Tips for the long road, a long wait or being bored at home

My Child and I editorial committee

Liven up long, boring sit-downs and create cheerful family bonding times!

  1. Calling the tune

Each family member gets to hum a tune and the others have to guess the name of the song. No comments on the singing allowed!

2.Magnetic games

Collect and play a variety of magnetic games available: Ludo, Snakes and Ladders, Chess, Battleships, etc.

3.Car Cricket

This game is based on the game of cricket in the sense that runs are scored and wickets taken. Vehicles driving in the opposite direction, provide the action. Certain scarcer vehicles, e.g. two luxury type German vehicles, score a “4” or a “6”. Another type of vehicle, e.g. a minibus or truck drops a wicket. All other vehicles that pass make a run. Decide before starting what the score of the different vehicles is going to be. Let Dad be first and then rotate clockwise. Together everyone counts how many ordinary vehicles pass, plus the fours and sixes. The moment a truck or minibus passes, the player is out. Each person has his turn and when you get back to Dad, he resumes his score.

4.Journey/Waiting bag

This can become a great thrill: Get a special bag or box for goodies only taken out when taking up the long road or a long wait. Place all kinds of fun things in it, e.g. colouring books and crayons, exercise scripts, drawing books, pens, pencils, small puzzles or games, activity books and any other items mentioned here. Glue paper in different colours, safe cute-shaped scissors, glue sticks and glitter glue make up an exciting travel bag. Make sure you have something new with each journey. However, do not discard the old ones. The pleasant rediscovery of that which captivated the attention the previous time, is worthwhile and will always be remembered.

5.Number plate words

Number plates with three letters and three numerals work well, but the newer combinations can also be used. Take turns and see how many words can be made up with the three letters in that sequence – you add other letters in between. Should the number plate be BRK 398 GP, you use the BRK. That can become broken, breakfast, brick, bracken and who knows what else.


Beforehand cut out a supply of jokes, anecdotes, short stories, quotations and riddles from magazines/newspapers. Paste these in and compile your own scrapbook of fun and laughter. Keeping such a scrapbook is a pleasant holiday activity which will entertain again much later.

7.I spy with my little eye

This well-known game is always a hit. Each one has a turn to say: “I spy with my little eye something that starts with a …” He then gives the first letter of the item, e.g. “B”. Everyone guesses until one finds the word “Bridge” or “Bicycle”. With younger children one should stick to colours, e.g. “I spy with my little eye something green”.

8.Make up stories

There are various options:

  • Give your children a theme by which they have to draw a story in pictures in a drawing book. They may also write a story in an exercise script.
  • Tell a story together. Each person adds a sentence. The next person continues the story by adding his sentence. It is fun to hear where the story leads.
  • Give each person an A4 page. Turn it sideways and fold 5 times in concertina style. Each one has to write an article (a/the) on the first page, fold it over and send on. Then follows the name of an animal or a human. Fold over and send on. Next each person writes a verb. Fold over and send on. Write an object. Fold over and send on. Now write down a place. Send on and fold open. Each person reads the sentence in front of him. A normal sentence will read: “The horse eats hay in the stable”. With this game a sentence could very well jumble to read: “The pig sleeps car in the school”!

9.Number plate game

See WHO is quickest at adding the three numbers on a number plate. (Do go gentle on juniors!)

10.Stickers and sticker books

Another suggestion for the travel bag: a new sticker book and a couple of sticker sheets can keep them busy for quite a while.

11.Build road maps

Before starting the journey, plot the route through the different towns on a sheet of paper. Each town will be indicated by a dot, which will then be connected by lines. Keep these lines in accordance with the distances on the actual map. When a town is passed, paste rectangular strips of glue paper on the road already travelled and a coloured dot or sticker on the town itself. This game gives children an idea of distances and helps them to see how much of the journey has been completed and what remains.

12.Discovering the country on the way there

Involve your children by checking beforehand which interesting places or sites are along the way. Stop and have a look at one or two places as a way of stretching the muscles and providing an excellent educational opportunity.

13.Nice reading time

Pack wonderful story books for reading aloud or for reading by themselves. Older children enjoy reading a magazine with topics of their individual interests. Keep it a secret; otherwise they finish reading before the journey has even started.

14.When do we eat, Mom?

Nowadays, for the sake of safety and convenience, everybody stops at the one-stop filling stations and have a meal in the restaurant. The same places usually have picnic spots, where it is more peaceful and the children can run around before having to sit down again. Pack a picnic basket and a flask of coffee as in the olden days. Naturally there is also the opportunity to open up the basket near a waterfall or river bank or even in the shade of a museum.

However, half an hour later hunger pangs will strike again! Make sure that children get a good helping of healthy, wholesome food. Prepare in advance an extra two surprise hampers for each child. Even this has to contain good and healthy food. Energy bars, dried fruit snippets, a small piece of dried wors, jelly sweets, peppermints and of course enough ice lollies to quench a long thirst. These packs are handed out to last until the end of the journey.

Enjoy the preparation, enjoy the journey and have a pleasant wait! And if you stay at home, let it be fun!

Adapted from the article first published in the Autumn Edition of My Child and I 2012


41 Hospital Street, Arcadia, 0083
PO BOX 40526, Arcadia, 0007
012 325 3920
084 383 9417

Join us here

Upcoming events

No upcoming events.

Stay up to date

Enter your email address to receive notification of news and relevant updates.