Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Sanity Savers when travelling with children

It's the school holidays, and you're probably travelling around more than  usual with the children.  Sometimes you'll feel like throttling them chastising them gently, admit it, most parents do when they're in a confined space with one or more children for extended periods.

When my daughter was small I solved the problem to a large extent by using bribery a few tricks. 

Buy a book of games to play in the car/train etc that don't need anything except you, such as variations on I Spy, spot the pub signs, numberplate lottery etc.  It's amazing the games some people have thought of, and they really can be sanity savers:-)

Always have a notebook for each child and a pen/pencil each - plus a pencil sharpener if you've opted for pencils - buy one which catches the shavings to reduce the mess - obvious, yes, but so easy to overlook!  This way some of the games from the above book can be made into team games if there is more than one child in the car - you might get a small breather here, if you just act as umpire:-)

Throughout the year, as you're out and about, keep your eye open for offers on small games, books, cds, felt tip pens/crayons, notebooks etc.  Charity shops are excellent places to find small toys/games at low prices - only buy small items, and make sure that they're complete, otherwise you'll defeat the objecct of the exercise!!  Store all these little treats in a safe place where your little horrors child/ren won't come across them.

When a journey is planned, select the items most likely to be useful and wrap each one so that you've got a "lucky dip" selection for the children - it's a good idea to save wrapping paper from Christmas and birthday presents so that they look cheerful, but you can use newspaper, tissue paper, wallpaper etc.  Place all the goodies in a strong bag, and every half hour or so, or whenever you feel it's necessary, allow one child to dip in to the bag and choose one gift.  Simply having something "new" to do can make such a difference!  Do make sure that you know how to play any of the games you've bought so that you can help get things going.

Also, stock up on small edible treats - preferably non-sticky/non-staining - think about having to clean the car afterwards!!!  *Remember any potential allergic reactions if you've got someone else's child/ren with you, avoid peanuts especially*  Again, keep them in a bag and allow a dip in to choose something.  Have a supply of small cartons of drinks, too - but not too many unless you know there are plenty of suitable toilets on your route!

Only take music that you can bear to listen to, unless you have a portable cd player with headphones for them, so that you're not obliged to hear their horrendous, deafening catterwauling wonderful choice of melodic performers.  If you can manage to provide a music player for each of them, that's even better, then there are no murederous arguments rational discussions about what to listen to, they can decide for themselves:)

Remember to take a supply of wet-wipes and tissues with you.
Take a strong carrier bag for rubbish, and make sure they use it on pain of death or miss out on the next treat, or have to clean the car out when they get home.

Some or all of the above should help to make your travels more painless - you might even survive the journey without getting a headache, and not murdering still liking your children :-)


  1. I'm heading out for a car trip from Kansas City to Denver with my sisters and their children, tomorrow. So this is very timely. My youngest niece will be flown out, because she can't tolerate being in the car for 10 hours (at three years old). But I'll still have to contend with the older three. 9, 7 1/2 and 6. Fortunately they have an abundance of electronics to keep them occupied.

    We made the same trip often when I was a child and I dreamed of being able to watch TV or a movie. But alas, I had to be satisfied with books or games. But no more, they can watch all types of movies now. Of course they would rather be shot than read a book. If I were the parent, I like to think that electronic options would be eliminated to encourage reading, but alas, I'm only the aunt.

  2. Hi Melissa,
    I hope the journey went well and you all survived the experience - it sounds like such a long trip to me, we probably did five hour journeys, max - that's the pleasure of living on our small island, I suppose:-)


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