Stickers May Save Your Sanity
by SM Ford
You’ve been there. You’re on a car trip—with preschoolers. Suddenly they lose interest in every item brought along to entertain them. No, they don’t want to play with construction bricks. No, they don’t want to listen to a story or sing songs. No, they don’t want to play a game. No, no, no. And the complaints: “He touched me.” “She hit me first.” “Did not!” “When are we gonna get to grandma’s?” Ad Nauseum. Your sanity is trembling. Will you survive the trip?
Hopefully so. And stickers might be one component that saves you. Secretly, before the trip, you’ve hidden a brand-new package of stickers in the car. (Don’t just buy any package—the more sheets per package and the more individual stickers per sheet the better!) Making it as interesting as possible, you announce to your cranky preschoolers that you have a surprise. Then give them each one to two sheets of stickers. (Obviously, your children must be old enough to know not to put stickers in their mouths.) Some parents may prefer to give their kids paper, too, but we found our preschoolers had the best time without it.
First, your kids stick a sticker on each hand. Then maybe their forehead, cheeks, or nose. If they don’t think of it, suggest it. Pretty soon they are laughing with each other at how funny they look. (You’ve thoughtfully provided a hand-held mirror for them to see themselves.)
Next, they might try plastering stickers to their clothes, the car seat, any window they can reach, etc. Don’t worry. Even if you let them use the whole package, these typically aren’t left in place. Before long stickers are stuck on stickers on top of stickers. Our girls usually ended up with one thick wad that was easy to throw away when they were through. And, if not, when you stop for lunch or at your destination, a quick minute is all that’s needed to remove forgotten stickers off the interior of the car.
A friend of ours used rolls of transparent tape in a similar manner. Kids love pulling tape off a roll, but how often does a preschooler get handed a full roll of tape with no limitations? This woman’s children would tape their fingers together, stick pieces to their clothes, their car seats, etc. By the time the roll was empty, her preschoolers, also, would have all the tape rolled up into an easily disposable ball.
The end result of stickers or tape is often a good 15-20 minutes of peace. The kids have enjoyed getting to do something they’d never get to do at home, and you’ve benefited from their absorption in the project. Either method is inexpensive, but the savings to your sanity is inestimable.
About the Author
SM Ford is a Pacific Northwest gal, who has also lived in the Midwest (Colorado and Kansas) and on the east coast (New Jersey). She and her husband have two daughters and two sons-in-law and three grandsons. She can't figure out how she got to be old enough for all that, however.
Sue likes traveling and animals, especially those in the cat family, and has a dog and cat who own her.
You can read Sue’s “Real Parenting” column on the 4th Thursday each month here at Pandora’s Box Gazette.