…with children. In many other circumstances, thirty days would just fly by – but when you’re staying in a hotel with your children, just making it to bedtime each day is an accomplishment. Here are some ways to do it without going to the loony bin.
Don’t judge me.
2: Paper Airplanes
These have the advantage of being very quiet. There are a lot of sites out there with great variations, but my favorite is a classic dart. It’s simple and it flies straight and far. Here’s one site to check out for planes.
I found some little bubbles at Wal-mart that had been intended for trick or treaters – I got a pack of twelve November 1st for half off – each little bottle only has about two teaspoons of bubble solution so that even if the kids spill it the mess is minimal.
4: Coloring Books, Crayons, and Paper
Aaah, coloring. A classic quiet activity.
5: Create Private Spaces
This is the challenge, isn’t it? Staying in a confined space together for so long, we’re all just dying for some privacy and alone time. On the face of it finding privacy in a hotel room may seem impossible, but we’ve found a few spots. Sometimes the kids pretend that under the table is their house, or we build them a suitcase and pillow fort. With a blanket or two, we can even pretend we’re in different rooms!
6: Bounce on the Bed
Well, we can’t let them jump on the floor, we’ve already had one complaint from the people downstairs about the noise. Jumping on the bed is quieter, lets them get some of their energy out, and who knows? They might actually be able to tenderize this mattress a bit!
7: Go to McDonald’s
Or Burger King, or any other restaurant with a play area. It’s climate-controlled with seats, there are bathrooms and water fountains, and there’s food right there if you get hungry. For maximum time with minimum purchasing of food, eat breakfast, go, play till lunch, eat off the dollar menu, play till dinner, then go back to the hotel. I brought my Kindle, and my kids got tired of the Playplace after three and a half hours. Score.
8: Make a ‘Theater’
Do you have a laptop or portable DVD player with you? Find one of those private spaces you created earlier and put the kids in with a movie – add a bowl of popcorn for bonus points! The rest of the room will be so quiet and still, you will be amazed.
9: Tell Stories
Charlie still thinks Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is scary, which I find very endearing.
10: Read to Your Kids
Yet another way to create a little peace and quiet, as long as you don’t mind reading that book again and again.
11: Visit the Library
It’s another place to go with climate control, chairs, bathrooms and water fountains (no food, though). If you’re in a hotel, you’re not going to be able to get a library card, but you don’t need one to read there. They may also have storytime or children’s activities, so check your local library.
12: Let the Kids Pretend
Why are they hanging their dress shirts on the lamps and making those weird sounds? Turns out they’re making “Halloween” over on the nightstand. It’s not neat and tidy, but we’re not exactly entertaining guests in here. Although, that reminds me…
13: Clean Up
You will feel more sane.
14: Make Friends
If you can, find someone friendly who will let you come over. Being in a house is like taking off shoes that are too tight – it feels sooooo much better, even if it’s only for a little while.
15: Go Shopping
Don’t want to spend your money? Who cares? In stores there are new things to look at, places to walk, and you can spread out! I have my kids do jumping jacks at Wal-Mart. Then, we go to the toy department and walk through each aisle veeeery slooowly. Stay out until you’re tired enough that seeing the inside of your room again will be a relief.
16: Controlled Release of New Toys
NEW is temporarily good for happy children. If you have a stash of travel toys the kids haven’t seen recently, hide it and pull out something new when things get cranky.
17: Shop the Dollar Store
How much is a happy, quiet child worth? If you said, “At least one dollar,” you are CORRECT! Take the kids to the dollar store and tell them they can each get one thing. Even if you do that once a week, it won’t be too expensive.
18: Pack a Picnic Lunch
It’s novel. It’s outside. You were going to have peanut butter sandwiches and raisins anyway, right? Why not make it fun?
19: Go to a Park
Depending on the weather this may not be doable, but if you can get out to yet another place the kids can run and play (for free!) then everyone will feel happier.
The bathtub has the invaluable advantage of being in the only separate room we have. Bath toys, paper boats, bubble baths, ANYTHING that will get the kids to stay in for more than five minutes is worth it.
21: Take Long Showers
This thing works both ways, and you’re not paying for the hot water. Stay in until you’re good and ready to come out.
22: Write Stories with Your Kids
We have a story called “Spiderman Fights the Bad Guys” in the works. Charlie told me the story, I wrote it down, and I drew pictures for him to color. It’s a good read. Max is planning one called “Batman and Robin and All Their Vehicles.” It should be gripping.
23: Play Singing and Clapping Games
The Itsy Bitsy Spider, Patty Cake, Oh Say Say Playmate, A Sailor Went to Sea, The Wise Man and The Foolish Man, Five Little Monkeys, Old MacDonald Had a Farm, B-I-N-G-O. All. Day. Long.
24: Card Games
You have a deck of cards, right? (No? Go get one. Okay then.) Well, that means you can play War, Memory, Go Fish, Solitaire…Speed, ERS and Slap Jack are not recommended for play with small – easily frustrated – children.
Get a roll of tape and suddenly those pictures your kids have been drawing can help personalize the room.
26: Food Bribes
I’m not saying it’s healthy, but Marshmallow Mateys have the kids happy when they get up in the morning, anyway. At night, they’ll eat their vegetables for nothing more than vanilla yogurt (suckers!) or a piece of leftover Halloween candy.
27: Scavenger Hunt
Who can find a dirty sock? A rattle? Trash that will be thrown away after the game? Who can see two red cars and a motorcycle drive past the window? Winner gets some Marshmallow Mateys!
28: Treasure Maps
Hide one of those new toys somewhere in the room while your kids close their eyes or wait in the bathroom. Then, give them a map to follow with landmarks around the room!
29: Crochet or Knit
How could I forget? Even if you have no supplies, cheap yarn and a hook will run you $3 at Wal-mart and you can get something to do with your hands and calm that nervous twitching your eyelid’s been doing for a week or two.
When you’re ready to throttle each other and everyone is at the other’s throats…stop. Get a hug and a kiss and take a deep breath. Hugs and kisses all around!