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How to avoid the dreaded “Are we there yet?”

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“Are we there yet?”

“Are we there yet?” No other phrase can make a grown adult want to scream! I remember asking it myself as a kid, and my parents groaned, and I never understood why.

So why do kids all ask, “Are we there yet?”.

My theory on the never ending “are we there yet?” is that young kids really have no grasp of time. You can tell a young child that it is going to be 2 hours until you are there, and you might as well have said 200 hours or 20 minutes.

When my kids were very young (under 5) I would try to frame time in terms they understood. I would tell them that it was only one episode of “Blue’s Clues” or 4 “Dora’s” longer. It seemed to help them frame the overall time. But unless your trip is only one “Blue’s Clues” they are going to ask again.

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As your kids reach elementary school age, it can be useful to give them a watch or make a clock very visible. I would then write down our approximate arrival time on a piece of paper I would tape on the seat in front of them. This helped my especially antsy son and helped remind him so he didn’t continue to ask every few minutes!

How to entertain your kids on long trips

My next tip is to break up long car rides into 30 minute sections and give them something new to play with every half hour. I would do a mix of dollar store toys, books I could read to them, coloring or sticker books, a favorite DVD, snacks, or song time. My kids favorite thing when they were small was Little Passport If you haven’t heard of it, check out the link. That allowed them to concentrate on smaller chunks instead of hours. As the kids have gotten older, I still try to have something to break up trips longer than 5-6 hours. They still like candy, movies, and even coloring books!

I also recommend trying to break up long trips. When the kids were very young, we would try to have something to do every 2 hours on long trips. We might stop at something as simple as a grocery store and let the kids pick out a treat. Other ideas are playgrounds close to your route, museums you can check out in less than 30 minutes, fast food locations with indoor playscapes, even rest stops where there is room to get out and move.

Just like anything you do with your kids, practice makes perfect. My kids can now go 15 hours in a car without once asking how much longer or complaining. Of course they can all read a clock and their concept of time is very solid, but they were doing great by the time each of them was 7 or 8. Keep working at it because the payoff is great family road trips with no more, “Are we there yet?”!

Happy Travels!

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11 Comments

  1. Cute Institute™
    September 11, 2018 / 3:12 pm

    I loved this!! You made me giggle out loud when you said you told your kids it would be 1 more “Blues Clues” episode longer!! That is language my little gang would completely understand. I’m so glad that your kids now have no problem riding 15 hours in a car without going stir crazy. It gives me hope that one day we’ll be able to get there too. I haven’t checked out Little Passports, yet. I’ll add that to my list of things to look into before our next excursion. Thanks so much for publishing this!

    • travelswiththecrew
      Author
      September 11, 2018 / 3:39 pm

      Thanks for your comment. It did seem overwhelming when the kids were little. I thought they would never be good in the car, but little by little they found things about it that they loved! Keep it up!

  2. September 11, 2018 / 4:16 pm

    I love your idea of breaking things up in 30 minutes! We also measure time in episodes, but it is Sofia episodes in our case! And I never thought of using a museum as a pit stop! Thanks for your tips!

    • travelswiththecrew
      Author
      September 11, 2018 / 5:19 pm

      I’m glad you enjoyed it! We have had a lot of experience with this and have had to figure it out.

  3. September 11, 2018 / 5:02 pm

    This is super helpful! A few times a year my family takes a road trip about 7 hours away, so I’ll be sure to hang onto these tips! And 15 hours is seriously impressive!

    • travelswiththecrew
      Author
      September 11, 2018 / 5:19 pm

      My kids are at a place where they actually enjoy road trips!

  4. September 11, 2018 / 7:11 pm

    Thank you for sharing! We went on a 12 hr road trip this summer and twenty minutes in the five year old was asking if we were there yet. In fact sometimes he asks if we’re there yet on the way to target lol , love these ideas!

    • travelswiththecrew
      Author
      September 11, 2018 / 7:18 pm

      Thanks for the comment. 5 year olds just struggle with any minute they aren’t actively entertained! At least mine did.

  5. September 28, 2018 / 2:16 am

    Long car trips are the opportunity for naps for me lol. Listen to music, read, reflect and sleep. I can imagine the ingenuity to keep kids occupied on long trips. I’m taking notes lol.

    • travelswiththecrew
      Author
      September 28, 2018 / 2:17 am

      Thanks for your comment! I also take naps between giving out goodies.

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