Tips for Helping Kids Adjust to Daylight Savings


For most of the country, it’s time to turn the clocks ahead one hour this weekend, as we officially move to Daylight Savings Time, Sunday, March 9. Interestingly, newborns don’t seem to be affected by time changes. However, the hour change tends to take a toll on children. According to child healthcare experts, it can take kids a few days to adjust to a new sleep schedule, leaving parents with tired, cranky kids on their hands. Fortunately, there are simple tips you can follow to help your kids adjust to the change as quickly and easily as possible, so you can both get the sleep you need.

julia-Exhausted sleeping toddler

Tips for Helping Kids Adjust to Daylight Savings

  • Don’t wait until Sunday to deal with the change and its consequences. Be prepared and have a plan for how you’ll help your kids adapt to the extra hour.
  • Consider starting on Thursday. Drop their bedtime back 15 minutes each day so that by Sunday night, they are ready to go to bed when the clock says their usual bedtime, even if their body clock think it’s an hour early.
  • If you don’t start Thursday, push bedtime back an hour Friday so kids have an extra weekend night to adjust to the change.
  • Don’t try to give kids extra help getting to sleep. Keep to the usual routine, no matter the time. They may not fall asleep right away, but getting them in bed will encourage their minds and bodies to relax a little earlier.
  • It’s often hard to convince kids that it’s bedtime when it’s still light outside. Try making bedrooms darker with blackout shades or blinds, or skip the nightlight.
  • Don’t overstimulate kids in an attempt to tire them out for an earlier bedtime. Overtired kids often have meltdowns and trouble falling asleep, rather than falling asleep easier.
  • Wake them up at their normal times. Don’t let them sleep later to make up for lost sleep.
  • Same goes for naps. Stick with the usual nap times, and wake them from their nap time at a normal time.
  • Falling asleep an hour earlier often means waking an hour earlier. Discourage kids from waking too early by letting them know what you feel is an acceptable time to start the day. Suggest they read in bed or play quietly until it’s time to get out of bed.
  • Consider putting a digital clock in your kid’s room and letting them know when it’s ok to leave their bed in the morning. Kid sleep training clocks are especially helpful this time of year.

The best way to help kids get the sleep they need is to be regimented about bedtime and bedtime routines. Kids always benefit when they know what to expect, and can easily grasp the idea that having a bath, brushing teeth and hearing a bedtime story signals the end of the day, regardless of the time or caregiver. If you haven’t already established a bedtime routine, now is the time to do it. Both you and your kids will get the rest you need to start enjoying the longer days!

What are your tips on getting kids to adjust to Daylight Savings? Share with us in the comments!

Tips for Combating Cabin Fever

If nasty winter weather has kept you and your family trapped indoors, you may be suffering from a bit of cabin fever. According to psychologists, cabin fever is a real condition often defined as as a claustrophobic-like feeling people get after being indoors for a long period of time, which is often the case during the winter months. It leaves us feeling lethargic and unmotivated, irritable and quick to snap at each other.

You can help your family bust out of these doldrums by following a few helpful tips to increase mental and physical activities and exposure to sunlight and feel better by eating a better diet.


Tips for Combating Cabin Fever

Mental Activities

It’s important to keep your brain engaged, rather than letting it sit idle in front of the TV or computer screen.

  • Plan a long weekend get-away or Spring Break trip.
  • Teach your child a new skill, such as a card game, a few words of a new language, or how to knit.
  • Tackle a crossword puzzle.
  • Do a craft with your kids. Creative art therapies are shown to boost immunity and improve mood.
  • Combat loneliness by inviting a friend and her kids over for a lunchtime play date. Entertainment is stimulating.

Physical Activities

Keep moving. Physical activity of any kind releases endorphins and revs up your metabolism, making you feel better.  

  • Take a walk, preferably outdoors. If the weather is too prohibitive, walk in a mall or other indoor area.
  • Build a snowman with your kids or make snow angels.
  • Try cross-country skiing.
  • Throw in an exercise DVD, hop on the treadmill or pull out the yoga mat for an indoor workout.


