Travelsupermarket are running a competition to find the best tips for a jolly journey in the car. Travelling with my girls who are 2 and a half and 10 months old, I fully understand the ups and downs of car journeys. My youngest used to scream constantly in the car, but since changing her car seat she sings away in the back and enjoys herself. I think the big tip with young children is to make sure they can see out of the window, as they enjoy watching the world go by.
Although it is easy on longer car journeys to hand over the tablet/smart phone loaded with apps to keep them entertained or even to give them a film to watch I find the following works for us:
1. Factor in some scenic stops - Try if possible to factor into your journey a stop which has a park or playground attached to it. Although not scenic many motorway services have a playground. It breaks up the journey for the children and we often find that a play outside will get rid of some of the excess energy built by sitting down too long. My eldest also will get back in the car because we tell her we are going to find another playground with more swings and slides.
2. Stop when they are awake. Sounds simple but try and get as much of the journey done whilst they are asleep. The majority of children will sleep at some point in the car. If it is possible, and it is not that easy with mine, try and factor in breaks to your journey around nap times. Even consider night driving as they will sleep all the way there.
3. Make up a play list. It is a bit of a pain trying to change CD over and over in the car or if like my eldest wants to just listen to the one CD. This is fine for short journeys but not ones over an hour. Before leaving make a play list with a variety of songs that you can all sing along to. Singing keeps the children entertained and often takes their minds off the fact they are in the car. I find action songs work best.
4. Play i-spy style games. At 2 my eldest has not quite mastered the ' I spy something beginning with' but she does know 'lets shout when we see a'. A big Mr Tumble fan he often waves or cheers when he sees an object and we play this game in the car, For Example, 'Lets Wave and shout when we see a cow' She will then look out the window until we see a cow.
5. Have a picnic. My eldest thinks it is so much fun to have a picnic in the car. She loves having a lunch box that she can pick out snacks to eat on a journey. Her favourites are pieces of fruit and chocolate. My youngest has fun with this too.
6. Instruments. Musical instruments can be so much fun in the car as you can make up songs and have a sing song.
7. Toys. Let them pick some of their favourite toys to take with them. Their imaginations will make up fun things to do with the toys whilst you drive. My eldest loves to take a note book and pen with her and will spend ages drawing and chatting away to herself.
8. Mobiles. Not mobile phones but cot style mobiles. I have a soft mobile which I hang on the coat hook above the window in the car. The girls love watching it move as the car makes it wobble. It was great to keep my youngest entertained when she was smaller.
9. Have fun and make it an adventure. Let your imagination go wild. My eldest and I often pretend we are 'on a dinosaur' or 'on a horse' or 'having a race [no speeding just trying to find someone]' or 'exploring'. As I am driving we will pretend to be doing one of those things for example, we are on a dinosaur lets go roar, can we see if we can find something for us to eat, then she will point out a tree or something similar, oh dinosaur is tired now where can dinosaur sleep? so then we look for a sleeping place. It keeps her entertained and helps use her imagination.
10. Leave plenty of time. Best tip is don't get stressed, yes easier said than done but I have found if I get stressed so do the girls and then this makes a hellish journey. I try to leave plenty of time and have always said I would rather get there late but with my girls and I alive and well than not get there at all.
Hope you have a jolly journey, I would love to know your tips for keeping little ones entertained too.