The initial days of my travels as a single dad with my son saw me carry board games and loads of activity books. Even though these games and books were a happy break from the routine, they were part of regular activities at home, and the routine lacked that aha factor. My son preferred being indoors over sightseeing during our trips. So we ended up spending more time at the resort or hotel. Soon this posed the challenge of keeping him engaged while staying indoor. These are some of the ideas that worked on him when he was 6 to 8 years old. These are just seeds for your thought to understand, engaging a kid is restricted only by your imagination.
Tip #1 of 6
This was the first activity I discovered by accident while waiting for an order in the restaurant. Not a raw vegetable eater like many kids, the entertainment started with the complimentary salads. Mixing, cutting, garnishing with sauce initiated a good fun activity which spread to lotions, coffee powders in the room. We have been frowned upon in star resorts for making a mess on the table which did not stop us either. In fact this activity has tickled the little chef in him and I notice seeds of interest in cooking within him now.
Tip #2 of 6
Those extra pillows in all shapes and sizes are a good source of entertainment while in room. Being a late 70s kids, I grew up playing them. If it was fun building fortresses, “crawl-able” tents, shakey house roofs. More fun when the structures collapsed. It did indirectly help me in teaching him, there is fun in being messy but responsibility in putting things back in their place.
Tip #3 of 6
This game just evolved when we were just goofing around with the notepads in the room. Each one gets to draw one stroke at a time. It could be in any shape or format. We continue drawing in turns until the drawing converges into something meaningful. Most of the time the meaning had a funny story to it, like ‘an old owl with one ear bitten by a bee’, ‘a fire snake man’, ‘bat maid’. The game took a twist when either of us tried to hijack the theme. I try to make it a funny meaningful one while he tries to add the gory action to it. I had to retire this game when it took a different turn of making the picture more violent.
Tip #4 of 6
This is an activity I follow even now during our trips. I let him do the check-in formalities. The fun part he enjoys is inventing a new signature for every place we visited. He picked up this enthusiasm when he saw me religiously trying to get my signature correct in a cheque. He wanted to get his own signature in place and this was a good place to try all styles. The tailed ones were the most famous while stars around the word were used at times. I also let him sign the bills and check the cost while doing so. This started giving him the picture that travel is not cheap and he agreed to control expenses at times. Hoping to build on this in future to bring in him a sense of expenses and controlling it.
Tip #5 of 6
During the course of our early travel I started realizing that he enjoys travel and I can use this interest to impart some good vibes in him. I wanted him to appreciate the little things we do and see in our trips. So encouraged him to write short travelogues. In fact some of these travelogues expanded to become projects he would present in his school. More than anything it helped in bonding when we were back home going over old travel memories.
Tip #6 of 6
There will always be time in trip when I would need some silent time. So I created this mime game where we exchange written notes instead of talking. It could be for planning for our next meal or just some random talk. We have fought, expressed our love and quizzed each other through this game. It helped the not so expressive child to get more expressive. This in fact has become a good platform for us to vent or apologize during our parent child spats.