Silencing ‘Are we there yet?’s in Eagle County |

Silencing ‘Are we there yet?’s in Eagle County

Sarah Mausolf
Vail CO, Colorado
HL Entertaining Kids MO 04-18-08

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” When Eagle-Vail resident Leah Mayer’s son was little, keeping him occupied in the car was easy. She waited until just before naptime to start the trip, and her son quickly dozed off.

Now that her son is 7, he’s outgrown that trick.

Instead, Mayer entertains him by playing 20 questions or popping a “Mighty Ducks” movie into his portable DVD player. “Sometimes I’ll ask him to pack a bag of toys and he’ll pack it himself,” she said. “He’s always been a good traveler.”

No matter how good kids are with traveling, though, being cooped up in a car can test their patience. Without planning, a road trip can detonate a boredom bomb in the backseat.

“They can go stir-crazy and then it just makes your trip unbearable,” Mayer said.

That’s why moms have an arsenal of entertainment just for road trips. From Car-i-oke to count the cows, moms have all kinds of tricks for keeping the peace in the backseat. After all, their sanity depends on it.

“If you don’t plan ahead and you get in the car on the way to Denver and they don’t have anything to do, it’s torture for you,” Mayer said. “So it’s self-preservation.”

“Pimp My Minivan”? Several moms have added gadgets to their cars for the express purpose of amusing the kids. “We actually purchased an after-market video for the car, with two screens,” Avon mother Susan Bruno said. “I swore I would never do that but I did it and I would never go anywhere without it.”

DVD players: Roughly 75 percent of the kid-toting customers who come into Castle Peak Ford in Gypsum ask about DVD players, salesman Dave Manguso said. Most of the car models there come with a 9-inch DVD player between the two front seats, he said. A DVD player adds $900 to the car’s price tag, Manguso said.

Car-i-oke: Luckily, the kids aren’t old enough to get tanked and belt out “Sweet Caroline” at the bar. Of course, it’s never too soon to start training. All American Car-i-oke is a kit with lyric booklets and CDs for the backseat singer. It’s a suggestion from the founder of

Although gadgets are clutch, sometimes the old-fashioned games work best. Kentucky resident Laurel Smith started the Web site when her three children were little. A bunch of moms contributed road trip games. “If you’re on a really long road trip, you cannot watch 10 hours of movies,” Smith said. “You just can’t. They don’t want to do it. You have to have other activities.”

Surprise baggies: Prepare goodie bags for the children and give them out every 25 or 50 miles, Smith suggests. Pack each baggie with a snack or small toy or sticker. Tell the kids ahead of time how often they’ll receive baggies, and how many they’ll get over the course of the trip. “You can tell them ‘there are this many more surprise packages in the trip, and when you run out of packages, you’ve arrived,'” she said.

Bubble Gum blowing: Rest stops are stocked with all kinds of quirky things ” jerky, penny-smashing machines, creepy truckers. Head for the gum aisle to score hours of bubble-blowing entertainment. “When we stop for gas, we buy a lot of really weird gum and they love to do that because they don’t usually get that kind of a treat, except on a road trip,” Smith said.

Mad Libs: Mad Libs can be an awesome [adjective] activity for kids. “They’re just really easy to tote around,” Smith said. Children can work from booklets or make up their own fill-in-the-blank Mad Libs, she said.

Look, Mom: No equipment. These alternatives to fancy toys come from Lise O’Haire and Story Evans, authors of “TravelMates: Fun Games Kids Can Play in the Car or on the Go ” No Materials Needed.” O’Haire and Evans are moms from Atlanta, Ga. who wrote the book in 1997, when their children were young.

Thumping Thumbs: Two players lock right hands with all the fingers except the thumb. Players kick off the competition by saying, “One, two, three, I declare thumb war,” moving their thumbs on each count. The object is to see whether you can pin the other player’s thumb down with your thumb.

Anteater Alphabet Nonsense: The object is to go through the alphabet describing nonsensical things the anteater does. The first player starts by saying “A is for Anteater.” Each player, in turn, makes up something with one word about what happens to the Anteater, using the next letter of the alphabet. Examples: “A is for Anteater,” “B bit it,” “C caught it,” “D devoured it,” “E enjoyed it,” “F flaunted it.”

Math Magic: Surprise the kids by correctly guessing their secret number, using a mathematical formula. Ask each player to think of a number under 100. Tell them to: Multiply it by three. Add six to the answer. Divide it by three, and tell you the answer. The child’s secret number is always two less than the final answer. For example: 4 times three = 12; 12 + 6 = 18; 18 % 3 = 6; 6 – 2 = 4.

High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 748-2938 or

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