Christmas is coming, the goose is getting big – and as a parent you’re quite possibly dreading the prospect of the long drives to see relatives and those closest to you, with bored and squabbling children in the back! Well in this guest post, we are going to be looking at making family travel this winter so much easier.
Hopefully the driver in your family doesn’t reach the same level of frustration as one of the Daily Telegraph’s writers who was touring by car with two children in the back. At one point, he confessed, he got so irate that he ripped off the rear view mirror of the car, and tossed it into a field. Presumably this meant that although he could still hear his children, he no longer had to look at them.
So let’s look at a few ways you can make family travel as good, as calm, and dare I say even as fun as possible this year. In the long run, it could be much cheaper than replacing the rear view mirror.
1. Get The Children Enthused Before The Journey
If the children have ride on cars, these are an ideal way to get them interested in the journey beforehand. If they have some engagement with how far it you are going, how many stops there will be, any crazy facts about the journey and so on, they’ll be more involved, and may be less demanding in terms of wanting to be entertained. So get them to practise the journey in their own little car. They can even make up a satnav commentary around the garden or park.
OK, so let’s be honest, on a long car journey, entertainment technology is a godsend. Journeys after Christmas are best, because the kids may well have been given a tablet or new game that will keep them absorbed all the way.
Otherwise, it may be worth investing in a portable DVD. You can now get these with 5 hour rechargeable batteries – enough for a really long journey. Remember to plug it in to recharge, as soon as you get to your destination, though. Otherwise, you may have a fretful journey home.
And don’t overlook audio books. The beauty of these, is that you can listen to some calming music while your children are plugged in to their stories.
The battery on the DVD has failed, and you’ve still got an hour to go. What about a game of I-Spy? Except that the rain is lashing down, it’s dark, and all you can see out of the window are tail lights. You may feel that a game of I-Spy is not going to go down well.
However you can just as well play in-car I-Spy, where the kids have to guess at things inside the car. And there are endless opportunities to beef up their knowledge of obscure bits of car trim. “Head lining” anyone?
4. Back Seat Driving Wheel
If you have a younger child who’s obsessed with cars, there’s a sat nav steering wheel toy. Mount it on the back of the seat in front, within reach of your very own back seat driver. It will give sat nav-type instructions for the child to follow – they have to adjust the steering wheel and controls to get to their destination. This follows on well from the activity on the ride on car too!
Not only is this a great way to keep everyone in a good mood, there are now lots of singing games that everyone can join in. Or try teaching some of the old traditional songs – for some reason, kids adore the old sea shanty, “What shall we do with the drunken sailor?”
You can get downloads or CDs of old and new songs to join in with. Film soundtracks are always a good bet, if the children already know the film. There are also lots of singing games, like the one where the music is turned down, someone has to keep singing, then the music gets turned up to see whether the player is anywhere near the right bit of the song.
6. Go Magnetic
The trouble with anything that has pieces, or even with felt pens, is that things get dropped on the floor of the car, and the kids can’t pick them up because they’re wearing seat belts. So go magnetic, with great games such as the travel Tangram set. This has pictures of animals and other things, that you have to make using the magnetic shapes in the set. There are also lots of other magnetic puzzles and board games, both traditional and new.
And when all else fails, if there are various treats in the car – favourite snacks or sweets, they can be doled out as rewards for half an hour without a fight in the back seats!
This post is ritten by Han-Son who is the founder of DaddiLife – a parenting website for dads discussing issues around modern fatherhood, things to do with the kids and health. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram.