Chen May Yee swapped life as a foreign correspondent in Asia for domesticity in Minneapolis, where she lives with preschooler Maya, kindergartener Zoe and husband Chris, a stay-at-home dad. She writes about healthcare at the Star Tribune and hankers after warmer climates.

Kay Krhin makes daily attempts to balance doing more with less and less with more at work and home, more or less. She is married to multi-faceted modern man Peter and is a slightly seasoned mother to preschooler Ben and toddler Vivian.

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The unplugged road trip

Posted by: Kay Krhin under Family activities Updated: January 8, 2011 - 11:56 PM

We traveled to Illinois to be with my family over the holidays. I’m happy to report that we actually survived 5 hours each way without a portable DVD player. The only handheld devices we brought were crayons and books.  

The kids gazed out the windows taking in the winter landscape.   We heard the repeated  "Are we there yet?" and  "How many more minutes" long  before we even left the Minnesota border. Yes, I know they were bored at some points. But is that really so bad? Boredom begets creativity (and  bad sing-a-longs) and conversation. As I mention frequently on Cribsheet, we don't get to spend much time together as a family. A road trip our opportunity for some captive quality time without distractions. We played word games,  talked about the weekend with the cousins and fun things we plan to do in the new year. We realized we didn't even turn on the radio the entire way home.

Perhaps we were subjecting them to re-live road trips of our youth.  But would they have wowed in wonder at  the cool rock formations near Tomah, Wisconsin? Would they have asked questions like “ Hey, why do horses get to wear blankets, but cows don’t ?“  if they had a screen blinking in front of them?  Doubt it. 

Yes, I do eventually see a DVD player in the future for longer road trips (for everyone's sake). And  I realize there are plenty of educational handheld games out there. But I've been hesitant to get any and maybe my reasons are a bit selfish. Those games just seem like a gateway into losing your child into a string of electronic gadgets. I'm not ready.

At this young age, I'd rather lose them to a drawing pad, a puzzle or a seek and find  book. 

And the answer to the cow question?  I honestly have no idea.  Because, those are the cows they used to make ice cream?

 What are your road trip entertainment strategies? 

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