A lack of exposure to sunlight causes a chemical imbalance in our brains that leaves us feeling lethargic or depressed.

  • Get outside for at least a few minutes everyday.
  • Open the blinds and curtains in your home and workplace.
  • Move your desk near a window.

Healthy Diet

Skip the boredom-induced binge eating and opt for wise choices that reduce stress and increase energy.

  • Reduce carbohydrates – you’ll feel less sluggish.
  • Eat less, only when you’re hungry and not just bored.
  • Keep hydrated.
  • Eat foods with high levels of tryptophan, an amino acid that are bodies converts to serotonin, a neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of well-being and happiness. Includes turkey, tofu, and pineapple, among many other tasty options.

In addition to following these tips to bust the wintertime blues, remember to make time for yourself. UrbanSitter is always here to provide a trusty sitter when you a break.

How to Help Your Family Fight Flu Season

It’s that time of year when it seems nearly impossible to steer our families clear from aches, pains and sniffles, especially when we’re often surrounded by people coughing, sneezing and wiping runny noses. Following these tips for good health will help to give you and your family a fighting chance against pesky bugs and the seasonal flu this winter.


Help Your Family Fight Flu Season

  • It’s not too late – get vaccinated. According to the Center of Disease Control, the flu season in the United States typically peaks in January and can last as late as May. Since it takes about two weeks after you receive the vaccination for antibodies to develop in your body and start protecting against the virus, do not delay. Everyone who is at least 6 months of age should get a flu vaccine this season. It’s the single best way to stay healthy.
  • Wash your hands frequently. Don’t let recent studies about the effectiveness and possible dangers of antibacterial soap turn your family lax on washing hands. Stick with soap and water or an all-natural sanitizer, such as the ones by Clean Well which use thyme rather than harsh and potentially dangerous chemicals. Germs are spread by droplets from infected people when they sneeze, blow their nose, or wipe their nose or eyes. Remind your kids to keep their hands out of their mouths and avoid rubbing their eyes, in addition to washing their hands thoroughly several times a day. Also, remember to clean your baby’s hands often.
  • Stay home when you are sick. Going about your normal business while you are sick is a double whammy. You’re expending energy your body could be using to fight infection. In addition, being out in the world spreads infection to others. Do yourself and everyone else a favor and stay home for a little TLC. The same goes for your kids. Keep them home from school and daycare when they’re under the weather.
  • Don’t skimp on sleep. It’s often the best medicine, as it allows our bodies to recover and it strengthens our immune systems. Experts recommend 14 to 15 hours of sleep per day for infants, 12 to 14 for toddlers, 11 to 13 for preschoolers and 10 to 11 for school-age kids.
  • Make time for exercise and increase your overall physical activity, regardless of the weather. It’s natural to want to wrap ourselves in blankets and retreat to the couch when it’s blustery outside. Fight the urge. Bundle up the kids and get everyone outside for a walk or sled riding, or find indoor activities to keep everyone moving.
  • Drink up. Dry winter air, indoor and out, can dry out the lining of your nasal passages, creating tiny cracks that make you susceptible to infection. Drinking water can help moisten those membranes, so keep your water bottle handy and make sure to fill your children’s often, too.
  • Eat well. This time of year, especially, make sure your diet includes a hefty dose of Vitamin C and E, vitamins credited with boosting immunity. Also make sure your family steers clear of excess sugar, as it impairs the body’s ability to fight infection. Time to create some new nutritious family staples for you and yours? Check out our Pinterest board – Easy, Kid-Friendly Dinners for Busy Parents for delicious, healthy recipes to feed your family.
  • Have a back-up childcare plan. Realistically, chances are pretty good that either you or your child will need a sick day sometime this winter. Whether your child gets sick and can’t attend daycare or school or your in-home babysitter or nanny calls in sick, you’ll need a good childcare network and a back-up childcare plan. Whether it’s a helpful neighbor, a nearby family member or your UrbanSitter network of sitters, know where you’re going to turn if your normal childcare routine goes haywire. It will save you from undue stress and last minute juggling.
  • Know when to call the doctor. The flu can be dangerous, especially to young children. Remember that cold and flu symptoms are often the same and easily confused, though they are much worse with the flu. Watch for symptoms, including high fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea that don’t improve after 24 hours and often increase in severity.

