School is back in session and summer road trips are behind us, but just when the flashbacks of bored toddlers and smug tweens screaming “are we there yet?!” from the backseat have started to fade, lurking just around the corner are a whole new set of family road trips. Thanksgiving. Christmas. Easter. Spring Break. Parents, I’m talking to you! For those of you that can’t possibly bear listening to anymore kiddie CD’s, like the soundtrack to Season One of Jack’s Big Music Show or Best of the Laurie Berkner Band, have I got a lifesaver for you! Don’t get me wrong, those are some great children’s music CD’s, and some of the least annoying ones I have come across. I really do enjoy listening to them both, but not for 8 hours straight on the way to Auntie's house. For those of you who want something just a little different, let me introduce you to a precious little product called The Playaway.
Playaway View and Playaway AudioThere are two versions, Playaway View and Playaway audio.* Today I’ll be talking about the View, but be on the look-out for my review of the Playaway Audio in the near future. The Playaway View is a pre-loaded video player that is small enough for the tiniest hands and durable enough for the clumsiest toddler….scratch resistant screens!
These products are exclusively available for check-out to library patrons so you won’t see them anywhere else. These little gems are amazing! My two-year-old daughter took an instant liking to them the first time I put one into her tiny hands, and so did I. They are like instant silencing machines, mesmerizing even the grumpiest of grumps.
My daughter, patiently awaiting a flu shot.
I decided to test them out at a doctor’s appointment when I had to take my two girls in at the same time. My eldest was freshly 2 years old and my teeny tiny was 4 months old. As I am sure you parents know, wrangling children of this age in the doctor’s office can be quite difficult. You have your hands full holding the tiny squirming one while praying the older one doesn’t run over and eat something out of the nearby waste basket. Well, this little video player worked like a charm. It worked so well that I decided the device needed to undergo the ultimate toddler test: The Family Road Trip. I checked out four of these, two on my library card and two on my husband’s and made sure they were all fully charged the night before we got on the road. We had Elmo’s Favorites, Sesame Street Fantasy Collection, Caillou’s Summer Vacation, and Mister Roger’s Neighborhood.…OK, I’ll admit that last one was really for me, I grew up loving the man in the argyle cardigan. Back to my daughter, she watched them nearly the whole way there and back with a few magnetic drawing board and coloring breaks in between. She dropped it under the seat a few times which caused a bit of ruckus, but after climbing in the backseat to retrieve it, all was well again. Overall, the road trip was a success….except for when my baby, then 7 months old sprouted tooth number one somewhere in the middle of Oklahoma, but no electronic device, book, or toy could have soothed that issue!
Here are a few tips I have learned from using these on road trips. Bring more than one. While toddlers usually love watching the same video over and over and over and over, the battery will eventually die and this will result in mass quantities of wet sloppy tears, which is what I typically like to avoid when in the car on a long trip with two small children. Have a second device within arm's reach for when your toddler drops one and it falls under the seat. Bring a back-up and re-charge them when you arrive at your destination. I’m usually pretty hesitant to use any type of screen as a virtual babysitter, but when on a road trip…no-holds-barred! Keeping them happy at all costs is my goal.
*Item Info: These items can be checked out on an adult library card. You can check out two per card and may keep the units for two weeks. They come with chargers so you can keep the juice going while you have them.