15 ways to make boating more fun for the kids
So, you’ve decided to take the kids out on the water.
And you want to make sure they have a fantastic time that they will remember for the rest of their lives.
That’s a difficult task. If you’re not prepared to feed, entertain, and care for the smallest people on board your pontoon, a great day of boating may quickly turn sour.
If you’re taking children on board, these are some of the fun, favorite stuff I’d recommend packing.
1. Bring Playdough with you
We have a tiny table beside one of the L loungers on our pontoon boat, which is shaded by the bimini. It’s a great place for small children to play with toys or playdough while the grownups enjoy themselves. A small container of playdough in your boat can prevent a parent from spending the entire day trying to pacify a bored newborn or young toddler who refuses to get in the water.
2. Obtain a Large Tube
Tubes are quite popular among children. That’s no mystery, but I’ve discovered that if you have a large tube that can fit 4 or 5 kids, kids are a lot more anxious to get out on it. The tubes that barely carry one or two people are normally scary for little children who must go alone. Here are some of my favorite tubes for kids that I’ve evaluated.
3. Stock up on these delectable snack ideas
To make the voyage enjoyable for the youngsters, make sure your boat is stocked with refreshments. It’ll be even better if you have some foods on hand that the kids don’t normally consume. Here are a few options that work well on the boat since they don’t make the boat untidy while they eat and keep fresh in the sun.
- Granola bars prepared from scratch with their favorite toppings (nuts, raisins, craisins, M&Ms, etc)
- In a ziploc bag, combine pretzels and small marshmallows.
- French Fries with Sweet Potatoes in a Bag (Sweet potato french fries that are baked are delicious, healthy, and easy for kids to grab)
- Fruit that has been dried
- Bread balls (my kids will only eat bread if I break it up and bash it into small balls.) Suddenly, they’re enamored with it!)
4. Time for a movie!
If your boat has a power supply or cigarette lighter that can be used with an adapter, showing them a huge movie on the boat with a projector is a great approach to convince them they appreciate boating. Set the projector near the bow and hang a white sheet from the bimini. It’s the ideal way to cap off a day spent on the water.
5. Have Pizza Delivered to the Dock
When we do this, my five-year-old goes CRAZY! Simply contact your neighborhood pizza joint and ask for instructions to the dock. Pick up some pizzas and head back out on the water. When you call and place an order, the youngsters giggle and laugh.
6. Get a Slide
Pontoon boats are ideal for adding entertaining features like a slide. They are a little costly, but for youngsters, they are hard to beat. Wakeboarding and playing on the tube may be fun for older kids, but younger kids may be scared by the tube and prefer something closer to the boat. The Rave Pontoon boat slide appears to be fantastic!
7. Invite Their Friends
When children believe they are in command, they become more braver. Bring two friends on the boat with each of your kids for a day, and they’ll become extremely popular, and your kids will like being on the boat since they’ll have other people to give the rules to and show how things work.
8. A Long Downed Skier Flag
Even though he seldom dares to swim in the frigid water, my 3-year-old enjoys going on the boat. However, that doesn’t stop him from having a good time. He’s known as the “downed skier sheriff,” and he’s in charge of waving the orange flag frantically whenever someone falls into the water.
The kids will have a lot more fun with a longer downed skier flag and won’t mind spending a few hours in the boat.
You may assign your other children to “biff cam” duty, which involves videotaping everyone being pulled behind and getting nice footage of them falling, biffing, or otherwise splashing.
9. Bring a fishing rod
Fishing is a pleasant sport for kids to do to break up the day. When the fishing is good, start or end the day fishing, and you’ll generally hook your kids into boating.
During the day, I like to keep an eye on the fishing boats to see where they are. Then, when it’s time for dusk and the weather is ideal for fishing, head over to those hotspots and catch a couple. This way, you won’t have to spend the entire day looking for fish, but you’ll still be able to pique the kids’ interest in fishing since it’s hot!
10. Purchase a Wet Suit for them
When the water in the Idaho lakes gets chilly, it is one of the main factors that discourages my children from boating. Purchase a beautiful wet suit for your children so that they can enjoy the vacation. Keep in mind that children get chilly quickly, so keep them warm!
11. Have a picnic on the beach
This list is mainly about finding ways to break up the day, if you haven’t detected a trend yet. If you just get on the boat and ski all day, the kids will be bored out of their minds. Spend some time arranging different activities you’ll undertake at various times of the day so the kids will always have something to look forward to.
I believe it’s wonderful to get off the boat for a while during lunch. You may take a break from rocking up and down, go to the potty, and get anything else you need from the car while the kids run around at the park or harbor.
12. First and foremost, explain the rules!
When we first started bringing the kids out on the boat, I made the error of not sitting them down and explaining the safety guidelines. This was a mistake since I spent the first half of the trip teaching the kids what they couldn’t do–not very entertaining for them!
I brought the kids out to the boat while it was still towed to the side of the house, and we all hopped aboard. I then stressed that kids must wear a life jacket from the moment they go onto the dock until we return to the car–even if we’re only strolling down the beach. I demonstrated danger zones on the boat, such as the bow, and how they must sit while we’re going but may run around while we’re stopped. It’s fine with me if they climb all over the furniture once they can get in the water and take off their shoes when they go in the boat.
When I had time to sit down and explain everything to the kids, they were very excellent at obeying the rules, and I never had to say “no” on the boat since they already knew what they could and couldn’t do. Much more enjoyable.
13. Teach Your Children to Drive
This one, I’ll admit, is a little shady. There is no age limit for driving a boat in my state, so I asked the sheriff whether it was acceptable if the kids drove while they were sitting on my lap.
My pontoon boat has a 115hp engine, which isn’t a toy, but it can handle a complete hard turn of the wheel even at peak speed without toppling. I put the kids on my lap and give them control of the steering wheel while I control the throttle. I’m in charge of lookout and can take the wheel at any time if there’s a threat, another boat nearby, or whatever else. I also never exceed a speed of 15 mph.
The kids enjoy it, and with the constraints I’ve imposed, I don’t see any risk because I can take control at any time.
14. Peppermint to the Rescue
When there’s a strong chop on the lake, some youngsters develop motion sickness on the boat. If you bring a peppermint stick for seasickness, it can help you get through an otherwise miserable journey. Because dramamine and other medicines are harmful to children, this is an excellent option.
I’m not a big believer in homeopathy and other natural remedies. I truly don’t think so. Peppermint, on the other hand, works! I was hesitant at first, but it worked amazingly for my wife when she took it to treat road nausea, and the Amazon reviews are almost entirely good. Take a look at it here.
Purchase a Quease Ease and place it in your boat’s glove box. You’ll be pleased you tried it when you or someone you invite on your boat starts to feel nauseated. It’s effective!
15. Deputize a DJ
Do you need a new “work” on the boat to keep the kids occupied? One of my sons enjoys playing DJ. We have a Bluetooth radio in the boat (which costs only $100 to install) that allows us to play music from a phone. I pass my phone to my kid, who adjusts the volume and plays the music. He is in command when there isn’t one he loves, and no one can stop him from changing the tune. It’s a minor detail, but he adores it.
Bonus: 16. Get a Remote Control Boat!
My 6-year-old enjoys going out on the boat, but my 4-year-old gets bored at times since he is still hesitant to go out on the tube and has a limited attention span.
On Amazon, I discovered a pretty wonderful remote control boat that has quickly become my favorite item in the world. Every time we go out on the boat, we come to a halt about an hour into the journey and drop the anchor. Then we get out the remote control boat and let the kids have a go at driving it around. The one we received moves really quickly and is simple enough for even a small child to drive.