Family Time Calendar: Boredom Bags

If you're hitting the road with the kids in tow, Emily Kaufman, author of The Travel Mom's Ultimate Book of Family Travel (Broadway Books, 2006), has some advice for you.

Boredom bags are my answer to "Are we there yet?" To make one, fill any bag, knapsack or shoe box with your children's favorite diversions. I have also used cosmetic bags, which are handy because they zip. If your kids are young, then you will have to assemble the boredom bags for them, but most older kids like to fill their bags themselves. For them, suggest including puzzle books or regular books, and perhaps let each child select a brand-new book for the trip. Kids also like Magna Doodles, doodle pads and Mad Libs books. Many school-age kids love to color and draw. Bring along a coloring book or pad of paper and a baggie of crayons, markers or colored pencils. I also suggest some sort of tray or surface they can lean on -- cookie sheets work great, and they work for magnetic toys and games. If kids are seated closely enough, they may even be able to play cards. If your children like to listen to music, suggest they bring their CD headset or MP3 player. If you have either a built-in DVD player or a small portable one, bring a selection of movies. Small children relax when they are watching something familiar -- and you know how a four-year-old can enjoy her tenth viewing of Finding Nemo! Mariam, the mother of a three-and-a-half-year-old, also suggests bringing what she calls "long" movies and "short" movies. The short movies -- 25 to 35 minutes long -- often serve as a way for her daughter to relax before falling asleep in the car. Longer movies -- those that run an hour or two -- require keener attention.

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