If you’ve ever travelled any distance in a car with young children, you’ll know all too well how traumatic the situation can be for all concerned if things don’t go to plan. Unhappy kids in the car means stressed out parents, and the whole trip becomes a test of endurance for your patience. When you’re planning a long car journey, the trick is to keep little ones calm and relatively quiet. If you’re not blessed with a baby who will sleep reliably in the car, or you’re travelling too far to reasonably expect them to snooze the whole time, follow our 5 steps for harmonious car rides:
- Plan your journey
Any trip longer than a couple of hours will require at least one toilet stop, so have a look at the route in advance and plan out where might be a suitable spot for a refreshment break. While motorway service stations are practical and seem to hold a certain excitement for children (especially late at night!), depending on your journey there might be somewhere more picturesque or interesting you could incorporate into the route. Planning your rest stops in advance allows you to break a trip into manageable chunks, and answer the age-old question, “Are we nearly there yet?” with a more positive response.
If you have young children with a good routine at home, try to time your journey around this, so they still get the opportunity to eat and sleep at roughly the same times as normal
- Be prepared with a kids travel bag
For really long journeys, get organised in advance and pack your child a bag containing a few journey essentials. Things like puzzle books, colouring sheets and crayons, a few edible treats and small toys will keep them well entertained. Make sure you also include items like a drink (in a non-spill cup or bottle), tissues/wipes and any other practical things they could need. This will make the journey seem more exciting for them. You could even get them involved in putting the bag together and ask them to make suggestions for what they might need while they’re confined to the car seat for a few hours.
- Easy family car games
There are lots of entertaining games you can play as a family in the car that don’t involve any equipment or fiddly pieces to drop down under the seats! When traditional eye-spy gets too repetitive (there are only so many things you can see from a car window on the motorway), try car bingo using the colours of the other cars you pass, or different types of vehicle. Older children might like to play Twenty Questions or other verbal games you remember from your own childhood.
Babies and young toddlers obviously won’t be able to join in with these activities yet, so pack a supply of suitable toys or books. Be prepared for them to lose interest in each one fairly quickly – make sure you have a good stock for when they get discarded on the car floor!
- Use screen time to your advantage
While we all should make a reasonable effort to limit the amount of time our children spend glued to their screens during the course of a normal day at home, car journeys are a bit different. This isn’t the time to impose strict limits, and in the confines of a vehicle, an iPad, tablet or portable DVD player can be an invaluable tool to buy you some distraction-free driving time. Alternatives to watching a film in the car include listening (and singing along!) to music, or playing an audio book to capture the interest and imagination of the whole family.
- Make comfort and safety a priority
There’s nothing worse than feeling uncomfortable in the car and knowing you’ve got hours on the road ahead of you. If you’re driving for longer than an hour or two, pack blankets and cuddly toys for your children so they can snuggle into their seats and get really comfy. To make life easier for parents and children alike, the Ickle Bubba Solar Group 1-2-3 car seat is built with both comfort and safety in mind. Suitable from 9 months to 12 years, this seat adapts with your child. Complete with sun visors, stay cool fabric, ergonomic head support and 3 recline positions, children will feel safe and secure on every journey.