I am back from my marathon road-trip/holiday. Going from Essex to Suffolk; up to Yorkshire, then across to Lancashire and finally onwards to Liverpool. This was a marathon for my two little ones. Living on Jersey means that they are never in the car for longer than 15 minutes. Let me tell you that they found the four hour drive to Leeds quite a challenging one, as did my ears. This got me thinking about road-trips with kids and how to deal with them. This one experience of a road-trip with my two lovely monsters means that I now consider myself an expert on surviving hellish road-trips. Let me impart some of my newly found wisdom 😉 :
- Pre-children, a road-trip might mean an opportunity for a snooze (if you are aren’t driving!) However, post-children you have to remain on high alert at all times. Snoozing could lead to threenagers discovering a lever in the hire-car. A lever that they decide to pull as you are hurtling up the A1 towards Leeds. Therefore, tip 1 has to be no sleep for the adults!
- You need to load the car up to the gills with food. Think about what your children normally consume in a day and then quadruple it! However, think carefully about your snacks. We might normally like our kids to eat lovely salads, tomatoes, cucumbers etc, but when in moving car this type of food will not do. You need food that you can easily fire into your children’s open mouths/hands from the front of the seat. We are talking about your Percy Pigs, jelly worms, perhaps the odd breadstick (although prepare for crumbs). It is best not to think about the state of your car at the end of the road-trip. Trust me, by the end of your holiday the inside of your car will resemble a bin on wheels. Don’t worry, this is preferable to your children killing each other in the back seats. A dustbin for a car is a small price to pay for a harmonious trip.
- There is no such thing as the scenic route. The only route you take is the quickest route. Cross-Country is something that you were once forced to do in secondary school. It is not something you attempt to do when driving two feral children up the country. The children don’t want to see that church with the wonky spire in Chesterfield, nor do they want to see where Daddy and Mummy first lived as students. They don’t care. All they care about is “are we nearly there yet?”
- This brings me onto the “are we nearly there yet?” Avoid answering this question at all costs. There is no answer in the world that will satisfy them. Answer with, “no we have 3 hours 22 minutes and 10 seconds to go” and you will be rewarded with endless moaning and groaning. Answer with a wishy-washy “nearly” and they will see right through it and continue to torture you with it, “you said nearly, it has been over an hour”. The only way to deal with this situation is distraction. Fire some food missiles at them, cannon-ball Maltesers into their mouths, or perhaps distract them with the passing scenery, “oh look at that delightful lorry-driver picking his nose. Give him a wave children.”
- Children are experts at trying to get out of the car. They have an arsenal of cunning tricks. The “I feel sick” is a classic one. What do you do? Do you risk pulling over? 9 times out of 10 you will find yourself on the hard-shoulder with a child galloping along the dual carriage-way gleefully shouting, “I’m free, suckers”. However, what if it is that one other time? This will require nerves of steel and James Bond type sleuth skills. Scan their face for signs of visible sickness, do they look grey or green? Have they broken out into a sweat? Survey the back of the car for how much food they have eaten. What do the discarded wrappers tell you? Just how many packets of Pom-Bears have they inhaled? Finally, ask them to rate themselves on the sickness scale. 1 – I feel a little bit sick but if you have a sugary snack then I will happily gorge myself on it, to 10 – I am going to carpet the inside of this car with vomit and we will all look like we have escaped from some horror movie. If you suspect a 10 then take immediate action. Either find the nearest and safest place to stop or, if time does not permit this, then ask the healthy sibling to hold an empty plastic bag under sickly child. If the sibling is a wuss and refuses to do this (unacceptable), then ask sickly child to pretend to be a dog, open the window and get them gulping in all of that fresh air. Also, ask the driver to stop hurtling along the road like a bat out of hell. Suggest that they drive more like a Sunday driver until the sickness has passed.
- Never ever assume that they will entertain themselves. If you do this then their form of entertainment will be torturing you. Bring all of the sticker books, colouring books, reading books and the electronic devices. Makes sure those iPads are fully charged. Yes, screens are evil but in a car they are our saviours. We all worship the iPad. In case of emergency, crack open the I-spy game.
- Music for the car. Don’t let your children sway you in what music should be played. No one wants to listen to Mr Tumbles attempting to sing and One Direction on loop makes me want to pull my hair out. Instead use this car journey as a musical education. Try and introduce them to your music. Perhaps a little early to introduce them to Kanye West and the F-bombs. Stick to music that doesn’t involve every other word being an expletive. If children start to moan about your choice of music then turn it up loud. Now you can’t hear your rude off-spring. Win.
So there are my tips. Hardly the wisdom I promised you. However, they worked; we survived. I will be sharing our trip soon. Although, you may have to wait until next week. This is the last week of the holidays for Oldest and Youngest has started her settling in days at pre-school this week. Next week will see normal service resume though.
In the meantime do you have any tips for surviving hellish road-trips with children?