What parent does not dread that question, when travelling on a hot sweltering day, when the kids are screaming and squabbling in the back of the car and every other comment is interjected with that question in a whining voice? That is such a button pusher for parents.
“ARE WE NEARLY THERE YET?”
We know sticking them in front of the i-pad in the back of the car is a quick and easy fix, but there are downsides to that and it may leave us feeling a bit guilty. We then complain about them always asking for more screen time on holiday and wonder from where this habit developed?
We think by now they SHOULD be able to recognise that Mum or Dad need a tranquil environment to drive the car and why can’t they just entertain themselves nicely and recognise that everyone is in the same position and that by now they should have learnt how to occupy themselves and not rely on us to be their entertainment director?
Sound familiar? The reality is many children may find a long car journey boring and depending on age and stage of development their ability to entertain themselves will be limited. We do need to support them and be creative, as the more we nag and criticise and scold or tell off the worse their behaviour will become.
Here are 8 top tips for how to have a successful long car journey:
- If possible, give your children a good run around before the start of the journey to expend some energy
- If it’s a long journey, apportion some timings for activities, e.g. If it’s a 2 hour journey you could have ½ hour looking out of the window chatting, ½ hour of games (see below), ½ hour meal/packed lunch, ½ stories on a disc player/ipod.
- Be prepared to make regular stops possibly up to every 90 minutes to 2 hours depending on the age of your children. This is recommended for drivers too.
- Carry a bag of emergency supplies in your car (wipes, plastic bags, water, children’s pain relief and travel medication, emergency food etc.)
- Be realistic about sleep. – Under 4’s tend to nod off quite quickly in the car whereas older children can find it difficult to sleep in the car.
- Make sure the car seat or booster is relatively comfortable. Older children may like to bring along a pillow if it is appropriate.
- If there is squabbling in the car and it is beginning to get to you, find a safe place and pull over. Get out of the car and take some deep breaths.
- Get Creative and develop some games for the car.
- The ‘yes and no game’ – if you say either when asked questions, you are out!
- Take turns to tell jokes.
- ABC spotting – take turns to name something you can see beginning with a, then b, then c etc.
- Cricket –certain number of ‘runs’ for different things seen along the route, eg single run for a red car, four runs for an ambulance and six for a police car. If there’s a motorcycle coming the other way you’re out.
- 20 questions.
- Alphabet games like my grandmother went to market and bought apples, bananas and cherries etc. Or one person thinks of a name, like Annabel, and the next person has to think of a name beginning with the last letter, in this case L.
- Make up funny or nonsensical stories. Construct a sentence each. You may need rules like ‘you can’t kill off a character introduced by another person’. (Yes, there’s a story there – a tedious one.)
- Chocolate or cheese – each person takes turns to ask the question ‘if you had to choose between the following things, would you choose? e.g. chocolate or cheese?’
- 1 minute game – choose a topic and talk about it for one minute.
- Rhyming nonsense – together think of a given number of rhyming words and then make up a funny story incorporating the words e.g. ‘A goat sailed on a boat without a coat. He wanted an oat so he wrote a note…..’