With a little prevention, planning and a commitment to a healthy lifestyle, you’ll be helping your family stay healthy and happy this flu season and well beyond.

Find last-minute babysitters who care for sick children at UrbanSitter.

7 Clever Ways to Organize Toys

The bounty of toys from Santa + the mountain of stuff your child already owned = one hot mess of kid stuff.

Yikes! How is a busy parent to make sense of the mess, let alone organize it? Fear not! With these helpful tips, you’ll have the toys organized in no time. The next time your child cries, “I’m bored!” or a new sitter asks where you keep the Legos, you’ll be able to save the day by quickly pulling out a game with all the pieces, Barbie’s other shoe (well, maybe), or a puzzle that’s been long forgotten and now feels brand new.

Image via Compfight


1. Assess and Purge.

Now is the time to be ruthless. Organizational experts say you should part with one item every time you bring a new one into your home. You’ll likely find that you can do much better than that. Throw out anything that’s broken beyond repair, donate toys that your child has outgrown or lost interest in, and pack up and store toys for younger sibling. Another helpful plan – store a few toys for a rainy day. Even if they’ve been in your home for years, they’ll feel like new toys to your child when you bring them out of storage.

2. Replace old boxes and corral scattered pieces.

A ratty old box will sabbotage  any organizing effort. Toss torn packages and corral game and puzzle pieces and instructions into easily stackable containers. These plastic boxes from Ikea are inexpensive and nicely sized. You can also use recycled baby wipes containers, plastic food storage or even Ziploc bags.

via Jazzie and Tahlia
via Jazzie and Tahlia


3. Make it easy to see and easy to find.

Before you choose a wooden box or a deep trunk for stashing your kids’ supplies, consider whether or not they’ll be able to see the contents. Often, if they can’t see it, they can’t find it. Use acrylic containers, such as these drawers, which are excellent for storing  small pieces, like beads, Barbie clothes or stickers. Shoe holders, like the one shown below, are great for throwing over a door and corralling art supplies.

via Attempting Aloha
via Attempting Aloha

4. Label it.

Give everything a home by assigning it a place and putting a label on it. You can stick labels on containers or hang name tags on bins or baskets. If it’s labeled, there’s no mistaking where it goes.

via Making it Lovely
via Making it Lovely

5. Get down on their level.

For toy storage to work, it has to be easy for kids to access. Why not create a drawer that serves as a play space or race track you can simply slide under the bed when they are finished playing. If that’s not an option, think about wheeled crates or bins that slide under the bed, shelves placed low on the wall or cups for art supplies on a play table.

via Kid Crave
via Kid Crave

6. Make storage part of the décor.

Don’t make anyone search for ways to clean up. Incorporate storage into the decor by choosing furnishings that double as storage and display creative containers and collections as artwork.

via I Heart Organizing
via I Heart Organizing

7. Incentivize kids to help you keep it clean and clutter free.

It’s all about the Chore Chart. Even little kids can benefit from doing chores and can be assigned simple toy clean up duty. Download and print a chore chart that will work for your family from our Pinterest Printables Board, and post it so your kids can remember their assignments and track their progress.  Laminate your chart and use a dry erase marker to check boxes.

via Pinch a Little Save a Lot
via Pinch a Little Save a Lot

Spend a few hours organizing your kids’ space, and your kids, your sitter and your sanity will benefit each and every day of the year!

UrbanSitter is an excellent resource for finding just the right babysitter.

