This Wednesday: Tips for passing time with kids.

Every Wednesday is Tip Day.
This Wednesday: Tips for passing the time with kids.

You’re with your kids, and you’re stuck in a long line at the drug store. Or waiting for a plane to take off. Or trapped in a car for two more hours. What to do?

Here are some ways to pass the time. Maybe they don’t all sound incredibly compelling to an adult, but I’ve successfully relied on them all many times:

This or That: would you rather eat a hotdog or a hamburger? would you rather be able to fly or breathe underwater?

Imaginary Bedroom: ask your child to imagine the perfect bedroom, complete with magical features.

Who Am I?: one person describes himself or herself as a familiar character—Wilbur, Hermione, Shrek—and the other person guesses the identity.

Name That Store (my invention): I feel like I’m indoctrinating the Big Girl in capitalist culture, but hey, it works. I ask her to come up with names for a pet store, a toy store. Strangely fascinating.

Twenty Questions: never fails to amuse.

Name Game: one person picks a person’s name, the next person has to think of a name that begins with the last letter of that name. Henry, Yolanda, Amanda…

Rock, Paper, Scissors: try the two-handed version for more challenge.

Hangman (if you have paper and pen): it’s more fun for kids if you pick a sentence instead of a word, because they get more hits that way.

Tic Tac Toe (if you have paper and pen): little kids love it, but it can be painful for adults, just too easy.

Other posts you might be interested in . . .

  • I’ll have to remember This or That. We do a lot of I Spy and Tic Tac Toe.

  • Helen

    I love these! The most important tip though is to remember to switch gears from being crazed mother trying to occupy kids, keep everyone quiet and happy, and move to being fully present in the moment. Kids magically switch from being energy drains to being delightful fun people I love being around! My life also changed when I made the family rule that saying “I’m bored” was no longer allowed. Our family now thinks that “stupid”, “bored” and “hate” are swear words….. the only person who occasionally resorts to using them is me. Sad but true.

  • I LOVE THIS LIST! Brilliant! I will have to remember these for our next road trip, or grocery store wait.

    Here is a nother interesting article that talks about happiness. Interesting that a counselor tells people “Happiness equals reality divided by expectations.” Interesting.
    The article is the cover feature on Burnout.

  • stever

    our favorite game is the Alphabet Game where you have to find signs with the first letter of the alphabet — and you can’t find another until you pass the first one (which is brutal when you see a sign for a X-Rays and the Zoo).

  • steph

    THANK. YOU. It is difficult sometimes, and this is very very good advice to have some games like this in your arsenal to deal with those times when you are tense and the kid is bored. This keeps everyone from losing it… or at least delays it for a while. 🙂

  • Try this link for some great ideas for car journey games. All them have pdf’s for printing off. Leave a set of them in the car so you are always prepared. It’s a UK based site so some ideas might need ‘translating’ for use elsewhere.

    Try this link for some great ideas for car journey games. All them have pdf’s for printing off. Leave a set of them in the car so you are always prepared. It’s a UK based site so some ideas might need ‘translating’ for use elsewhere.

  • AquaFender

    Awesome post. If we are somewhere where we can write or draw, my Hipster frequently comes to the rescue. I find that my 2-year old is easily bored by the coloring stuff that they hand out at restaurants, but if I hand him a stack of blank 3×5 cards from my hipster and my collapsible Zebra pen, he is much more entertained. I also keep a few photos of my kids (printed on 3×5 cards) in my hipster. He loves coloring his own face :).

  • These are great ideas! I love useful tips like these. Simple, but great!

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  • Kara

    Helen’s comment about “bored” being a swear word in her house reminds me of a strategy my mom tried one summer when she got sick of hearing “I’m bored!” all the time. She had my brother and I write down a long list of all the things we sometimes liked to do to amuse ourselves. Then she cut up the list, folded them up, and put them in a bowl (one bowl for each of us). That summer, any time we said “I’m bored,” we had to pull a slip of paper from the bowl – and we had to do whatever it said, whether we felt like it or not. The catch? Mom also got to put a list of chores in there. Most of the time I avoided saying I’m bored because I didn’t want to risk pulling out “wash the kitchen floor”! But even when I did say “I’m bored” (Sometimes I said it just for the fun of seeing what I would pull out of the bowl), my mom only had to hear it once before I was occupied for the afternoon. We only did it one summer when I was about 10, but after that, I was very conscious not to go around whining about how bored I was:)