My Secret To a Silent Car with Young Kids


My Secret To a Silent Car with Young Kids | Twin Cities Moms Blog

I love car rides. I mean, I LOVE car rides with my kids! It’s just a pair of yoga pants and Netflix short from being my happy place. But it wasn’t always such a pleasure cruise.

Car rides used to be a mobile mommy prison where my kids (4 years old and almost 2 years old) finally had me cornered like a terrified animal. Then they would pummel me with question after question after question. And then the same questions over and over and over again. And stuff like,

“Mommy can you hand me the thing I just dropped?”

“No, I’m driving the car.”

“Mommy, watch this!”

“I can’t, I’m driving the car.”

“Mommy, did you see that?”

“What?”

“That! That thing! That thing right there! It looks like a shape and has a color!”

“Yup. It’s very ambiguous-y.”

But that’s all in the past now! My mini-van is my mommy sanctuary where I can actually hear my own thoughts, despite my kids being in the car with me. We can drive at least an hour (haven’t tested it further yet) with absolutely no toys or tablets for entertainment for either one. Yes, even my crazy high energy almost 2 year old boy sits still for that long (70% because he’s strapped in). So what’s my secret? Lean in real close and I’ll whisper it…

Audiobooks.

Don’t roll your eyes and think I’m some old grandma sitting by the radio listening to the nightly programs. I mean, I don’t deny that, but just hang on! Audiobooks are not what you think they are. Sure they have the classic books–Treasure Island, The Wizard of Oz, Chronicles of Narnia, and more–but they also have shorter books like The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo’s Child, Where the Wild Things Are, Harold and the Purple Crayon, The Snowy Day, Llama Llama Red Pajama, Strega Nona, Dr. Seuss’ classics and many more. We listen to the short ones during our regular car rides and my car is silent until we reach our destination. Just today we finished one right as we arrived at a park to play and my daughter asked to listen to another! My son listens too and every so often repeats the words or phrases. I swear, his vocab has boomed since we switched to audiobooks in the car!

Now here’s the best part where you’re going to turn your head a bit in disbelief and say, “Really?!” They also have Disney movies on audiobook. Recent Disney movies. As in Finding Dory (which is still in theaters!), Zootopia, Frozen, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Descendants, Big Hero 6, Inside Out, etc. Our family has two road trips this month, one is three hours and the other five hours. Guess what we’ll be doing for entertainment!

My Secret To a Silent Car with Young Kids | Twin Cities Moms Blog

So where does one get ahold of these listening gems?

  1. Your local library has children’s books on CD that you can check out just like you would a book. I like to use our library’s online catalog and place holds. When they’re available, the library gathers your selection, places them on a shelf near the front of the library, and emails you when they’re ready. You go in, grab your books, check them out, and you’re done within 3-5 minutes even with squirmy kids in tow.
  2. Hoopla is another great and free option through your library. It’s an app that allows you to digitally check out videos, music, ebooks and audiobooks. We currently have the Finding Nemo audiobook checked out. If your library doesn’t offer it, ask that they do. Our library also has audiobooks available on Playaway Audiobooks (an actual audio player you check out) and OneClick Digital.
  3. Audible.com is a huge resource and reasonably priced. You can get a free 30-day trial and one credit (i.e. free book). Otherwise, it’s a monthly fee of about $15 and you get one credit per month, which is a pretty decent deal because you can use that credit on books/collections of books that they regularly sell for much more. I got the entire Chronicles of Narnia with my last credit, and it’s regularly $41! Most Disney ones are $9.76, Harry Potter books are around $30, and the shorter books like The Gruffalo are $.99 or less. After I used my credit, I bought several shorter, older books for $.44-$.69. #TotallyWorthIt
  4. Another free option is to subscribe to Podcasts. There’s a huge variety of Podcasts for kids from educational to fun and silly. I subscribe to The Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd, But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids, Tumble Science Podcast for Kids, Brains On! Science podcast for kids, Stories Podcast–A Free Children’s Story Podcast for Bedtime, Car Rides, and Kids of All Ages, Storynory–Stories For Kids, and Sparkle Stories Podcast.
  5. Adventures in Odyssey is a an audio show, not just a reading, that focuses on character-building and aims to teach lasting truths. For us, it also lines up with our faith values. You can listen to recent episodes for free online or catch it on the radio (look up showtimes here).

