Have you been in this situation before?
I'm sure, (especially if your reading this article) you've been in this situation before...We all no too well the typical driving scenaries of 'are we there yet mummy?' or 'when are we stopping? I need to go toilet daddy!?!' or something similar. Its so common that they even made a film with the title 'Are we there yet' with Ice Cube as the lead!
Seeing as its such a common problem faced amongst parents and guardians worldwide, I thought I would share some tips that could stop you resorting to such dire circumstances that Samuel L Jackson finds himself here...
Yikes, he can be a scary man...but it can be equally scary realising you are not as prepared as you should have been for a long commute with your child or children. If you want to avoid wanting to drown your childrens constant questioning of how far through your journey you are, read these tips in order to be fully prepared and keep yourself and your partner sane and creating the most promising enviroment for a harmonious journey.
So lets start shall we? Because I know some of you have your kids in the car this minute and have quickly googled this because you've already noticed they don't plan on sleeping the whole journey.
We will divide these tips into two sections;
- How to prepare for the journey
- What to do during the journey
So how can you be prepared for a journey? Just a word of warning at this point, you MUST ahdere to the law about driving with children. If you need more information on this please consult our buying a child carseat guide which covers the law in the first chapter. Alternatively, if outside the UK please check the law in your country.
We have a variety of car seats which can be found here.
Anyway, so how can you best prepare for a long or expected journey?
How to prepare for the journey
1. Dress them weather apropiately
I believe this is something that it is really important. Despite weather always changing, it is very easy and not that hard to judge what type of weather it will be. Don't put them in 50/60 different layers when you can see the sun is out. Equally don't dress them in shorts and tshirt when the weather is absolutely freezing. The reason for this being important is the fact that children will get irratable having to sit in a car uncomfortably for a long time. I know most children want to let loose and don't even want to be strapped in, so if you have strapped them in, try to make it as comfortable as possible.
2. Keep them shaded
In addition to the first point, keeping children shaded from the sun, protects them from being sunburnt and being irratable. This is an easy fix as there are many accessories that can help to stop this from happening and lots products to make sitting in the car safer for your child. This will always be beneficial for your journey as ensuring the most comfort possible will enable you to have a much more stress free journey.
3. Pack snacks
Packing snacks is essential. Especially for those long journeys, but my advice is to pack them even for the shortest of journeys. The reason being, is because the worse thing you can have is a hungry child in the back of the car. This will spoil the journey and then can carry over to your destination, ruining yours and your child's social engagement. Therefore, pack food such as fruit, vegetables, yoghurts or anything else. Few points to bare in mind are:
- Don't bring something too messy - this could lead to dirtying of clothing, face or even the car.
- Bring enough for everyone - despite children being the fussy ones in many cases, this can go for your partner or elder children also. Everyone gets hangry (angry when their hungry).
- Bring travel cups and plates if need be but they are always handy.
You need to be prepared so you don't feel the frustration of this poor dad....
4. Pack some toys
This may seem really obvious but (especially on the long journeys many can forget the most obvious of things. Also when selecting toys to bring you must be aware that due to the close proximity of the car you may want to avoid those loud, annoying or repetitive toys that will build tension within the car with overuse! So make sure you try to pick wisely when packing toys. Note: if you find children constantly throwing their toys away try to tie them their seat or to their hand so that they don't keep dropping them in some awkward positions leading to you having to stop the journey to get out and check which nook or crannie of the car they have fallen into.
5. Organise stops before hand
Speaking of stopping, these must be planned. You NEED to schedule stops, even more so with longer trips, because children will need to get out of the car and stretch their legs. Make sure they and you go to the toilet at every stop to esnure that there are no unecessary breaks. Having thought this through also makes it easier when being asked by children the famous question of 'are we there yet?' if you have regular planned stops, you can avoid guessing which can often lead to dissappointment. Be prepared for your journey, because unless its an unexpected trip, these simple things can make your journey so much more smoother and less stressful.
So this is how you can prepare for the journey, but you could be already on your way and don't have the time to turn back back time and do all those points mentioned. So now we will move to the actual journey itself and what you can do to have a better journey with your family.
What to do during the journey
1. Child lock the doors!
This is very important!!! You DO NOT want to be travelling down the motorway and your child God forbid falls out of the car because you forgot the child lock! Especially on longer journeys, children will be more prone to wanting to play with door handles and window switches, so you must have all of this locked in order to ensure saftey for yourself and your child during your trips. Make sure you make a habit of this just prior to starting the engine. This way it is very hard to forget and will give you peace of mind during your journey.
Now I know this can be a contentious suggestion but the simple fact of the matter is that a tablet works. An tablet of some sort, can save you a significant amount of hassle throughout even the shortest of journeys. I know some parents find this idea as lazy parenting or think that it is not beneficial for the child. However, one method you can make it beneficial and not just something to make your life easier is by managing what they watch or play and use this journey time to develop their learning. The great thing about tablets are that they work across the ages stretching to the teens and young adults. Basically it can keep anyone quiet on a long journey even your spouse.
3. Portable DVD player
Similar to the tablet, it will definitely keep the child engaged. It's a handy and inexpensive buy, but my only advice is to get something that is good quality as some of them can cause problems. This is important as this could potentially convert the solution into a problem, as when your child wants to watch Finding Nemo for the billionth time, you dont want it to crash and you have to spend the rest of the journey reinacting the various scenes your child has remaining.
There are lots of games which can be played, such as I-Spy. These are great in keeping the children occupied and can save you a lot of stress. They are easy to play and require nothing more than your attention.
NOTE: You can also take a travel cot with you. These can be handy for when travelling as they can be easily used in hotel rooms, relative or friends houses, or even in your own home so that your child is accustomed to it and then when you travel there is less likely hood of sleep issues when abroad. Travel cots are ideal for those families that travel alot.
I hope these few tips have helped you and they've eased the stress or anxiety you had been feeling due to a planned trip. Remember, the more you prepare the better position you will be in, and at the end of the day even if you end up having the worst journey, I gurantee you in years to come you will look back fondly on these road trips that seem so stressful now. Have a safe trip, and get off your phone and spend some time playing a game with your child!
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