat straps are properly fastened so the baby is not pinched or rubbed raw by the straps. On a short trip, your baby may not mind a bit of discomfort. But over many miles, a baby will definitely lose patience if bound too tightly or poked with a loose strap end.
Whenever possible, take your time as you transport your baby over a stretch of time. Allow for frequent nursing/feeding and diaper-change stops. Take the baby out of the car seat for a stretch as often as you can. If your infant has favorite lullabies, books and videos, these will help to pass the time, so have ample media and books on hand as you travel.
Little ones who’ve started to walk and explore the world need comfy car seats as noted above. Kids between two and four appreciate hearing their favorite books on tape and watching their favorite shows. Unbreakable headsets are lifesavers for kids and parents. Toddlers and older kids can enjoy their stories and songs while adults focus on navigating to the new destination.
Attention spans are short in kids at the toddler and preschooler stages. Games should be very simple and short. For instance, pick a color and ask the toddler to find things that are the same hue. Or take turns making animal sounds and have the others guess which beast is being mimicked.
Plan to provide plenty of stretching and exercising stops for wiggly toddlers whenever possible. Even if you can’t let your toddler run around in a park or playground, you can create your own exercise routine. Hopping, jumping jacks and running-in-place help work out excess energy. Make sure to bring along snack foods your young child will eat in case you can’t find kid-approved road food.
Kids from five to nine years old enjoy road trips more as they age. They appreciate the changing scenery and the aspect of adventure. Handheld video games and smart devices keep travel-averse kids happy, especially if they have a set of earbuds to block out the world.
Get your child excited about the trip by offering a set of binoculars or a new camera to record the journey. Kids this age also love games using road maps, puzzles and family trivia. Compact play sets, coloring books and reusable stickers are helpful for quiet times.
Bring along a soft pillow and blanket for each child in case of travel delays. If your child has a favorite stuffed animal, let the beloved companion ride along with your family. Use the time during the trip to tell your child some interesting facts about the new home. Younger kids feel more secure when they learn about their new school and neighborhood, even if they will miss their old home.
Kids who are ten and up will often have their own travel routines down to a science. Some kids love to help you navigate and pick the next restaurant, and other kids this age retreat into books and games. Older kids may also have a tougher time adjusting to the move. They may be very resentful about leaving old friends and teammates behind.
Let your older child’s interests and hobbies dictate the distractions and activities enjoyed during a long-distance move. Don’t force your child to engage in activities you know will be met with resistance.
Don’t try to “sell” the new home and neighborhood to a sad child. Let your child grieve and process the move as an individual. That does not mean you must allow unacceptable behavior because you feel guilty. You’re moving because it’s the best choice for your family. In time, your child will understand, especially if you give the young person the freedom to tell you how they feel with no judgment on your part.
Kids from the age of seven to sixteen may enjoy completing the activity booklets offered by the National Park Service. When kids finish the age-appropriate tasks in each book, they are eligible to receive an official Junior Ranger badge for that activity. Categories include archeology, paleontology, history, nature and historic preservation. Kids can complete the booklets in the car and send in their documentation later to receive their badges in the mail.
Research activities like the Junior Ranger program with your older child before your move. Let your child choose a stop or two that’s in line with a favorite hobby, sport or place. When you’re able to spend your relocation time as a vacation time, too, the move can be fun and educational.
Trust Bekins Van Lines Inc to move your household safely and securely while you travel with your family to your new home.