And here’s a couple bonus tips in case you are doing a road trip like we are:

  1. Some libraries also offer tablets called Playaway Launchpads. They have different apps on them, and they don’t require the Internet. We checked out one called “A-Maze-Ing Mind!” and it has several maze and puzzle apps on it. Different tablets have different themes. Our library allows us to have it for a week before it’s due.My Secret To a Silent Car with Young Kids | Twin Cities Moms Blog
  2. If your kids are going to be coloring or playing with toys, I recommend using either a tray or even just a cookie sheet from the Dollar Tree. Using a silicone baking mat or silicone placemat on the tray makes it much harder for toys to roll off and when coloring it holds the paper in place.

Happy listening!

12 Responses to My Secret To a Silent Car with Young Kids

  1. Kate August 10, 2016 at 7:41 AM #

    Yes!
    This really works. I love driving with my kids. Years ago my sister taught me this one: “I’m driving and it’s not safe for me to not be watching the road.” Magically words that have reinforced responsible driving thousands of times for my little ones although they are a long way off from driving themselves.

  2. busymom4 August 11, 2016 at 11:15 AM #

    audio books are great! Lets a child dream, look out the window, use their imagination and learn the importance and value of “peace”, and hear a good story! Don’t get into the video game/tablet trap….will only cause problems for your kids in the long run. They must learn to self soothe, and entertain themselves. They will not learn this with a screen in their face! Our best conversations are in the car, my kids know every word to every song on the radio (oldies!) and they have an acute sense of where they are (directions!). Children/teens aren’t learning the rules of the road….biggest complaint from drivers ed teachers is that kids nowadays have NO idea about rules of the road, driving etiquette because they have not paid attention while in the car (too much screen time). Just my 2 cents!

    • Kim
      Kim August 16, 2016 at 1:12 PM #

      It’s been great for vocab too! My son (almost 2) has been talking so much more since we started, and my daughter (4 years) will ask what words mean or why did such-and-such happen. It’s great that they’re listening, imagining, and interacting with it!

  3. Melinda August 11, 2016 at 2:11 PM #

    I’ve been doing this for years, and it really works. I’m not sure why, but it does. We just finished Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, but we’ve also listened to the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and Farmer Boy and Little House in the Big Woods and A Wrinkle in Time. Next up is Dr. Seuss (I didn’t even think of looking for an audiobook by him!)

    • Kim
      Kim August 16, 2016 at 1:09 PM #

      A Wrinkle in Time! I’ll have to find that one!

      My daughter also likes Pippy Longstocking and they both just love Frog and Toad! They have it memorized. They’re such a hit I’ve even considered recording myself reading short books just so we have more options in the car!

  4. Laura August 16, 2016 at 12:22 PM #

    What a great idea! We will certainly give this a try!

    • Kim
      Kim August 16, 2016 at 1:13 PM #

      Thanks, Laura! Let me know how it goes for you!

  5. Emily August 16, 2016 at 10:13 PM #

    We subscribe to the odyssey adventure club – $10 monthly for access to ALL adventures in odyssey episodes ever! Best money I’ve spent in awhile!!!

    • Kim
      Kim August 17, 2016 at 6:57 AM #

      Yes! I grew up listening to them and still have some on TAPE!

  6. Alizabeth December 20, 2016 at 3:22 PM #

    We discovered this when my daughter was about a year and a half. She is almost 3 now and it still works like a charm. We only do short books like “A Frog Thing,” “Ellison the Elephant,” “Leo the Lightning Bug,” and “Bad Rats.” All are by the same author and have a simple, colorful book my daughter can look at and turn the pages with. The books seem boring until you read it with the audio. It really does bring the book to life and gives us a 10-15 minute magical adventure. Perfect for toddlers. We are looking into longer books as she grows and for longer trips, but cycling through these four books is pretty easy.

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