5 Ways to Spend Less When Shopping Online

One of the top resolutions for the New Year is to spend less and save more. We’re doing more and more of our spending online – shopping for everything from diapers to groceries to new workout gear, including booking and paying sitters! Here are 5 tips for saving money when shopping online.

via colecamp
via colecamp

5 Tips for Saving Money When Shopping Online


1. Use Coupons

Did you know you’re more than likely to find a coupon or promo code by spending a few minutes searching online before checking out at your favorite sites? According to, more than half of online shoppers redeemed a coupon code and more are expected to use them in 2014. If that’s old news to you and you can’t remember the last time you purchased online without a code, how about this tip – many sites will allow you to “stack coupons,” which means you can use more than one coupon code per purchase. The trick, according to savvy cyber shoppers, is to enter them in the right order. A percentage off coupon goes first, followed by dollar amount codes. Not all retailers permit this, but many do and many more are getting onboard.

2. Don’t Pay for Shipping

Make a commitment to never pay shipping fees. Many online retailers will offer free shipping if you spend a certain amount. In that case, wait to buy until you need (or can afford) enough to hit the target. If that’ s not an option (you needed it yesterday or can’t find it locally) search for free shipping coupon codes. Also, there’s always Amazon Prime!

3. Register with Favorite Sites

Many stores will give you a discount just for registering with their site. Unfortunately, you often have to wait a day or two before you receive their email with promo code. Plan ahead.

4. Don’t Forget to Use Your Gift Cards

Money Watch claims that more than 20 percent of gift cards are never used. Make sure that those you may have received as gifts this year don’t go MIA in the bottom of the junk drawer. Beware that many cards, usually the kind that are redeemable at multiple retailers, charge purchase fees and/or charge either “dormancy” or “maintenance” fees after the first year. Yikes! If you’re not sure how to spend the cards you have – perhaps they aren’t for the store of your choice – consider using one of the many services out there that buy and  resell gift cards, such as CardPool. They allow you to get cash back for your gift card and you can to buy others’ gift cards at a discounted price.

5. Shop for Babysitters By Rate

UrbanSitter offers a nifty feature that allows you to search for a sitter who is not only close-by or a favorite of a friend, but who also charges a rate that matches your budget. Rather than booking a sitter offline and waiting until the often awkward  moment at the end of the job when you ask how much you owe her, avoid surprises and book her, and even pay her online. is always ready to meet your childcare needs–any season of the year.

How Technology Can Help Solve 5 Common Problems of Busy Families

 You may be able to take some comfort in knowing that you are not alone in your struggle to navigate the often wild and rapid waters of everyday family life.

There are five common problems most parents confront in their day-to-day lives that can be at least alleviated, if not solved, with the help of an app. We’ve scoured, reviewed and talked with parents to find favorite apps that could bring a welcome, helping hand to your world.

Five Apps for Busy Families

1. Managing your family’s activities and calendars.

UpTo Modern Calendar
UpTo Modern Calendar

Chances are you have your preferred calendar method pretty down pat by now, whether it’s a paper day planner, Outlook, Facebook or another calendar you can access via your mobile device. All are tried-and-true, obviously effective methods of keeping your calendar. But when it comes to keeping track of calendars for several members of your family, you may benefit from taking it a step further.

A popular go-to calendar app is Cozi, an awesome solution for organizing your day-to-day calendar in a simple format, adding after-school activities, meals, to-do lists, chores, social events and more with ease. But, there’s a newcomer that’s caught our attention as a real productivity booster. UpTo is an app that streams public calendars, such as college and pro sports schedules, TV show schedules, new movie release dates, concerts and other important events you’d like to be reminded of, and lists them alongside your own events. So, you not only remember to take your son to the dentist, you also don’t miss the season premiere of your favorite TV show or your alma mater’s big game. You know, the important stuff.

2. Getting a decent dinner on the table.

Epicurious Shopping List and Recipes
Epicurious Shopping List and Recipes

Stop scouring the Web for what to do with those chicken legs you bought on sale or for that fantasy recipe that you’ll be able to whip up in minutes. Epicurious Recipe and Shopping List app is a one-stop-shop for nearly any recipe you could need.

