How to Keep Kids Occupied on the Boat

Kid on sailing boat

It’s fun to take your kids on the boat, but they can be impatient and easily distracted. If they feel bored or if they lose interest in your primary boating activities, they could get in the way of the rest of your trip.

That’s why it’s important to keep your kids occupied the entire time they’re on the boat. They’ll feel more engaged and will stay more active throughout the trip, making it more enjoyable for everyone. So what are the best ways to do it?

Set the Right Expectations

One of the most important things you're going to do takes place before you ever enter the boat: you have to set the right expectations. Your children need to be prepared for this experience in several different ways. They need to know that safety comes first and they may have to make compromises to prioritize safety. They need to know roughly how long this trip is going to last, so they're not desperately eager to get home at a certain time. They need to know which behaviours are appropriate and which behaviours are not appropriate. They also need time to prepare for the activities that you're going to try while on the boat.

The more proactive you are, and the more prepared your children are, the smoother the trip is going to be.

Give Kids Important Responsibilities

Children love to feel involved. They typically start feeling bored and disconnected if they feel like they're just a passive object in the mix of things. Instead, put them in the driver’s seat, possibly literally. Give kids some important responsibilities (or seemingly important responsibilities) during the boating trip.

For example, you could put them in charge of organizing the life vests from big to small, or you could let them steer the boat for a few minutes. Feel free to get creative here; the more active your children are, the more engaged they're going to be with this activity.

Keep Kids Engaged With Aquatic Hobbies and Activities

Similarly, it's important to make sure your kids understand what they're doing when you do an activity together. If you're going fishing, talk about the different types of fish that you're trying to catch and the fundamentals of the sport. If you're going to go swimming in the water, talk about the different strokes that exist and guide your children through the basic movements of each of those strokes.

Utilize Your Surroundings

Take advantage of your surroundings when you can. If your kids are starting to get antsy, you can turn your surroundings into a game to keep them engaged and interested. For example, you can challenge them to spot certain things in the environment, like a certain type of boat or an island in the horizon. Or you could challenge them to estimate how far away certain things are. The exact nature of this activity doesn't really matter; What's important is keeping your kids entertained.

Get Kids Talking

If all other strategies fail, you can probably keep your kids interested in engaged by getting them talking (assuming they're of conversational age). Ask your kids lots of questions about what they think about this trip, what their opinions are on various things in your surroundings, and other matters related to the trip. If they find that boring, or if they don't have much to say, you can turn the conversation towards something they're more interested in. You can ask them about their latest favourite TV show or about the friends they're making in school – really anything that holds their interest. It’s also a perfect opportunity to bond and learn more about them.

Bring Plenty of Snacks (and Extra Water)

Any parent can tell you that a hungry kid is going to be a grumpy kid. Children aren't always great at expressing when they're hungry or thirsty, so it's important to plan ahead and be prepared with as many snacks and drinks as you think you might need. A handful of extra granola bars and fruit snacks could be all you need to de-escalate a temper tantrum or buy a few more hours of active time.

Bring Distractions and Activities

There's no guarantee that your children are going to enjoy boating as much as you, or that they're going to sit still for the entire trip. That's why it's important to bring along some things that will keep them busy and entertained even in the worst-case scenario.

For example:

  • Music. Bring along a Bluetooth speaker and be prepared to play some of your kids’ favourite music. Putting on an album or a soundtrack they love could instantly make the trip more enjoyable for them or chill them out after they throw a fit. It can also provide the perfect backdrop for your boating experience.
  • Favourite toys. Don’t forget to include some of your kids’ favourite toys. Getting to bring along their favourite stuffed animal could make them feel more comfortable and more secure with the activity. They may also be able to bring a game or an interactive toy to occupy themselves while you're driving out to sea or during other boring moments.
  • Simple board games. Not all board games are boat-friendly, thanks to small pieces, but simple card games and simple board games could be perfect. These are activities the entire family can enjoy while still appreciating the open water.
  • Remote controlled boats. You could also bring along a remote controlled boat – and give your kids a vessel to steer that’s all their own!

If you have kids, one of the best ways to keep them active and engaged (while bonding with the entire family at the same time) is taking them on a boat. If you don't currently have a boat, or if you're looking for an upgrade, you're in the right place.

At TheYachtMarket, we have countless new and used boats for sale – and some of the best prices you’ll find online. Browse our selection today to see for yourself!

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