If you're looking for quiet activities for kids, tweens and teenagers, whether for on a road trip, in a motorhome/ RV or even just back at home, this post is for you. Also, if you're shopping for a child/ teen and want some gift ideas that the child (and parents!) will love, here are some ideas!
Sometimes, you JUST. NEED. SOME. QUIET.
Whether you're travelling in a camper, or stuck at home in the middle of a pandemic, there are going to be times when you need a few moments to yourself. And to do that, you need to find quiet activities for the kids to do, which don't need supervision or clean-up.
Quiet Activities for Kids- the trick!
The “trick” with quiet time activities is to find something they enjoy, and are absorbed with- so that they don't REALISE they're being quiet. I agree, it's not always easy. In fact, there were many times whilst we were travelling Europe in a motorhome with our daughter that I thought I was losing my ever-loving mind.
(This felt like me on
several many occasions- please tell me I'm not the only one!!) https://giphy.com/embed/4rzPDbJMmWHNC
Also, repeat after me: It's ok to need a short break from your kids (as long as they're safe, obvs). You are not a bad person. You will be a better parent afterwards. Promise.
Don't worry, I got you. Here are some of the best quiet time children's activities we've found- perfect for both road trips or at home. (If you're heading out on a road trip with kids, here are 21 of the best children's car games to help keep them entertained!)
Best Quiet Activities for Kids, Tweens or Teenagers
By the very nature of quiet time activities, we're going to be talking about older kids, tweens and teenagers. The ones you trust to spend an hour or two in a room unsupervised without burning down the house. If you're trying to work from home (or on the road), THESE are the activities you encourage so that you can have a short time period to get some work done uninterrupted.
I'll be honest, the older they get the easier it gets. As long as they have internet and a phone, they'll be fine. My daughter, now 18, will spend hours listening to music and chatting on Snapchat without me having to organise anything for her at all. As long as she has internet, headphones and snacks, she's golden.
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However, if you're struggling and just need some ideas for quiet time activities, here you go:
Listen to a story
My go-to resource for our daughter was ALWAYS a storybook or audiobook. She LOVED being able to lie quietly and listen to a story of her choosing (and then she'd often fall asleep almost instantly!) As she got older, she listened to all the classics, but her favourite was always the Harry Potter books.
My absolute favourite resource for all things audiobook is Audible by Amazon.
You can choose how many audiobooks you want to download, keep them until you've finished, then return them and pick others. It's literally an audio library at your fingertips. I also love that there are books for adults AND kids- perfect for quiet time for all of us.
Right now, you can get a FREE trial of Audible- give it a go and see what you think!
Read a story
In the same spirit, one of the best & quiet activities for kids of all ages is to read a book. If you can get your child to enjoy reading, you've almost won the war.
I would happily be sent to my room (especially if I had ‘just one more chapter' to finish), but my brother HATED to read… until he discovered comics. As with everything, it's finding something your child enjoys. It might be science fiction, or history, or even practical facts. Look for their interests and try to encourage and build on that.
If all else fails, the Hobbit, Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter are perfect ideas for older kids.
Again, a great solution to finding books, especially while travelling (or while you can't leave your house!) is using Amazon Kindle Unlimited. For a small price each month, you can get unlimited books. Seriously- UNLIMITED. If you have a kid who reads a book a day, this is incredible value.
You do NOT need a dedicated Kindle reader- you can use an iPad or even a phone with the kindle app. Why not try it out here (you can also get Magazine subscriptions- perfect for when you're travelling out of your home country!)
Never heard of Loom Bands? You're welcome. This craze has been around for a while now- it's basically the new ‘friendship bracelet'. You can create bands of hundreds of different colours, with beads and other accessories. It keeps my nieces entertained for HOURS (boys can play too… I just don't have a young nephew!)
Teach them to knit/ crochet
Now, obviously, this is for your teenager or older child who can be trusted with a sharp pointy stick, but my grandmother taught me how to knit and it was BRILLIANT to be able to create things all by myself. (Not sure she appreciated how many hats/ scarves she ended up with afterwards though….!) It's also a great activity for travelling and there are some great kits for kids to get this started.
