Autumn is here and the Easter holiday break is fast approaching. For many families this means a trip to visit family and friends. Road trips are a long-standing holiday tradition for Australians and when you have children, the journey can be just as much of an adventure as the destination! So whether you are heading up the highway or hopping on a plane, here are some favourite musical tips to help you ensure “happy trails” for your family.
No matter the age of your child, thoughtful preparation, a stash of “en route” activities, child-friendly plans for your destination, and your own humour and flexibility will get you where you want to go. (I still remember sitting in a traffic jam on the motorway somewhere in the UK in 2002 and singing “We’re off to See the Wizard” over and over again to my 18 month-old son who was strapped in the back. As long as my sister and I kept singing, he was happy! These days music goes everywhere with us.)
Ahead of Time
Pack a music bag including:
- Crayons and paper and (quiet) instruments
- Children’s song books, books and e-books. You can even bring your Kindermusik books with you on your iPhone, iTouch, and iPad via Apple apps. The books are presented in a kid-friendly, picture-book reader format that allows children to turn and manipulate the pages themselves. The illustrations are clear and vibrant. Plus, one of the great features of each app is that you, a grandparent, a sister, a friend, or anyone can record your own voice reading the book. Kids love this feature!
- Favourite CDs for the car/iPod loaded with favourite songs (try http://play.kindermusik.com/ for some fantastic Kindermusik mp3 downloads)
- CDs/favourites and new recordings relating to your travels (e.g. Debussy’s “La mer” [“The Ocean”] for a beach trip or a CD of music from a country or area you plan to visit)
- At rest stops or in transit, rhythmic lap bounces to songs and rhymes help shake out the stiffness. (Try “Hop Up My Baby” from Kindermusik Village – Cock-a-doodle-MOO!)
- Infant massage accompanied by singing is beneficial after long jaunts in a car seat. (Try “Twinkle, Twinkle” or your favourite lullaby)
- Dance to release restlessness. Help your child move what he can (arms, legs, toes, nose, whole body, etc.) to music. (Try “Dance Little Baby” from Kindermusik Village – Dream Pillow)
- Sing about your trip or the weather. Sing favourite rounds. Make up songs together.
- Let your child enjoy colouring to the music on a CD.
At Your Destination
- Use your routines to create a home away from home. Bedtime lullabies and familiar nappy change or getting dressed songs can provide a comforting source of continuity.
- Collect musical souvenirs. Listen to them on the way home. Observe your baby for responses. Point out things you hear in the music to your toddler. Talk with your preschooler or young child about what she notices and likes about the music and try to imitate it.
- Collect postcards. On the return trip, take turns drawing cards from your “deck” of postcards and reviewing some of the fun you had there or singing a related song.
- Take a musical field trip. Is there a museum with interesting instruments or opera costumes? Is there a music festival, concert, or parade?
* Travel Trip Tips and activities updated and reprinted with permission of Kindermusik Distribution Australia (Kindermusik Australia New Zealand Parent Club Newsletter, June 2003)