How to keep children entertained in a hotel room

When you go on holiday as a family, whether it is a long trip or a weekend away, there will always be a moment when the kids are in the hotel room, between trips, and start to get restless.

How you handle this as a parent can sometimes define the whole trip, as a poorly handled argument between siblings in the hotel can leave a dark cloud over the whole holiday. We hope these tips help keep the children entertained and you sane!

Paper and pencil games

When siblings have time together, it is always easy to leave them to their screens, but an alternative strategy can be to leave them with pencils and paper and show them the basics of some easy but intriguing games. A good example dots and boxes, sometimes called boxes, or squares. In this game, the children draw lines on a 3×3, 4×4 or 5×5 grid. The children take turns filling in a single line between two dots on the evenly spaced grid. The child who fills in the fourth side of a newly drawn square gets to claim that square as theirs, and the aim is to claim the majority of squares on the grid.

The game is very intuitive and can keep children focused on understanding the logic behind it for an hour or so easily. If your children take a shine to the game after you show them it, or if you are travelling with a single child, there is an online version of the game for them to practice with here, provided by UCLA.

Give them a map

If your children are a little older it can be worth giving them a tourist map and asking what they want to do the next day of the things available. If you have chosen to holiday somewhere quiet this might not be an option, but in places such as the City of London hotels always offer guidebooks and materials to borrow or take away, to ensure you can make the most of your visit.

Making your children active participants in the planning of your trip can help give them a sense of responsibility and make them feel more invested in the holiday.

Screens as a back up

In the modern world it can always feel tempting to just give your children their devices and let them play on them when they have downtime. This can be a good tactic, and if you feel tensions are rising or that everyone needs a break from each other, giving your children games to play or programs to watch can solve this in the short term.

If your children are under 3 the World Health Organisation warns against any screen time, while 3-5-year olds should have no more than an hour’s screen time a day. With older children there is still a strong suggestion there should not be too much screen time. However, a couple of hours in the hotel room between plans or before bed might be the best time to offer this in a busy day. You know your children best!

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