One of my brothers-in-law got married in New York this month. The boys were asked to be in their wedding, which meant we had to take them along on a 6 hour road trip (which, with kids and a mom with bladder issues, was 8.5-9 hours long).
I’m not a fan of bringing DVDs along on car trips, mostly because Mr Boots will immediately start one before we even leave the driveway. It’s never on my list of things to bring because while short trips are a nightmare, longer ones aren’t always horrible. I think because the boys are excited about where we are going or are too exhausted to stay awake on the way back. Digital entertainment is usually one of the last things I want to resort to on trips.
We survived 3-4 hour trips without DVDs before, but this trip would be twice as long. I wasn’t going to oppose setting up the DVD player, but I didn’t want the boys glued to it for 8 hours either. When I went to our city’s semi-annual consignment sale, I bought a few “new” DVDs with our New York trip in mind. And knowing we’d have long dinners and rehearsals to attend, I figured our LeapFrog tablet might also be handy to have. I packed these things up and kept the bag in the back of the car out of sight.
But I also hit up our local Dollar Store and bought some things to keep the boys occupied without a screen.
I got it in my head that the boys needed a tray of some sort to draw or play on, but I was having a hard time finding something inexpensive. I was looking at pictures of DIY chore charts and realized, I could use a cookie sheet. My plan took off from there. $6 later, I left the dollar store with 2 cookie sheets, dry erase markers, and 2 zipper pencil pouches. When I got home, I went through the letter and animal magnets we have for our magnet board and put all the smaller pieces into the pencil pouches.
I was nervous that the cookie sheets would be too cheap for the dry erase markers to erase completely, but they worked out great! It was great not having to haul a bunch of paper, coloring books, and crayons with us. The magnets on the dry erase markers meant they didn’t roll away as easily and the boys didn’t seem too bothered by only three color options.
L lost interest after a while and opted to play with other toys and look out the window for trains and waterfalls (we saw many once we got into northern Pennsylvania). But G used his almost the entire time. He drew pictures of his Uncle and soon-to-be-aunt. He even practiced writing out my phone phone number (which he’d just memorized for school) and the ABC’s. He asked how to spell words of the things he was seeing out his window. He arranged the letters in his pouch to try and make words as well. It was amazing.
The cookie sheets doubled as a tray for the boys to place food on for snacks or as a surface for coloring (my mom bought them some awesome Melissa and Doug ColorBlast travel activity pads that were a huge hit).
Guys, I spent SIX DOLLARS and the boys were entertained for the majority of the 8.5 car ride from Virginia to New York.
We never watched the DVDs I brought along. The boys never even asked until we got to the hotel and they saw them in one of our bags.
Which was excellent because we totally forgot the DVD player. (HAA!)
We never took the LeapFrog tablet out either. The boys had too much fun with their extended family and cousin to care. The only thing we needed while we were out were the Melissa and Doug activity pads.
I was nervous about the car ride home – would the cookie sheet idea lose its appeal before it was time to turn around and go home? Luckily, it didn’t. We brought them into the hotel with us and kept them off to the side so we didn’t have them in the car when we were out and about, which may have helped. Like I anticipated, the boys were exhausted by the time we headed home, so they did some sleeping on the way back, but they also seemed to have a good time playing with the new toys they were given as early Easter gifts from their grandma and aunt. G played with the tray, but nothing like the trip up.
Seeing as they were only $1, the cookie sheets did bend and crease easily. They definitely got a little beat up by the end of the entire trip, but not so much that we won’t be able to use them again. I’m still blown away that $6 at the dollar store kept them so occupied they didn’t even ask to watch movies. (This time 😉 )