It’s a virtual smorgasborg of more than 30,000 recipes pulled from around the world, all of which are divided into categories that are organized by skill level and theme such as Quick and Easy and Kid-Friendly. Not only can you find recipes on the go, you can also add ingredients to a shopping list and save your favorite recipes. It’s quick and easy to pull up the shopping list when you walk into the grocery store. You’ll be instantly prepared to pull off any dinner, last-minute throw-together or otherwise. If you prefer to have a hard copy of your recipes while you cook, there’s the Epicurious app for an HP printer that enables you to send recipes directly to your printer.

UrbanSitter Mobile
UrbanSitter Mobile

3. Staying connected with your spouse.

We’re a bit partial to this one, but it’s so good at simplifying your life as a parent, we have to toot our own horn and remind you of it again – The UrbanSitter iPhone App. It’s incredibly valuable to be able to find and book a babysitter, even exchange logistics with her, while on the go.

You simply use the app to see who is available to care for your kids when and where you need her, read profiles, check parent reviews, and send him or her an instant request.

It’s an app that can put the spontaneity back into your life, ensuring that you never have to turn down an invitation for a dinner with your spouse or a coffee with a friend.

4. Taking care of a newborn while juggling an already hectic life.

“Momnesia” may not be a medically documented condition, but forgetfulness and that feeling of losing track of what you were in the middle of doing is a reality for most parents – first-times and old pros, alike.

Baby Log

Keeping track of all the necessities, such as when and how you last fed your baby (bottle or breast), when you changed a diaper, how long your baby last slept, and when you need to do it all again is mind-boggling – especially to sleep-deprived, pulled-in-every-direction parents.

Baby Log is an ultimate baby log app. It holds unlimited data for all your baby’s activities, and can be used for multiple babies, too. Let it keep track of it all, so you can enjoy a bit of peaceful time with your baby, instead of fretting over the schedule. It also offers a nursing or nap timer, and provides a place to record milestone, growth or precious moments.

5. Archiving the memories so you don’t forget a minute.

When it comes to dealing with the masses of artwork and school projects that flood your home once you have a preschooler or school-age child, many parents are fans of Artkive. It allows you to take photos of your child’s masterpieces, share the work and archive it so you can show your grandkids what their Mom created when she was three.


But what do you do if your little one isn’t yet producing any art, yet the pressure of just keeping up the baby book is enough to put you over the edge? Meet Moment Garden. It’s an app that allows you to keep pictures, track weight and growth, record all trips to the doctor and keep first-time events of your baby on your phone, and privately share them with your closest family and friends. With a single click, you can even turn your Moment Garden into a Moment Book, a beautifully printed book like that baby book you never had time to finish!

We’d love to know which apps you find indispensable in the fight to keep your head above water in the fun, but sometimes frantic world of parenting. Give us a shout!

Find and book trusted babysitters at UrbanSitter.

Tips to Help Your Baby Go “Green”

baby go green

Making sense of what you can do to keep your baby clean and “green” can be overwhelming! It can be difficult to cull through the deluge of information and warnings out there to decipher what you should do to simply steer clear of environmental dangers that may affect your baby’s health. Here are some simple suggestions from experts:

Choose, store and serve food with care.

  • Once your baby is old enough for solid foods, make your own purees with organic produce and hormone-free meat and dairy products. Be sure to wash and peel produce before pureeing it.
  • Check with Healthy Child’s Safe Fish list for help in choosing the safest fish at the grocery store.
  • If you warm bottles or food in the microwave, use glass containers rather than plastic or plastic wrapped containers to avoid chemicals potentially leaching into the food they hold.
  • If you use plastic bottles or containers, look for those with a 1, 2, 4 or 5 recycling symbols on the bottom. These are free of harmful BPA, phthalates and PVC.

Clean and treat your home and garden wisely.

  • Choose all-natural cleaning products, including homemade solutions of vinegar and baking soda, to keep harmful fumes out of your home.
  • Use nontoxic pesticides in your home and on your lawn and garden. According to an article on BabyCenter provided by Healthy Child Healthy World (a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the health and well-being of children from harmful environmental exposures) boiling water kills weeds, and basil plants repel flies and mosquitoes.

