Traveling with Kids: Seek-n-Find Puzzles or Screens?

Did you take road trips with your parents as a child? 

Did you entertain yourself with seek-n-find puzzles, Mad Libs and place jelly bracelets in your mouth as braces just to be cool like I did? 

Did you travel far distances with your children this summer?  Well, I did and it made me think of what a different world we live in today.  Technology has changed everything —from how to look up a phone number to watching a tv show to entertaining yourself while traveling.  I might be secretly jealous I didn’t have that luxury as a child…but, darn it, put your phones down kids!

As a wee-little one, my mom, dad and I would vacation to Daytona Beach every year and bare the 18-hour drive.  I am not sure how my dad did it, but we would drive straight through with only him at the wheel. Being an only child, I often had the back seat to myself and I would bring a tote of things to do and organize “my station” (a little OCD coming out here!), loving almost every minute until maybe the 12th hour when I couldn’t sleep, had read all my books and colored so much my crayons were dull. Let me set the stage, cassette tapes and air-brushed, neon gear were it. Tina Turner was the women and one particular year I remember, she came out with her album, Private Dancer.  The entertainment that year was not Netflix and YouTube, but Tina’s raspy voice singing about heartache and love. That cassette tape was adored and played so much that the title faded away and became a joke for years to come. 

One specific memorable drive was when my mother joined me in the back seat, probably hour 14 when you become so delirious you start to laugh hysterically over the littlest thing. That was the year she taught me how to crack my knuckles. Yep, I might have been 8 or 9 years old. For what seemed like an eternity, my mother laughed with tears rolling down her face as she popped each new, virgin knuckle. Squirming in pain, I too was laughing because I was filled with so many emotions– exhaustion, anxiousness, excitement, now pain from the first crack of each knuckle. Oh, those were the days.

I tell you these stories because this is how we entertained ourselves many, many moons ago —not with technology or a screen, but with tic-tac-toe, seeing who could blow the largest bubble and remember that clear marker that would color each section of your art with the color it was intended to be? These days were priceless and so innocent, but gone it seems. I wish I could take technology away sometimes and my kids not miss a beat and understand how life should be.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I take them to the wilderness and restrict when I can, but we are faced with an insurmountable goal here, moms! 

We recently traveled to the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and the entire way despite my prompting of conversation, my children spent their time staring at a screen for entertainment.  Now, this would typically not be allowed in normal circumstances, but to keep the peace and have quiet so I could listen to my podcasts or jam to my tunes, I allowed it.  

Do you do the same?  

I tried to get them to read a book, draw a picture or write in a journal, but that lasts for just a few minutes and they claim boredom and turn back to their screens. I knew this would be the case, so I was smart this time around and rented a hotspot from the library so that they could enjoy truly what they wanted to and I could as well–peace and the sweet sounds of Pearl Jam or Michelle Obama narrating her book. (Yes, you can rent a hotspot for FREE from the Stark Library! You have to think of it far in advance to secure one, but you can.  The library actually has an amazing amount of similar things you can rent…who knew? Now, you do!)

 What do you do to limit technology? Please share your tips; I am an eager mom dying to learn.  

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