We have spent most of the summer, anywhere else but home. With two young kids (a toddler and a preschooler), we hit the road and explored Eastern Ontario, Vancouver and Northern British Columbia racking over 10,000 kilometres in travel for family, doctors, and just because.
And while there are many tricks and tips about all the things you need to road trip with kids, at the end of the summer, I know one secret to happy young kids on whatever adventure you endeavour.
Wanna know my secret to happy kids and travel?
It’s pretty simple.
Even 15 minutes will do the trick.
In my experience, a trip to the playground changes the mood for the entire day when travelling with young children.
Seriously, after a long day driving and exploring Quebec City, we stumbled upon a slide and swing. The kids played for 20 minutes and they were totally different kids from when we first dragged them up that hill. They sat through dinner, sat in the stroller, and cooperated for the next journey up ahead.
It encourages tiny chidlren to nap, to sit still longer, and to just to play and be silly. Whether we are putting around town for the day or driving 8 hours, a stop at a local playground in some town in the middle of nowhere makes the day better.
Next time the kids are giving you grief, and you are overwhelmed on your travel adventure with a toddler, preschooler, or mabye even a bigger kid, pull over and check out a neighourhood playgound.
I’m sure there’s a lot of obvious science behind the magic playgrounds, but I’m not a scientist, and while I wrote my degree in the lasting mental health impacts of children in nature, it’s beyond this blog.
I’ve tried visiting fancy parks, or lakes and going for walks on cute trails, but at the end of the day a playground works a million times more. A playground is a social space, a silly space, and a challenging space that gets young children doing the things and having the fun they need to be in a better mood for the day.
This probably only works for kids who already like playgrounds. If your kid hates playgrounds maybe don’t try this. I’m not the right blog advice giver then.
While, I know you want to be visiting all the historic sites, getting home a little faster, or maybe eating dinner at a nice restuarant, skip it for a playground because it means more smiles, laughter, and less mama fustrations.
My best pro tip is to order take out about 20 minutes out of town. You can ask siri to call a pizza place, and pick it up and then enjoy it at the playground. Chances are the kids will be too busy to eat, but they will slow down and stop eventually. Maybe not. I usually feed the kids in the car at the next rest stop.
Did you discover a road trip secret this summer?
Stay posted because I’m going to share my tech free bag of goodies in the coming weeks that has sustained and entertained my 18 month old and 3 year old for 10,000 kilometres of carseat rides this summer.