Some of the benefits of family road trips are obvious. Spend time together, relax, get away from it all, and just enjoy yourself. There was one benefit that I did not expect. Our family road trip taught my kids how to play again.
Unexpected Benefits of a Family Road Trip
My kids had forgotten how to play. Our days had become overscheduled and micromanaged. Whenever we had free time, my kids would complain that they were bored. They had rooms full of toys but they would choose to sit and do nothing until I planned an activity for them. Free play resulted in arguments and was simply miserable for everyone.
We pulled out of the driveway on a Sunday morning. We didn’t return until 19 days later. Our family road trip involved 12 destinations in 7 states. 9 nights in a tent, 3 nights in a cabin, 3 hotel stays, and 3 nights with family made for a lot of changes for our family.
The kids never once complained they were bored. There was a fair amount of crying from the youngest two while we were driving. Lily (age 3) did not appreciate being trapped. She and Aiden (age 7) had a box of books and toys in the seat between them. (See our DIY Magnetic Travel Activity Tray.) It upset her when she dropped things and could not reach them. She had to wait until we stopped before we could pick them up again. Elon (age 14 months) only cried when he was hungry or tired – he’s a pretty good car rider.
Every campsite was a new adventure. The Badlands had sand to dig in. The Black Hills had pinecones and sticks plus a girl from the neighboring campsite to explore with. Yellowstone had pinecones, pine needles, sticks, a mound of dirt, and two neighbor boys.
Campground entertainment: add dirt and pine cones to the table. Then sweep it off with some pine needles. The kids did this while we packed up and got ready to leave Yellowstone yesterday. It’s day 11 of our road trip and we’re headed to Flaming Gorge in Utah. . . #campingwithkids #campgroundgames #yellowstone #roadtrip #familyfun #familyadventure #familyvacation #kidbloggersofig #kbnmoms #momsoninstagram #playoutside #getoutdoors
There were plenty of trees and rocks to climb.
Flaming Gorge had loads of rocks to build with. Everywhere we went, they found new natural toys to enjoy. They used their imaginations as they engaged in play together.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when we returned home. I figured they would pick up their old routines and I would soon hear, “I’m bored.”
To my surprise, this hasn’t happened. We’ve been home for 2 weeks. It’s been crazy hot here (we’ve had an excessive heat warning all of this week and for a few days last week). That means we’ve been stuck inside for most of the days. We have been able to get out on 3 days and go on 2 hikes and run some errands. We’ve braved the heat one day and played in the water table.
The kids have been playing together on their own. Without my planning and without my interference.
Our family road trip taught my kids how to play again.
Being away from home really helped them focus on play. They had to rely on their imaginations and whatever props they could find in nature.
Now that we’re home, they are continuing to use their imaginations and engaging in lots of pretend play. More importantly, they have been playing together. All 3 of the kids are involved in the play. I just love watching what they create together.
I still plan activities for them every once in a while. We’ve been doing some activities from Camp Kindness (affiliate link). We read through the ebook, and they picked activities to do. Making nature potions was their favorite so far. They also made coffee filter butterflies. Next, on the project list is magic wand making.
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