The daily commute with your little ones can actually be precious time for you to spend together during your busy day.
Being prepared and knowing how to make the most of your time together is vital to ensure you and your little ones enjoy your time together, and have a stress-free journey without the frustrations of boredom and hunger.
Krissy Andrew, Centre Manager at Guardian Early Learning Group’s new Barangaroo Centre in Sydney’s CBD, shares her tips on how to make the most out of the commute with your children each and everyday.
Treat travelling time as family time
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Think of your commute as a solid block of uninterrupted family time. In the car or on a bus or train there’s no running off into bedrooms, no Lego or tablets or anything, really. Instead of daydreaming while stuck in traffic in the car or burying your head into your phone on the bus, take this precious time together to really enjoy each other’s company. This is your chance to ask about each other’s day and listen to the answer without interruption. It’s a time to play I Spy games, read books without one of you falling asleep, or simply chat about the world outside your windows.
Travel games can pass the time, keep children entertained and also offer some great learning opportunities, so it’s a win-win, really.
Here are a few travel game suggestions:
• “I spy with my little eye” fosters attention to detail and also helps with letters and sounds
• The number plate game involves nominating a letter then finding a number plate that includes that character. Another good one for letter recognition.
• The alphabet game (A for apple and air conditioning, B for banana and so on)
• Collaborative storytelling is a creative way for the entire car to contribute to and build upon a story. You might start with a line to kick things off then everyone takes turns to add their version of what happens next.
• Train/bus bingo. This is essentially a scavenger hunt whereby you come up with a list of things your children might see on the commute and each item is ticked off when it is spotted.
Put together a commute bag
This might include books, small toys, activity or colouring pads and even some problem solving tasks for children. The key to a successful commute bag is to reserve its contents for travel only, giving each toy or activity exclusive status.
Hungry kids (and adults) do not make pleasant travelling partners. Packing healthy snacks will keep children happy without ruining their appetite.
Vanessa Schuldt, Accredited Practising Dietitian from Nutrition Speak shares her ‘better-for-you’ snacks that will help to refuel children’s brains and bodies after a day of learning and activity, while still leaving plenty of room to fill their tummies with a healthy dinner.*
• Plain popcorn- An awesome ‘wholegrain’ snack with high fibre and antioxidant content.
• Home-made ‘trail pack’- Pack sultanas, mixed nuts, sunflower or pumpkin seeds and popcorn into a zip-lock bag to keep it fresh and easy.
• Chunky fresh fruit salad- Go for easy to eat fruits such as mandarin segments, grapes, bananas, rockmelon chucks, blueberries and apple segments.
• Vegetable sticks- Try carrot or celery sticks with a healthy dips like hommus or tzatziki
• Rye or chia mountain bread with avocado- assemble and roll up this thin flat bread before you leave work/home to collect with your munchkin. Cling-wrap is to keep it fresh.
Travelling to childcare and school doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task. By planning ahead and treating travel time as the perfect opportunity to spend un-interrupted time together, it can make commuting the best time of the day for both you and your children.
*As with introducing any new food into you child’s diet, please take their developmental readiness and skills in chewing into account and always supervise your child as they eat.
What other tips would you include for a long commute?
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Picture: Courtesy Guardian Early Learning