Running Errands with Kids? Here Are Some Easy Ways to Pass Time in the Car


As much as I agree with the phrase, “half the fun is getting there,” sometimes it’s still no fun being stuck in the car. Especially when running errands. Besides, that saying disregards the other part of the trip – coming home – which can often seem even more mundane.

For kids, car rides can be agonizing. At least you’re sitting behind the wheel and have something to do, like focusing on driving. Kids, on the other hand, can feel trapped.

Finding ways to pass the time on a long road trip seems easier in some respects. Most parents have figured out how to play that game: movies, electronic gadgets, and books are some of the tried-and-true, surefire ways to promise sanity for everyone.

But what about those everyday jaunts around town when the kids seem to be at each other’s throats? I realize 15-20 minute drives here-and-there aren’t all that long, but keeping it an upbeat experience will make you a happier parent. It will also help you build your chops for when you really need it, such as a carload full of kids on class trip.

Surely, there must be some crafty techniques for diverting kids’ attention to things more productive than bickering while belted. You’ve come to the right place because indeed there are. And you may have forgotten about some of these tried-and-true pastimes.

Image via Pixabay

Alphabet Game – This one works great because it involves everyone working as a team. The goal is to find, in alphabetical order, items along the way outside the car: Apple tree, Billboard, Car, Dog, etc. You get the idea. The real fun for you is knowing they’re learning the alphabet, or at least honing their Scrabble skills.

I Spy – While it can be challenging to play this game by focusing on objects outside the car, it works solidly with everything inside. What’s more, it teaches your kids to be super observant and to notice the little details before their eyes.

Snacks – Yes, I know this involves a little preparation, and some parents have a strict “no eating in the car” policy – and with good reason. But tooling around town can be a great time to give them vegetables. If they’re really as hungry as they say they are, they’re destined to eat those veggies you struggle to give them at mealtime.

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Sing – No, I didn’t say turn on the radio; I said “sing.” There’s a difference because here you can control the song. Imagine the fun you’ll have with your kids and the smiles you’ll bring to people’s faces at stop lights.

License Plate Game – See who can find the most different state plates, which is admittedly easier if you live within 30 minutes of a state line or in a touristy area. Another variation is to see who can find the most vanity plates, certain colored plates, etc.

Maps – The next time you’re at a rest stop, grab a variety of state maps. You’ll be amazed at how long kids will look at them and enjoy finding funny sounding towns. It’s also a great way to learn how to read a map and doing it on your own without the aid of GPS.

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How do you pass the time while running errands with your family?

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Running Errands with Kids? Here Are Some Easy Ways to Pass Time in the Car

Tom Konecny is a dad of four children and husband to wife, Erika. Tom currently serves as a private consultant in writing, communications and marketing. In 2013, Tom founded Dad Marketing, a site dedicated to exploring the world of marketing to dads. He previously worked in sports marketing, served as an associate editor and writer for several publications, and directed an award-winning corporate marketing department. His first book, "DADLY Dollar$" will be published this summer, and he is c ... More

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