Ideas wanted

I always feel a little guilty when I have nothing to show you. I'm finally making a summer top for my daughter, but I had to wait until this morning to get her to try it on, so there's still some finishing touches left. Especially as I just caught her hiding in a corner, carefully removing all the pins from it... grr.
I'm also trying to improve the organisation of the belongings in our house, but with my two kids it often feels like I'm taking two steps back for every step forward. If I'm in one room organising a cupboard, I can guarantee they are in the next room doing their level best to make things disorganised. I feel outnumbered.
My main concern right now, though, is that we're off on a long drive soon (oh, to be back in England, where just 6 hours would be considered a long drive). I did consider buying a portable dvd player to help entertain the kids, but they all seem to have such poor reviews in terms of durability, plus it doesn't seem like something that we'd get much use out of. We don't really own many kid's dvds. Hmm, how much is our sanity worth in monetary terms?
Anyway, so far my list of in-car entertainment ideas is:
Books (lots of)
Cds (both story and music)
Activity books (eg. you rub with a coin and a picture appears)
Chalk boards
Magnet boards
Bubble wrap to pop
Finger puppets
Toy cars and animals
Threading cards (wide holed plastic canvas and laces etc)
Felt pictures (board with felt shapes to make pictures from)
Magnifying glass
Drawing boards (the magnet ones that wipe clean)
Flash cards
Strait jackets and gags...
Any other ideas are very welcome. Especially ones that won't create a mess or involve markers, no matter how washable they claim to be... I know some of these ideas seem to overlap, but I'm hoping that the novelty of a new medium might buy us some peace time.
I'm feeling stressed - I need sugar. Mmmmm, golden syrup...

Translation of the day:
UK English: doolally = insane / mad in US English (originally from Deolali Tap)
eg. Spending 3 days in the car with her two kids had driven mum doolally...


  1. my kids get so carsick that we have to use the DVD player on cartrips. it's really made our trips much less messy, believe me!

    but our kids are big fans of books/stories on cd - have you checked out this site? you could maybe download some to burn on cd's before you go.

  2. This sounds simple, but my eldest was always a fan of a brand new notebook (still is). With a new pencil. Colored pencils, too. She journals, writes, draws, tallys signs or whatever she's counting at the moment, makes lists, etc.

  3. You forgot Valium (for you, not them!).

  4. Goodness ... you are good! I cave in on long car rides ... DVD ~ we do have one that has a dual screen that we bought at Best Buy (their brand I think) and it has worked great so far. If you want any more details I'd be happy to send them your way ... it wasn't too expensive either ... gee, I feel like I am contributing to the mushing of young brains ...

  5. From my journeys long distances as a kid, my dad hogged the radio so there were no stories to listen to or songs to sing, so on that front I think you are doing fab. We played eye spy, if I found $1 I would buy (and the amounts grew as we got older) and looked at cloud shapes. Mum also made our travel bags so that there was something to unwrap every half hour (gotta love newsprint), a snack, new game, toy etc. Have you thought of making a noughts and crosses game board? Good luck with the trip and hope the little ones don't get car sick (like my brother, that was the worse part of travelling with him....).

  6. At Target they have small (about 4x6) magna-doodles. My boys love them! The can draw for hours with those things!

    You can find them in the toy section where they sell playdoh.

  7. Car cricket? Nice and English... Make runs by adding up the first/last number on each car licence plate as they pass you on the road. If it's a 0 (zero), you're out. Can play in teams or individually. Good luck.

  8. You could take some of the things you have for the trip and wrap them up. Tell them they can open a new package every half hour or whatever time frame you devise. That way they are not overwhelmed with all of their choices and it gives them something to look forward to. Oh, and the valium sounds like a good idea. And i don't have to be stuck in a car with my kids to feel doolally, sometime just being stuck in the house with them can make me feel that way! ;)

  9. Have a great trip *that said in the most sincere of manners*. As for entertainment how about getting them to stitch/tapestry a bookmark. Its kept my 6 year old quiet for hours in the past. Other than that suggestion... good luck! Enjoy and look forward to seeing photos of your daughters summer top!!

  10. I have a 6yo and two little ones. I've made a deal with the oldest - once she takes a good solid nap, she can watch a video. So, she'd play for a good hour or two, then take a nice long nap then wake up, and watch a video for a while.

    We only use the dvd as a last resort, but it helps a TON. we have to sit through it, but we can chat while they veg :)

    good luck!


  11. The very best thing I've ever used on a road trip with my girls were road maps with the route highlighted. Even when the youngest was 5, she could follow along with a little help from the older girls and they learned navigation/map reading skills along the way. I travel with them (3 girls) alone each summer 8+ hours to visit their Grams.

    A scavenger hunt is always fun too. Make a list of things you are sure to see (McDonald's, a gas station, a car lot) and some things you might see (a giant cement rooster, a Bald Eagle, etc). Pass out preprinted score cards and let them keep track themselves. Winner gets ??. We have a lot of fun with that too.

  12. Stay home!
    (Just kidding. Kind of.)
    I'm a fan of audiobooks. I listen a lot now that I'm an adult, but I remember our long car trips as a kid (Portland OR to Redding to LA to Reno, NV every summer) and we would listen to books on tape as a family. It helps pass the time, and kids get exposed to better literature than they would otherwise read.

  13. How I identify with this feeling! I've reached the conclusion that it's not possible for me to stay on top of the housework while I have young children, and I'm not even going to start to worry about how other people seem to manage it ...mostly!

    Just found your blog after you left a comment on mine the other day (sorry I'm so behind with replying to commnets etc!).

    We have had some mammoth car journeys with our two (though not by US standards!) and have kept them happy (though sacrificing our own sanity) with lots of CDs, books & sticker activity books. A bob the builder CD was particularly successful, though we did find that we were ourselves humming Bob's version of Mambo no 5. and Wendy's 'I'm a blonde haired girl in a hard hat' all holiday.

  14. When I was a kid my mom would put some small activity in brown paper bags, one for each hour of the trip. It could be as simple as one of my own toys or a new activity book or a tape for us to listen to. It kept me entertained because of the promise of another one in an hour. Easy to make and highly recommended!

  15. Mmmm...Golden Syrup! We used some just today when my girl made chocolate crispies. Yum!

    Love the idea of the map with the route highlighted. New pencils and books are always good but yes, the notion of a long trip here in the UK is very different from the trips I read about you bloggers in the US making! I suggest lots of planned stops. My DH would always rather make a dash for it and just get there but honestly regular stops are great for stretching legs and blowing the cobwebs away.

  16. Well, if it were me, I'd not do the bubble wrap to pop -- that would drive me insane.

    Meanwhile, it is my pleasure to bestow upon you the "Brillante Weblog" award; stop by my place to pick up the graphic, then spread the cheer to 7 others.