November 15, 2012

How to Survive Long Car Journeys with Kids

If you’re a parent, you’ve probably come across the following scenario on more than one occasion: You’ve got to make a long haul car journey with the whole family, and even under the most serene conditions it’s a trying amount of time to spend inside a vehicle. You’re at a point where traffic has slowed to a crawl and you feel like there are glaciers moving faster than you. It starts hammering down with rain and your vision is obscured beyond belief; oh great, how can this get any worse right?Then the ticking time bombs that are your kids in the back seat, decide they’re restless or bored and begin to incessantly complain/whine/cry/fight. The stress levels are rocketing up with no end in sight, going on seemingly forever. You’re beginning to doubt why you ever even used

to find a driving instructor and learn how to drive if THIS is what you were in store for…

I bet you read that and a shudder passed straight down your spine right?

Well, you may not be able to control traffic or the weather, but you can implement some tactics to make the kids more bearable over the course of that car ride. Try some of the following:

1. Set up the car ground rules before you leave. Establish with the children how long the journey is going to take and give them two instances where they can ask you that most dreaded of journey questions… “are … we … there… yet”. If they ask more than twice make sure they’re aware that they’ll be losing out on their special car snack privileges for the rest of the trip.

2. Car snack privileges? Make sure it’s something that’s not messy, but can entice and bribe your children into being good if they start getting out of hand by asking “the question” too often.

3. Set out how often the kids are going to be able to have a drink. If they start demanding that they’re dying from thirst, don’t fall for it; it’s a trap! Don’t give any drink for the first hour, then only a small amount for each subsequent hour that passes. If you just indulge them they’ll drive you crazy with toilet breaks.

4. Try to keep them busy with a movie. Now it’s obviously not the best idea to try and distract them with something like this for the entire car journey, as you probably don’t want them turning into dead eyed zombies. But you can kill an hour and a half with a showing of their favourite film. Just make sure to give them headphones unless you also happen to be an enormous fan of said film.

5. Books! Make sure they’ve got something to read.

6. Good old fashioned board games never go amiss. Pack some handy travel size ones. You can even go for things like crosswords or Sudoku with the older kids.

7. Though stuffing technology down their necks isn’t the best option, always make sure you’ve got things like hand held video game systems or iPods fully charged and ready to go.

8. Before you get in the car, equally divide up the amount of time that can be spent on each activity and make sure the kids are aware of it. This way you’ll avoid tantrums, tears and fights.

These are only a few ideas, but you can clearly see that by simply taking a little initiative and being smart in your packing/preparation, it’s an easy task to keep those little time bombs happy over a long haul journey.