Promote clean air.

  • Open your windows! You can improve the air quality in your home by simply opening windows on a daily basis. First, make sure it’s not a high-ozone day (check, and if you’re in an urban or industrial area or have seasonal allergies, use an air purifier instead of opening the windows.
  • Ensure that your baby is not exposed to second-hand smoke, including smoke from the fireplace.
  • Install carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, and test for radon gas.
  • Buy household plants to help cleanse indoor air.

Read labels before choosing baby products that are applied to the skin.

Many popular personal care baby products that have been around for years contain chemicals that may be absorbed through the skin. If you want to keep it all-natural for your baby, but you aren’t sure what to look for and what to avoid when choosing baby products, check labels and avoid products that contain the following known carcinogens:

  • Phthalates, a man-made chemical that is used to make plastics flexible and used in many products to prolong  a fragrance’s scent.
  • Parabens, a preservative found in many personal care, food and pharmaceutical products.
  • Two harmful chemicals – formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane – are often found in personal care products but are hard to avoid because they aren’t listed as ingredients. They are released over time as a by-product of commonly used ingredients, such as the preservatives quaternium-15 and DMDM hydantoin. Choosing all-natural products will help avoid these harmful additives.
  • Avoid harsh chemicals in sunscreen by choosing sunscreens that use minerals, such as zinc and titanium, instead of chemical barriers.
  • For a more complete list of ingredients to avoid in personal care products for your baby, see the list provided by Earth Mama Angel Baby.

Find and book trusted babysitters at

Tips for Keeping Your Family Healthy This Flu Season

It’s that time of year when it seems nearly everyone is sneezing, coughing and wiping a runny nose. This is especially true if you have children or around children frequently. How do you keep your family healthy when the odds certainly seem stacked against you?

Try practicing these helpful tips for keeping everyone well this flu season:

  • Wash hands frequently. Young children should be taught to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and warm water. Many teachers and daycare providers have them sing a short song, such as “Happy Birthday” sung twice, to show them just how long to scrub. It’s important to wash hands throughout the day, especially after using the bathroom, before meals or snacks, and when returning home. For babies, clean their hands throughout the day with alcohol-free wipes.
  • Teach kids to keep their hands away from their mouths and noses, especially until they can wash them properly.
  •  Create snacks and meals with lots of whole grains, dark leafy greens (Homemade Kale Chips are awesome!), and foods rich in antioxidants, such as berries. Tea is also a great disease fighter. Serve it to your kids warm with a bit of milk and honey.
  • Make sure the whole family gets plenty of sleep. It’s often the best medicine, as it allows our bodies to recover and it strengthens our immune systems. Experts recommend 14 to 15 hours of sleep per day for infants, 12 to 14 for toddlers, 11 to 13 for preschoolers and 10 to 11 for school-age kids.
  • Keep the fluids flowing to keep hydrated and loosen congestion. Dry winter air, indoor and out, can dry out the lining of your nasal passages, creating tiny cracks that make you susceptible to infection. Drinking water can help moisten those membranes.
  • Fight the spread of germs by regularly wiping down the areas of your home shown to harbor the most germs, such as refrigerator handles, remote controls, and doorknobs.
  • Arm you family with flu shots. Doctors recommend that everyone over the age of six months get a flu shot. Since the flu peaks in January or February and can extend into March or April, it’s not too late to get one, if you haven’t already.
  • Make a pot of soup. Research shows that the ingredients in chicken soup actually make you feel better thanks to their anti-inflammatory properties. The steam also helps by clearing your sinuses. We love this recipe from Padma Lakshmi that puts a flavorful twist on traditional chicken soup — Indian-Thai Chicken Soup with Butternut Squash and Spinach.
  • Know when to see a doctor. The symptoms of colds and the flu are often confused. Watch for signs of the flu, which may be the same as those of a cold, though more severe. See a doctor within 48 hours of the onset of the flu for a prescription for flu-fighting TamiFlu. Flu symptoms include:
    • high fever
    • headache
    • cough
    • sore throat
    • runny nose
    • body aches
    • tiredness
    • vomiting and diarrhea (especially in younger children)
  • Teach kids not to share drinks or food. It’s good practice to follow this rule even within your home.
  • Keep moving, regardless of the weather. It’s easy to retreat to the couch and resort to a movie for afternoon entertainment when it’s cold outside. Instead, bundle up your kids and get the gang outside for a brisk walk or game of Freeze Tag.

Have a child home sick or are you down-and-out with a cold yourself, despite your best efforts to ward off germs? Remember, UrbanSitter is there when you need a back-up babysitter!

UrbanSitter’s Handbook for Family Road Trip Survival

photo by D Sharon Pruitt

Before you hit the road with your kids this summer, we’re arming you with 8 Indispensable Road Trip Survival Tips.

Following these tips will go a long way in creating a memorable, happy time with your family on the road!

  1. An arsenal of Apps for Kids. It’s likely that even your preschooler knows his way around your smart phone. Preload your phone with apps that meet your personal criteria – age appropriateness, educational, or just pure attention-grabbing fun. CoolMomTech offers a whole section on Cool Apps for Kids. What if you have one phone and three children? Work on taking turns and time-telling skills by having the other kids watch the clock to see when it’s their turn or find a game that allows for multiple players.
  2. Road trip games. Go old school with the standbys from your own childhood. Have kids scout and keep track of animals or certain color cars; count state license plates; fill in Mad Libs or play “I Spy” or “Twenty Questions.” Cater to the age of your children by tweaking the games. For example, have older kids log their findings, categorize, and compete against each other.
  3. Gadgets and electronics. It likely goes without saying, but just in case – don’t leave home without videos. Whether you have DVD players in your car, a laptop, an iPad or portable players, the videos they play will buy you hours of peace. Portable game players (Nintendo DS, Leapster, smart phones) are also good bets. Don’t forget the headphones!
  4. Survival Totes. Pack a small backpack for each child. Include paper, printouts, markers, mini dry-erase boards and pens, playing and flash cards and small toys that you can wrap and dispense throughout the trip. Don’t forget hand wipes, Kleenex and, of course, a first aid kit in your own arsenal.
  5. Summer reading programs. Sign your kids up for a summer reading program through a school, local library or an online program such as the Scholastic Summer Challenge. It will keep your kids motivated to read, and what better time to hit the books than during a long road trip. Many programs offer reading lists, making it quick and easy to load up your e-Reader or iPad with something for everyone before you hit the road. Don’t forget to bring board books tots can thumb through and listen to parents read, as well as books-on-tape for longer stories the whole family can enjoy.
  6. No mess snacks. Pack individual servings of age-appropriate finger foods such as pretzels, crackers, cereal, popcorn and nuts (for older kids). To avoid the fast-food meal traps, bring a small cooler with sandwiches, fruit, pre-cut veggies, yogurt or cheese sticks. Giving each child his or her own water bottle to replenish at rest stops makes more sense than hauling a slew of juice boxes and cans.
  7. Journal or scrapbook the trip. Create a scrapbook of your family vacation. Have kids add drawings of places they’ve seen or fun facts they’ve learned along the way, and paste ticket stubs and other mementos. Put your kids on assignment with a small camera. You can print photos at your destination using an inexpensive pocket printer and paste the prints in the book on the return trip.
  8. A sitter to take over when you arrive! Let’s face it. No matter how much you’ve prepared for your road trip and no matter how much you love your children, you’re bound to need a break. Did you know UrbanSitter can help you line up a perfect sitter away from home? Log onto UrbanSitter to view trusted sitters, read local parent reviews and book a sitter in one of a dozen U.S. cities. It’s a much more personalized and often less expensive way to book childcare than booking through a hotel. Think how nice it will be to have a bit of well-deserved grown-up time in your destination city!