Most parents would agree that one particularly tortuous family experience is a long car journey with the kids going bonkers in the back.
Not only is it dangerously distracting for the driver, it can also affect your mood and ruin the enjoyment of arriving at the destination.
10 ideas for keeping everyone happy
As the holiday season gets underway, here are 10 great ways to keep the little darlings occupied while you’re at the wheel:
Yes, it’s generally accepted that kids spend too much time staring at screens, but on a long car journey, why fight it? Load up iPads and tablets with movies, games and music and they’ll be happy for hours.
From about the age of 3, children can follow more complex stories, so audiobooks are another great way to keep them mentally occupied. If there’s a family favourite, you could all listen to it on the in-car entertainment system.
Pick rest stops that have decent park areas and encourage the kids to run around as much as possible, it should reduce that restless feeling they get when they’ve been sitting in a car for ages. Try and stop fairly often, and avoid sugary snacks!
Car colour game
The car colour game has been around for years, but there’s a reason for that, it works. Kids love being assigned tasks when it’s a ‘game’ so get them to pick a colour, and the first to see 20 cars of the one they choose wins.
Most kids go crazy for stickers, especially really young ones as it lets them be creative without needing to be too dextrous, so make sure you have their favourite sticker books to hand.
It’s a great idea to print out a template of journey milestones before you go, preferably in picture form with easy-to-read titles (bridges, monuments, forests, towns etc.). Pin it up somewhere in the car and the kids will love crossing out, or tearing off, the milestones as you pass them.
Tell the children to call out when they see an animal as you drive. It could be a dog in another car, cows or sheep in fields, rabbits or birds. Better still, get them to keep a running tally and maybe even draw the animal in a sketchbook.
Story-telling name substitution
Pander to children’s egos by substituting their names for characters in popular stories such as Little Red Riding Hood or The Three Little Pigs. You’ll find them in raptures at hearing ‘themselves’ woven into the scenario. You could even get them to have a go themselves.
Sweets as bribes
As all parents know, letting the kids eat lots of sweets is not a good idea. But having some on hand as incentives (bribes, basically) to join in games and behave can be very useful, but make sure they’re small sweets and you use them only as a last resort!
10. Turn up the volume
Always remember that there’s one easy option to help you cope, even if it might only bring brief respite: Simply put on your favourite music station, crank up the volume so loud you can’t hear their squealing, and enjoy the ride!
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Published 22nd June 2018