Magnetic building blocks
Why not treat your child to some building blocks? Kids love building things and these kits are amazing! This kit has 146 pieces and is perfect for 3+ to let their imagination roam wild.
If you are lucky enough to have a child who enjoys jigsaws, thank your lucky stars. My daughter hated them, but I LOVED them as a kid (and an adult!) and spent hours quietly figuring them out. I prefer to get my jigsaws from second-hand markets, but if that's not feasible Amazon is perfect. Find something with a character that your kid loves, don't make it too hard to start off with, and see how they get on.
If you really want to spoil them, a personalised jigsaw is a perfect gift.
Also, if they enjoy them, you'll find a jigsaw board invaluable- it saves having to move everything off the kitchen table when it's dinner time! I prefer a hard-backed one, but if you're tight on space a roll away one is perfect.
If you've got the space, and trust your kids not to make too much mess, play dough is a perfect quiet time activity. There are thousands of recipes on Google for how to make your own, or you can grab some quickly and cheaply here– complete with tools!
You can also get stuff called Fimo, so you can bake your children's creations in the oven and keep it for all eternity. Lucky you.
What is it about Lego that endures through the ages? It's just magic. Now, I admit that the ‘sorting' of Lego can be a little noisy, so this probably works best if you have separate rooms, rather than being in a van, but building Lego can keep a kid entertained for HOURS. There are Harry Potter sets, Star Wars, Dinosaurs, trucks- even a FRIENDS set in Lego!! Find something your child loves and let them amuse themselves!
Heck, I was given a Lego campervan for Christmas- it kept me quiet for 3 days!!
One thing I love about stone painting is that you can find materials EVERYWHERE- making it perfect if you're travelling. However, even at home this kit is great for quiet time- as long as you trust them with paint. (This book is great for teaching them how to turn rocks into cute pets!)
I also LOVE these paint pens, which can be used for a variety of activites and make it SO. MUCH. EASIER.
Another fantastic resource to keep children quiet for a while is the Spirograph. Crazy simple- but crazy addictive. I always recommend getting the travel edition instead of the larger option- it makes it easier to carry on trips (and you KNOW they're going to want to bring it!)
BUT- they now do a scratch and shimmer set, which is MAGICAL!
Perplexus (Perplexi?) are magical table games which will keep kids quietly amused for hours. CAUTION:- they come in different difficulty levels. This is rookie level and I would definitely recommend starting there and building up slowly. The hard ones are REALLY hard! (They also make great gifts for hard-to-buy-for people!!)
Puzzle/ sticker books or printables
I love puzzles. My daughter prefers stickers. The beauty of the world we live in is that there is so much choice and availability- you can find puzzle or sticker books everywhere.
Here's an example for very young kids, but you can find them in hundreds of varieties!
You can also get printable games for kids– free or paid. These are perfect for road trips or travel- just print them out and keep them for when you need them!
Another ‘book' idea is a search or puzzle book. My daughter LOVES the ‘where's….' book and even now we have fun finding them.
If you're travelling in an RV or motorhome, these motorhome stickers would be a fun treat.
Youtube and video
I know, I know- we all like to pretend that we NEVER let our kids watch TV as a way to keep them quiet. BUT, it's ok. Seriously- it's OK to let your kids amuse themselves in front of a screen while you recover your sanity.
Youtube has some fantastic kids channels if you're travelling and can't get ‘normal' TV. There's also the Disney Channel, Netflix and Amazon Prime. (Top Tip- don't let younger kids onto Youtube unsupervised- who knows where they'll end up!!)
Right now you can get a 30 day trial of Amazon Prime for FREE– try it out and see if it works for you.
Our rule was always it had to be on quietly/ they had to wear headphones. And any arguments during quiet time mean they lose it for a week (trust me- that one works!)
I hope this list has given you some great ideas for quiet kids activities. Yes, some of them require a purchase in advance, but many can be set up from nothing within minutes.
Remember: Be kind to yourself and let me know which one of the above works for your kids. Good luck!