Picture of a family sitting in a car together

How to survive long car journeys with young children

Lizz Banks
Authored by Lizz Banks
Posted: Thursday, May 27, 2021 - 12:26

​My children have been travelling on long car journey's to visit their grandparents since they were tiny.

I am not going to say that every journey has been amazing. It hasn't. We have heard one or the other child asking "Are we nearly there yet?" a million times and have had to pull off the M25, find a side street to stop in and settle a screaming baby. We have also had to deal with being stuck in traffic for hours.

These things happen but, here are some ways that we have found to make the journey easier.

Plan ahead

What do I mean? I mean, think about when your baby will need a feed or your children will likely need a wee stop or food. Try to time your journey around their needs so that you can stop at services at the right time.

We used to time leaving my parents at longer nap time too, so that most of the 3 hour journey was sleep time. It also meant their routine wasn't too disrupted.

Entertainment

In the olden days, it would have been games of I-Spy and 'Yellow Car' and there is no reason that cannot still be the case. We have had some great games of I-Spy with our two. "I spy with my little eye something beginning with lorry" was an Ella classic!

A bag of 'bits' is always a winner. So age appropriate toys or books - think sticker books, water magic books, flash cards, magnetic boards or re-useable window stickers.

A game of 'Car-eoke' can be fun too. (see what I did there?!) Our kids know all the words to some of the all time greatest hits now, and hubby is fluent in Disney songs!

It is though, perfectly acceptable to use a bit of modern technology too. We have tablet holders on the head rests (bought off Amazon) and the kids watch movies with Bluetooth headphones.

And, if all else fails, try 'The Quiet Game.' Who can be quiet for the longest?

Snacks

For really young children, I am not a fan of letting them eat in the car, unless an adult is sitting alongside, due to the risk of choking (I've had over 20 years of first aid courses!) but for older kids, a snack pack is handy for each child. I always keep drinks with me in the front or we will be stopping at every services for a wee!

Safety

Make sure that you have window and door locks on so that if boredom strikes, little fingers can't wander.

It is also important to remind kids who can undo their seatbelts the dangers of doing so while the car is moving/engine still on, and that the seatbelt must remain over the shoulder, not under.

It is important to also be reminded of the advice that The Lullaby Trust gives regarding safe sleep for babies while in a car seat. You can read about it here

And finally, make sure that when you are packing the car you have things like tissues, wipes and the nappy bag to hand and that the kids have blankets to put over them. You don't want them dressed in too many layers so a blanket to hand is useful if they feel chilly, particularly if you are leaving first thing in the morning. I always make sure my two are dressed in comfy clothing too and that they have had a wee right before we leave.

These are my Top Tips, what would be yours?

Auntie K is a Parenting expert and Consultant with over 20 years experience working with children.   

Using her experience as a professional and her own personal experience of being a parent,  Aunty K offers a parent consultation service where she gives support, reassurance, help and advice on all areas of parenting. You can check out her website here. Today she has written a great article about how to survive long car journeys with kids.

Cover Photo By Wavebreakmedia on Canva

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