We’ve all been there: trapped in the car with nowhere to go, a mammoth journey ahead, and – ten minutes into the trip – the kids are pulling out each other’s hair in the back seat.
It’s enough to drive any parent up the wall! If you have a huge car journey ahead of you that you’re not sure everyone will survive in one piece, here are some of our best recommendations to enjoy a bit of peace and quiet, while trying to navigate the motorway.
Timing Is Crucial
You will need…a pillow, pyjamas, some blankets, and a giant flask of coffee.
Plan your trip so it coincides with the kids sleeping times. Fish the kids out of bed and place them in the back seat. They should sleep through a giant chunk of the journey, leaving you to savour the silence…and douse yourself with caffeine.
Downside…it’s possible to accidentally disrupt their sleep pattern with this manoeuvre – approach this tactic carefully.
You will need…a portable DVD player, a number of movies, and some healthy popcorn.
Almost as effective as getting the kids to sleep off the journey, turning the backseat into a cinema is a great way to keep the children happy and out of trouble. This is doubly effective, if you usually restrict TV watching times at home. They will bask in the luxury of being allowed to watch all their favourite Disneys back-to-back, and if you can’t bear to listen to “Let It Go” for the hundredth time, you can get a multiple headphone adaptor, so they can all listen privately.
Downside…screens make some children car sick, so this doesn’t work for everyone.
Stretch Your Legs
You will need…a few outdoor games.
If you’re travelling during the day, plan multiple pit stops to break up the journey. Half an hour here and there of outdoor play can stop the kids getting grouchy and claustrophobic. It will also give you a break from staring at the road.
Downside…it will take you longer to reach your destination.
You will need…healthy snacks and plenty of fluids.
Hungry kids are grumpy kids. Be sure to pack some delicious treats. It’s up to you if you want to include sweets and other high-sugar substances; it depends on how well your children cope with this. Otherwise, stick with yummy savouries.
Downside…they may get more food on your car than in their mouths!
You will need…a working CD or tape player and a variety of story CDs or tapes.
An easy way to avoid your kids getting car sick from reading too many books is to put on a story tape that everyone enjoys. These work almost as effectively as movies, especially if you have quite literary kids, and it leaves them to look out at the changing scenery too.
Downside…unless you have plenty of these story tapes, you’re about to get sick of Sophie The Snail very quickly.
Do you have any great tips for travelling with kids that we missed? We’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments.