Labour day is just around the corner which means loads of us will soon pack up our cars with togs and towels, barbecues, buckets and inflatable toys, and head off to our favourite destination for the long weekend.
Anyone who has driven for more than 60 minutes with kids in the car knows it can go one of two ways:
- You can arrive as one big happy group, enthused and excited about arriving.
- You can arrive after having pulled your hair out, not talking and wishing you had stayed at home.
Long trips with kids can be challenging, but they don’t have to be. Here are a few tips to make the journey more bearable.
1. Get the kids excited about the trip and the destination!
Not too excited though, otherwise you will drive a long to a chorus of “Are we there yet?” But it does help if you can at least sell the concept that they’ll enjoy it when they arrive. Of course if they don’t, you might hear about it the whole way back. So plan well!
2. Embrace technology
Anyone over the age of 30 will tell you that kids on long car journeys never had it so good. Not only are modern cars generally more comfortable, quieter and smoother than ever, they can often have in-built entertainment. Some come equipped with a DVD player upon which the children can while away the long hours watching movies. Failing that portable DVD players and iPads will perform just as well. The days of looking out of the window counting how many cows you pass have long gone. You can now add them up on your iPad.
3. I-spy or iPad?
But what if the technology fails or runs out of juice? Well, then you can of course resort to some more traditional car games. A bit old school, but people used to travel at distance long before iPads were around and used their imagination. Some of the tried and tested games will keep them amused, so dust off the cobwebs from some old favourites.
The kids’ classic I-spy is ideal for long car journeys. That one needs no explaining. Another is road cricket. One child picks a colour and each car of that colour that passes scores them a run until a white car comes, and bats them out. And finally there’s car bingo, where the kids have to spot five things connected to a topic, and the first one who does wins.
4. Stock up on treats
The first rule of the driving club is no one talks about the driving club. That means if you let your kids eat treats on a long journey, they can’t hold this over you when they want them another time.
On long car journeys all usual rules go out of the window, in accordance with getting there with your sanity intact. Not every treat needs to be unhealthy, but the odd one won’t hurt. A hungry, bored kid strapped in to a car seat will not be a happy one and if you can keep them content with a few well timed treats, don’t fret about it! However, beware the sugar come down!
5. Pick your time to leave
If it’s a long journey and you have young kids, starting off early in the morning or in the evening is good. If you’re lucky, they’’ll sleep as you cover the kilometres.
6. Be prepared
You don’t need to load up the back of the car with half of their bedroom, but a few choice items such as books, a toy or two and anything else that might amuse them always helps. For younger children, it’s always good to bring some extra clothes just in case.
7. Plan the route and the stops
A couple of well-placed stops on a longer journey can work wonders. Not just a quick loo break, stop somewhere the kids can stretch their legs and get back in to the car with their excitement refreshed.
8. Get some good music
More for you than them, but a good family sing-song can often perk up waning enthusiasm. If all else fails, plug in your iPod, turn the music up and try to enjoy the journey!