The Long Road Trip with the DVD Nanny

Telegraph UK Image: DVD for Kids. Photo ALamy

Telegraph UK Image: DVD for Kids. Photo Alamy

I wasn’t going to be one of those parents. You know, the ones who feel the need to ensure that their little preciouses are constantly entertained or amused, lest there be a moment of boredom.

So the car DVD player wasn’t going to be something you’d find in my vehicle. No, my children would be content to delightedly chat together, look at books, colour, join in sing-songs or be amused by looking for horses out the car window. Fast forward a few thousand kilometres too many travelled down the highways and byways of Canada and the moment it all changed – when my neighbour gave us the portable DVD player they weren’t using anymore. Well, I thought, thanks, I’ll just tuck this away and likely will never use it.

But then I thought, why not? Let’s make this a treat on our next car trip. We’ll only use it once, put it away, and then maybe use it again in a year or so. Well, fast forward another few thousand kilometres travelled down the highway on family vacations, and the portable DVD player has been added to my regular arsenal of car trip survival tools. (Right up there with frequent bathroom breaks, mystery toys from the dollar store and the occasional Timbit bribe.) I’ve learned to embrace the portable DVD player for what it is – a useful tool that if used wisely and not abused, is fairly harmless. After all, when I travel by plane for business, I don’t amuse myself by merely staring out the window or joining in sign-songs (much to the delight, I’m sure, of my fellow passengers.) If adults can watch movies on planes, what’s the harm of kids watching a DVD (or two, but never three, I swear!) over the course of a very lengthy car trip.

By Mary, GGC staff
Tell Us: What car games or ‘trick’s do you use to keep the kids busy on a long trip?

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5 Responses to The Long Road Trip with the DVD Nanny

  1. We recently broke the rule, too. My daughter now says she “no like” any car that does not feature a back of the seat dvd player. I also accidentally purchased fruit snacks last week that were not ‘real fruit’, and even contained traces of red dye # 5….and I still let her eat them. Bad(ass) Mom.

  2. dearfriends says:

    So in the olden days, before electronics, we sang made up operettas. The kids loved “breaking the rules” for reaching the high notes in the car, along with some very bad lyrics. “Lil’s little house in the cornfields” got us all the way across Nebraska one year. (Those gun-totting, cigar smoking cowboys visited Lil’s.) Imaginations with rule breaking seemed to a great combination. Thanks for asking—barb

  3. We sing a lot! We don’t have a cool car either with the built in DVD. We used to bring our portable DVD player with us on trips longer than 1 hour but we found the kids got frustrated because they couldn’t see properly anyway so it comes with us sometimes but no one wants to use it:) Instead my ipod, which connects to the car’s stereo system, is loaded with their favorite kid songs & my mom approved pop songs. Lately I’ve found Michael Mitchell who has recorded great traditional Canadian songs for kids. My kids most requested lately, ages 9 & 5.

    Getting back to basics is the treat for plugged in kids! They talk and sing & nap. We are all part of the journey and we all are present, not preoccupied. Often we will have discussions about interesting things we see along the way. I usually hear about friendships and what’s going on with them. ‘I spy’ is known to spontaneously break out and we are looking forward to the day when my 5 year old finally learns that he can’t pick things outside of the car.

    When I was a kid we lived in BC and seemed to be on the road to somewhere every weekend in the summer and when we moved to Ontario we were on the road to Florida most years to visit my grandparents. My sister & I did the same as my kids do today. We sang, we talked, we napped. We played games like ‘red car, blue car’ & ‘2 door, 4 door’ for hours. Sometimes we fought. Kids today are no different. It’s parents who have changed.

  4. Kaarina says:

    Great article. I feel the same way (no way am I going to have a DVD player in my car) but I’m not a parent (yet) and this article may have changed my mind.

  5. duncanfaber4 says:

    We have 5 kids, so travelling is always an ordeal. We download lots of audiobooks for their ipods. It’s so much better than having them watch dvds. There’s lots of sites where you can get them, but we found one that we like a lot because the stories are all original and they’re free. This is the link if anyone is interested.

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