(Photo: Getty & Erik Mace/Yahoo Travel)
Flight delays, hours of traffic, and bustling crowds are the least of your concerns when you’re getting out of town with your kids. Of even greater importance is how to keep the under-10 crowd busy. As any parent knows, the key to warding off frustration boils down to three simple words: “Distract, Distract, Distract.”
In fact, you could say that I wrote the book on it. As the mother of a strong-willed child who always frustrated easily, I penned the book “No Biggy!” — which is all about dealing with frustration. “No Biggy!” has become a regular mantra in our home.
So whether taking off on a lengthy flight or hitting the road, here are my must-haves (other than the ubiquitous electronics) to help manage any meltdowns.
Scratch and Sketch Art Activity Book
A fun-filled art book. (Photo: Rainbow Resource Center)
With such themes as Under The Sea, Ancient Egypt, Rain Forest, and Solar System, there’s something for girls and boys of all ages in these information packed coloring pages from Rainbow Resource Center. Kids simply use the attached wooden stylus to scratch out the black outer layer on each page revealing colorful, creative designs. Great for: ages 3-10.
Everyone loves to give this guy a squeeze. (Photo: Therapy Shoppe)
Squishy balls have provided relief for adults for years. Ultra useful for kids, too, these toys from the Therapy Shoppe help to calm and decrease stress. Plus, it’s tough for any tot to resist the irresistible funny-face. Just squeeze that frustration away. Great for: all ages.
Be Kool Stick On Sheets
This will keep your kids cool. (Photo: Drugstore.com)
Flying and driving can cause motion sickness. These trusty stick-on, cooling sheets from Drugstore.com provide immediate relief with no refrigeration needed — and they easily pop into any handbag. This is just what you need when kids feel icky, have a fever, or just need a little extra distraction. Great for: all ages.
Tasty Brand Fruit Snacks
A healthy – and tasty — snack. (Photo: Tasty Brand)
When it comes to kids (and adults!), sweets pack quite a powerful punch. You can feel better about giving them these portable, organic gummies from Tasty Brand. Loaded with vitamin C, vegan, and free of gelatin, they’re made with organic fruit juice and nary an ounce of fake colors. Bet you can’t find a kid who can resist the colorful packaging and array of fun flavors. Great for: all ages.
Wooden Fidget Puzzle
Twist and shout (or not). (Photo: Office Playground)
Combat frustration and keep little hands busy with this clever little manipulative toy from Office Playground. It can be twisted and turned into many different patterns, keeping kids occupied and entertained. It’s also helpful with dexterity and problem solving. (Many adults like to borrow this toy to use as a stress-reliever, too!) Great for: ages 3-7.
Firefly Light Up Toothbrush
Great teeth — and a great mood. (Photo: Firefly Toothbrush)
Yes, even something as simple as a toothbrush can provide a welcome distraction. Designed with a variety of themes, from Star Wars and Spiderman to Hello Kitty and Angry Birds, the flashing lights and sound effects on most of the Firefly Toothbrush styles help keep little ones engaged. Great for: ages 2-4.
Fill in the blanks! (Photo: Mad Libs)
The classic goofy Mad Libs word games have been around since 1953 and are a forever favorite for good reason: they’re educational, encourage creativity and provide loads of entertainment. During our last flight my family and I played for almost two hours. That was two hours of straight fun, with no meltdowns in sight. Great for: all ages.
Sophie The Giraffe Teether
Sophie, a French toy that has gone global. (Photo: Pottery Barn Kids)
Safe and made from 100-percent natural rubber, the beloved Sophie toy has been soothing and entertaining little ones for many years. It’s also BPA and phthalate-free, meaning it doesn’t contain any harmful materials. Sophie makes a cheerful sound when squeezed which is said to stimulate hearing and help with cause and effect. Great for: ages 0–12 months.
Related: Pack Like a Pro: Family Edition
Young Living Essential Oils
Peace and calm, guaranteed. (Photo: Young Living)
Love how a whiff of freshly sliced cucumber or oranges can instantly perk things up? It’s well documented that the science of scent is powerful stuff. Essential oils are said to activate the limbic system — the brain’s center of emotion and memory, and can help bring balance and joy. Dab a few drops of Young Living’s Peace and Calming blend in the palms of your hands and inhale deeply several times to aid in relaxation. The oils can also be massaged into the feet and neck for extra soothing. Great for: all ages (and mom and dad, too).
Elycia Rubin is a lifestyle expert, frequent television guest, and three-time published author. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter (@ElyciaRubin) and visit her website, www.WhatImLoving.com
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