Tips for long car rides with preschoolers
It's school holidays and for some people that means a road trip! For others though the thought of taking a long car ride with kids is enough to put you off going away altogether. If you're up for braving the ride here are some tips to help get you through. This is targeted mostly for families with preschoolers, as this is what I know!
Before you leave - it's all in the planning!
* Make sure all the kids have clean nappies or have been to the toilet, the last thing you want is to be stopping ten minutes after you've started because someone needs to use the bathroom
* Ensure you have sunshades up and/or sunglasses for the kids handy, it's no fun travelling when you've got the sun shining in your eyes and the inevitable complaining that comes with that
* Prepare for car sickness. In our family it is highly likely that at least one of the kids is going to be sick, if we're really unlucky it causes a chain reaction so we always prep for this. Have a go to bag handy with a spare pair of clothes (or two), a container (we use old ice cream containers as being able to put a lid on it is amazing if you're not able to stop straight away), old towels/cloths/wipes to clean up and a wet bag to chuck in anything soiled.
* Have full water bottles and a few snacks to get you through. Even if you plan to stop for food along the way it is important to have some emergency snacks. You don't want to be caught 30 minutes away from where you plan to stop and the kids start complaining about being hungry
* If you're planning on using an i-pad or dvd player for the kids make sure it's charged up
* Have a rough idea of where you plan to stop for food and ensure there are playgrounds for the kids.
What's the best time to leave?
This might depend a bit on the ages of your kids, when you're travelling and how well they travel.
* If your kids are good sleepers and not good travellers perhaps leaving at night might be a good option. We did this once for a weekend away when we left after work for a 3 hour journey and it was great, the kids slept most of the way and went straight into bed as soon as we got there. This might not be such a good option if you have to make up beds etc when you get there
* If you expect the road to be busy I always tend to go super early. My kids are generally awake pretty early anyway and I hate being stuck in traffic
* If you can time the trip with your kids sleep then this can make the time pass quicker
* Make sure you allow plenty of time for the trip. Plan out your stops and allow plenty of time for the kids to get out and stretch their legs at a playground or just have a run around.
It's a daunting prospect keeping the kids entertained for a long car ride. Here are some ideas of games to play or things to do to keep them getting bored and continually asking 'are we there yet'?
* I-spy. Pre-schoolers might be too small for traditional i-spy but you can vary it for them by saying things like i-spy something green
* Spotting cars of different colours - let each child pick a colour and count how many cars they see of each colour, whoever gets the most wins
* Scavenger hunt - create a bingo type board or list before you leave of things that you're likely to see while travelling. Get the kids to look out for them and tick things off when they see them for example a cow, horse, mountains, petrol station etc
* Guess what animal I am - give clues until they guess what it is. You can vary how difficult you make it based on the age of your children
* How many can you name in 15/30 seconds. My four year old loves this game. We challenge her to name as many items as she can within a certain timeframe for example how many colours can you think of or how many people can you name from daycare etc. This is quite fun for adults too.
As well as these games you can also get the kids singing or recite them stories. I'm at a point where I can easily recite about two dozen stories off the top of my head as I've read them so many times over the last few years they are ingrained in my memory.
If you don't have the energy for the above or just need a little break then an audio book could be just what you need. You can get them from your local library. Alternatively you might need to bust out the i-pad or dvd player.
Don't let the thought of an awful car ride put you off going on holiday. Holidaying with your kids is a great way to make memories that will last a lifetime.
Good luck with you trip